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Shoe Design Retreat

Join Chris Francis to learn how to make shoes by handcrafting, using simple tools and traditional techniques. Designed as an introduction to shoemaking, participants learn the structural mechanics of making a heeled shoe from pattern to finish. Instruction includes measuring a last; creating a mathematically correct pattern; using industrial sewing machines to assemble uppers from raw leather; hand dyeing or painting of shoes; and attaching heels and soles. Sewing experience is required.

Dates and Fees

The Shoe Design Retreat with Chris Francis will take place on June 11 through June 22, 2018, from 9:00am to 5:00pm at Otis College of Art and Design. Tuition for the program is $1,675. The deadline for applications is May 23, 2018.

On-campus housing and board may be available for an additional fee, please indicate on the application form if you are interested in this option.

Important fee and registration information:

  • To Register: Use the Apply Now button below and submit your information and the $20 registration fee by May 23, 2018.
  • Enrollment notifications will be sent by May 25 and a $350 deposit is required by May 30, 2018 to secure your place in the retreat. This deposit will go towards the total $1,675 for the retreat. The full balance is due Friday, June 8, 2018.
  • A $250 materials fee will be due upon notification of enrollment. Otis College Extension will contact you by email with payment instructions. 
  • To give everyone the best experience possible, the program is limited to 12 participants.
  • Additional information will be sent to all participants after registration.


Mentor Artists 

Jo Lauria, Program Director

LauriaJo Lauria is a curator, writer, educator, and museum consultant specializing in design and decorative arts. Formerly she held the position of assistant curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Lauria is the organizer of several national touring exhibitions as well as numerous museum-based surveys of craft, design, and decorative arts. Most recently, she organized two design exhibitions for 2015 and 2016, one showcasing the exquisite ceramics of Ralph Bacerra for Otis College of Art and Design (LA), and the other featuring the visionary architecture of William F. Cody for the Architecture and Design Museum (LA). Ongoing, she has consulted with museums and private clients on acquisitions for their permanent collections and/or portfolios. Additionally, for the last five years Lauria has served as Mentor Faculty at Otis College of Art and Design.

Chris Francis, Lead Faculty

Chris FrancisChris Francis is a Los Angeles based shoe designer and maker whose designs bridge both the fashion and art world. Francis operates almost entirely through handcrafting: he creates contemporary objects by use of twentieth-century techniques and simple hand tools. Cultural inspiration, humor, color, and a versatile range of materials are all characteristic of Francis’ work as well as strong silhouette, sharp lines, and simplicity. He often describes his creations as wearable art and fashionable architecture. Francis’ unique approach to shoemaking merges tradition with the open-minded exploration of materials and modern ideas, expanding the concept of the shoe into territory unrestricted by the market. Shoes designed by Francis are worn regularly by celebrities and musicians, and have been featured in publications such as Vogue Magazine, Metropolis, and Ornament Magazine. He has exhibited at Palm Springs Art Museum, Architecture and Design Museum (Los Angeles), and has held solo exhibitions at the Craft and Folk Art Museum and Museum of Art and History (Lancaster).


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