Exhibitions Heaven

Extraordinary shoe design.

28 January t/m 2 September 2018 view details »
Included in ticket Cube
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Do we really believe that we wear shoes because they are comfortable? If so, we are most likely wrong, because our footwear says a lot more about us than we think. It is high time to take a closer look at the impact of shoe design. 

Shoes largely determine our image, allowing us to make a statement, stand out, or fit in with a subculture. They even provide confidence and empowerment and we often take for granted that this is sometimes all at the expense of comfort.

 After all, shoes complete your outfit. Take yourself to unprecedented heights and command success with shoes that lengthen your legs optically. Creativity and architectural forms are not shunned by designers who quite literally place the women on a pedestal. Is suffering from pain caused by high heels or too narrow designs part of the contemporary deal?

The Heaven or Hell? exhibition highlights the impact of these designs with more than 100 extraordinary shoe designs. A broad overview of the developments in the shoe industry has been created by bringing designers, artists, and innovative brands together.

The central issue with every shoe being: Heaven or Hell?

With more than 100 modellen, divided into 6 themes, the Heaven or Hell? exhibition looks at both the shoes and the designers:


Magnetic Shoe - Jólan van der Wiel / Iris van Herpen

More than 100 models

Heaven or Hell? hasover 100 models of shoes by stylists, designers, and brands are on display. 

  • Adidas
  • Alexander McQueen
  • Alexander Khorikian
  • Alexandra Llewellyn
  • Amber Ambrose Aurèle
  • Anna Zaboeva\Pleasemachine
  • Anne Klein
  • Ateliers Tersi
  • Beth Levine
  • Birkenstock
  • Camper
  • Carolin Holzhuber
  • Converse
  • Charlotte Olympia
  • Christian Louboutin
  • Christian Freschi
  • Chau Har Lee
  • Clarks
  • Crocs
  • Deniz Terli
  • Dr. Martens
  • Digitsole
  • Donna Karan
  • Ernesto Esposito
  • Estel Alcaraz Sancerni
  • Fantich & Young (artists)
  • Giancarlo Zanatta
  • Givenchy
  • Havaianas
  • Iris van Herpen
  • Irmaos Campana
  • Ipanema
  • Jasper Morrison
  • Jean Nouvel
  • Jeffrey Campbell
  • Jimmy Choo
  • Jólan van der Wiel
  • Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel
  • Kartell + N21
  • Kenzo
  • Kermit Tesoro
  • Ki Ecobe
  • Kobi Levi
  • Laura Papp
  • Lou Moria
  • Liz Ciokajlo
  • Lotte de Boer
  • Marita Huurinainen
  • Matali Crasset
  • Marloes ten Bhömer
  • Manolo Blahnik
  • Marc Newson
  • Marni
  • Melissa
  • Minna Parikka
  • Natacha Marro
  • nat-2™ x Roxxlyn
  • Nendo
  • Nicholas Kirkwood
  • Nike
  • Noritaka Tatehana
  • Olivier Taco
  • Prada
  • 3.1 Phillip Lim for UGG
  • Philippe Starck
  • Pierre Hardy
  • Raf Simons for Dior
  • René Mancini for Paco Rabanne
  • René Caovilla
  • René van den Berg
  • Repetto
  • Roderick Pieters\Proef Designs
  • Ross Lovegrove
  • Reebok
  • Roger Vivier
  • Ruco Line
  • Salvatore Ferragamo
  • Sara Gulyas and Rob Lowe (AKA Supermundane graphic design)
  • Silvia Fadó
  • Swedish Hasbeens
  • Tecnica
  • Timberland
  • Tod'sUnited Nude
  • Vans
  • Vivobarefoot
  • Vibram
  • Vivienne Westwood
  • Yves Saint Laurent
  • Winde Rienstra
  • Xiaoxi Shi
  • Zaha Hadid
  • Zuza Gronowicz
  • Barbara Motylinska.

Technology First

In 1954 Roger Vivier improved the spike heel by reinforcing it with metal. This strengthened the heel enough to be raised from 6 cm to 8 cm. The stiletto was born, which was big news and was widely covered in the media.

Today, models are sent onto the catwalk wearing 23-cm high heels, but heel height is not the only innovation taking place in the industry. Collaborations with engineers are being established for reasons other than improving comfort.

3D-printed and knitted models are on display at the exhibition, as are shoes created with rotational moulding or even through technological slate processing. Decide for yourself whether all this technological ingenuity is intended for comfort, ‘heavenliness’, or whether it has a primarily experimental nature.  

Heaven or Hell?

True Icons

The history of the shoe would be very different if not for several legendary examples. Famous designs exhibited are the patented Invisible by Ferragamo, the two-tones by Coco Chanel, and the famous Yves Saint Laurent shoes.

There are also some relatively new icons, such as shoes worn by Carrie in Sex and the City, the turbulent high heels Lady Gaga performs on, and the Vivienne Westwood’s Naomi Campbell was wearing when she famously fell on the catwalk. What is the attraction of these shoes?

Besides these models that became instantly famous thanks to celebrities, designers are also put in the spotlight. We look at how designers have made their mark on the history of shoe design over the past 70 years. What significance have shoes had over the years and what did they say about the status of the person wearing them?

Materials Matter

You might expect designers to choose comfort as one of their main priorities when designing a shoe. However, the opposite is sometimes true! The models in this exhibition prove that not comfort, but material can be the starting point of a design.

Are we forced into certain shoes made of extraordinary materials by the designers, or are we constantly looking for something new? Decide for yourself while looking at these models. From golden goatskin to suede leather, and from cork to plexiglass and porcelain; it is hard to imagine, but they exist. Which material would you like to try on for a heavenly or hellish experience? 

Design for Impact

We are seeing a trend: designers are working hard on the ecological footprint of their designs.

In addition to using upcycled materials, they are also experimenting with optimising a production process to manufacture their design without toxic substances or with as little residual material as possible.


Cult Status

Each subculture has its own shoes. How does this come about? Over the years, we have even seen certain shoes take on a different meaning. Intended as worker shoes, Dr. Martens, for example, have been an icon for various subcultures throughout the years.

Models designed for sport also found their way to the general public. Street fashion has spurred designers to think about reinterpretations of the hippie style, for example. Reciprocal influence of social trends and shoe design creates an ever-changing image in keeping with the spirits of the times.

State of the Art

Along with shoe and fashion designers, many artists and architects also like to try their hand at the concept of shoes. Unimpeded by expectations or conventions, they work with dizzying heel heights and other peculiar features that have nothing to do with comfort.

The aspect of wearability seems to be fading into the background. Inspired by art, culture, and architecture, models that seem unbearable are created. What is your take on these designs, Heaven or Hell?

Tickets to 'Heaven or Hell?' 

The exhibit at Cube is open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. from Tuesday through Sunday, until Sunday 3 September 2018. Cube offers several exhibitions at a time, such as Out of the Lab (opens on 3 February), GIO 2017 (until 18 February 2018), the Student Labs & Showroom Limburg (opens on 3 March). A day ticket to the museum costs €12. Entrance is free with a Museumkaart (Dutch museum card). Tip: Buy your ticket online for an extra discount! 

Opening hours & Tickets


Cube is directly adjacent to Kerkrade Centre Station, about half an hour from Maastricht, Aachen, and Roermond. Cube is located on Museumplein (museum square) in Kerkrade, where you can also visit the Columbus Earth Center or Continium Discovery Center.


Made possible with help from:

Provincie Limburg

In collaboration with:

  • Curator: Elisabetta Pisu 
  • Registrar: Vilja Bemelen
  • Photography: Kenneth Tan, Ruud Balk 
  • Exhibition design: Marcel Sloots (Volle Kracht)
  • Graphic design: Miranda Reijnders
  • Text: Giulia Zappa & Valerie Boersma, Carola van 't Hof & Noud de Greef
  • Translations: Lydia Beem & Anne Cunningham
  • Concept & Development: Cube design museum



Heaven or Hell

  • 28 January t/m 2 September 2018

    Open on Mondays during school holidays (Region South)