The Ladder Shoe Project

  • Martin James John Willmott School


In September 1981 Robert Child joined the VIth form at John Willmott School. As his tutor it became obvious to me that he had a great interest in the engineering workshop and especially the machines. I suggested that he become our workshop technician; helping with routine maintenance and stock control for three lessons per week. Robert did this job until Christmas, when a full time technician took over. This left Robert at a loose end.

I suggested that he do some sort of design project. Various ideas were considered, but many were too complex and most lacked originality. It was after a week of frustration, unable to find anything suitable, that I mentioned one of my pet hates; the base of a standard ladder never seems to fit the ground where it needs to be positioned. Would it be possible to design a fitment to fill the gap? Robert was sceptical but agreed to consider it, and returned a couple of days later with some vague sketches on a scrap of paper. Robert was of the opinion that to be a successful designer you must be a good artist. It was 0bvious that a more anaytical and, hence, logical approach was required. I went through the design process in depth and Robert reluctantly agreed to follow it. He returned with a well written situation and a brief - stating in precise detail the design requirement. After a week of research gaining information about sections of ladder legs (and materials) and possible existing solutions, ideas were forthcoming. Unfortunately many of these initial ideas were either verbal or in the form of blackboard sketches or on scrap paper - but from these the foundation for the later development was produced.

How to Cite
JAMES, Martin. The Ladder Shoe Project. Studies in Design Education Craft & Technology, [S.l.], v. 15, n. 2, sep. 2009. ISSN 0305 766. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 21 mar. 2023.