Interview by Marlo Saalmink
Every now and then, one comes across someone, who seems completely immersed in their work, embracing it irrevocably. Our encounter with MR. ROALD NORE of THE LAST CONSPIRACY, unfolded itself as a soothing and thought provoking dialogue. As the fashion machines are rewound for yet another season, it felt empowering to stand still and observe artisanal craftsmanship. We were led on a dainty return to the source of creation, that of technical construction and raw materials. Footwear from the creators perspective.
Roald, lets begin by speaking of the true backbone of your company, The Last Conspiracy has a special connection with craftsmanship and corporate responsibility, could you tell me a little about how you create?
When you aim to make shoes of high quality and are also concerned about the conditions under which they are made, it is important to have a very close relationship with your local craftsman. For THE LAST CONSPIRACY, we work with only a few shoe-factories and ateliers, who we have known and worked with for many years. Over time, we have grown to know them very well and they know us as well, which created a special bond. When we initially started working on new ideas, the dialogue between us – ”the strange, stubborn designers from up north” – and the craftsmen was essential. The processes with these incredibly skilled artisans, of whom many have inherited their skills for generations, always turn out te be very creative and reflective…
Hooking into that: we recently visited your special atelier in Porto. Do you get inspired by the connection of Portuguese craftsmanship and the clean Nordic surroundings of your residency? And how do you connect these very different worlds?
Well, as a creator, you can be inspired by a lot of things. Anything you like really. In the end our taste is very clean and perhaps rather functional, thus Nordic. We love materials and textures and we always want the quality to be obvious, so ”overstyling” would in our opinion only kill the genuine artisanal sense. This is, of course, only possible to accomplish because of the aforementioned close connection to the Portuguese team of craftsmen – they are proud to make shoes of the highest quality, so we aim for the same. That is for sure why we understand eachother so well.
Each chapter in the brand, is introduced in a special manner. The best example is the capsule collection aptly named ‘‘ASGAARD’’. What constitutes this collection and what is it about?
The ASGAARD collection is all about taking every part of making a shoe to another level. It is part of our personal reflection on how to craft footwear intelligently. The name ASGAARD comes from the nordic mythology and is the name of the place where the Gods lived – the place of the superiors. The lasts we use for ASGAARD all have a history and the materials are all handpicked for each pair – we use cullata leather, which are small pieces, so you have to spend a lot of time to choose pieces that make a pair perfect. The soles have an extra layer of strong leather and the metal shank is visible. All processes, that extend the time it takes to produce a pair of shoes, but these steps also make each pair unique. I guess you could call it uncompromised shoemaking.
In your interviews, you often mention leather memories, construction and wielding as key elements of footwear design. Could you describe the artisanal process of creating shoes?
We have a very strong passion for the lasts and the materials, so this is where the process starts. When we go to the factories to start up a new collection, we bring ideas for new lasts and sometimes you have to make many changes, small changes, before you have the perfect shape. Perhaps, another new interesting shape appears in the process and that´s why the dialogues in the factory also can be very creative. When the shapes are right, we start experimenting with the leathers – how do they react to washing, heat and finishing and then we start to add the styling for each last.
Dialogues are key in understanding the world. Could you depict a special dialogue that made you decide to follow this special path of designing?
As a designer, it is important to also be out there and listen to reactions to your work.. Not that everybody should influence in which direction you go, but sometimes a dialogue can support some of the thoughts you are already having. Before we launched the ASGAARD collection, we visited New York and had a very nice talk with a customer, who was searching for a range of unique handmade footwear to fit his selection of darker artisanal high-end brands. I was wearing the first prototype from the ASGAARD project and he noticed my shoes at once – this was what he was searching for. Of course this made me want to complete and launch this special line even more, it really served as a trigger.
As the collections have a rather understated appearance, clean, but with textural interplay and high end materials: What according to you, makes a good shoe?
For me, a good shoe is a ”power-item’. It can be like the heavy feeling of an expensive watch or the touch of a well-tailored jacket. Our shoes should bring comfort – comfort for your feet when you wear them – and comfort for your mind, because they complete your personal style and make you feel confident.
Lastly, how do you envisage THE LAST CONSPIRACY to develop?
Albeit, we are not an old company, we feel that we already have traditions in the way we work. We aim to keep these traditions and remain true to this. In short, we wish to embrace the sartorial consciousness of artisanal shoelovers.