‘Layers’ by diogo pimenta: self-locking + renewable design


Industrial designer Diogo Pimenta recently launched modular sneakers he envisioned for the circular economy (CE) – a production and consumption model based on two complementary loops similar to natural, biological cycles. Titled ‘LAYERS’, the proposed footwear highlights a three-fold innovation: increasing product life, encouraging customization, and switching from traditionally disposable to renewable footwear. 

diogo pimenta designs three-part, modular sneakers for the circular economy

a 2021 nominee for the Green Concept Award



Sneakers are typically stitched, glued, and assembled in ways that make them impossible to recycle, ultimately ending up in landfills. Responding to such an unsustainable model, Diogo Pimenta (see more) created ‘LAYERS’ as an innovative, self-locking system consisting of only three components: the sole, the outer sole, and the cut. Together, they form a shoe that is easy to assemble and disassemble. ‘This design minimizes the need for complicated elements in the footwear, allowing easy […] maintenance, upgrade, and recycling,’ notes the designer. 

diogo pimenta designs three-part, modular sneakers for the circular economy

the modular sneakers feature only three components 



reducing carbon footprint, enabling full personalization 


Footwear production is typically centralized in Asia, making the logistic route of the product a significant contributor to a high carbon footprint. ‘LAYERS’, however, is based on the ecological value of ‘localism’; the modular sneakers are produced in Portugal, the same country where Pimenta resides. As a result, the footwear only makes a 240 km route — from idealization to manufacturing — therefore contributing to a low carbon footprint.


Besides being sustainable in value, the modular design also allows users to customize each sneaker in terms of colors, materials, shapes, and finishes — offering a highly personalized and stylized end product.

footwear for the circular economy 2
LAYERS are produced in Portugal, supporting local economy with a low carbon footprint 



‘The European Green Deal promotes a roadmap to a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050. An essential part of this plan is the transition to a circular economy. This new economic model offers innovation opportunities in every phase of the value chain, including Design. Through its transdisciplinary nature, Design might even be the primary driver of change. Therefore, it is crucial to readjust the design process and refocus on the role of Design within the process of value creation in the footwear industry,’ concludes Diogo Pimenta. 


His project was selected as a 2021 nominee for the Green Concept Award

footwear for the circular economy 1
adopting environmentally friendly production and recycled material

footwear for the circular economy 3
users can customize the product in terms of colors, materials, shapes, and finishes




project info:


name: LAYERS
designer: Diogo Pimenta



designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom