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The Trainer

Episode 1 of 3

Designer and materials engineer Zoe Laughlin dismantles the trainer to understand its form, function and material before building her own bespoke version of an everyday classic.

Zoe Laughlin, designer, maker and materials engineer, is fascinated by the science and technology hidden within the everyday objects we take for granted. In this series, she dismantles and dissects three classic items to understand the wonders of form, function and material that go into making them, before building her own truly bespoke versions, step by step.

In this episode, Zoe takes on the trainer - a much-loved modern classic that's a marvel of engineering and design. Setting out in search of inspiration, she meets some of the UK's leading trainer designers and manufacturers, as well as the young inventors working on mind-blowing sustainable creations such as material made by bacteria and self-deodorising fabrics.

Zoe also goes behind the scenes at Britain's largest footwear factory, where high-speed injection-moulding processes turn out a shoe every nine seconds. And she meets one of the country's pre-eminent trainer historians, Thomas Turner, to find out how our favourite everyday footwear would be nothing without car tyres. All before building her own bespoke trainers. In Zoe's own words, ‘they are mad, but they're mine - and that makes them special!’

59 minutes

Last on

Thu 9 Dec 2021 00:30

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Role Contributor
Presenter Zoe Laughlin
Production Manager James Wallace
Editor Alex McAllister
Editor Gill Abraham
Editor Mark Knowles
Executive Producer Sarah Trigg
Executive Producer Maia Liddell
Producer Jake Clifford
Producer Ekta Walia
Director Paul Vanezis
Production Company Wonder


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Watch more Open University experiments and explore engineering further

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