The only thing from Teva’s history that’s more recognizable than our sandal silhouette are our iconic webbing patterns. They may seem like part of our heritage now, but the process of creating themwas revolutionary at the time. And at our side was Nadine Marchal, the French-born artisan who has a worldwide reputation for being the first artisan to add designs to highly technical mountaineering equipment like climbing ropes and harnesses.
It’s been more than 20 years since we sat down with Marchal for the very first time, but our goal remains the same: to blend a well-crafted sandal with artistic design in fresh new ways. Here, we catch up with Marchal to celebrate the launch of a new platform dedicated to honoring the creative minds behind our products: The Artist Series.
What makes creating a pattern on webbing so challenging?
When you see webbing, it’s very tiny. The straps are not very wide. To create on a very small piece, you have to train your brain. It’s not like when you design on paper—you have to design dot per dot, simplify things while still making it beautiful. It’s like translating one language to another.
Why do you like working in the textile medium?
I love the materials. I love to touch and feel things. Weaving is one of the oldest things in the world; it’s universal and a part of history. Everyone had yarn and started to do something with it. Today, I’m feeling the same, like my life has been a series of encounters woven together. With weaving there is no end—it can be new everyday, a new yearn, a new thickness. With each project, it’s like a new horizon I have to reach.
The Lizard pattern was the first jacquard webbing you ever created for us, and we’re reintroducing the iconic style this March. There’s so much history there—what do you remember about that process?
In the early ‘90s, Teva’s vice president, Peter Link, came to France to meet me. We worked together for five days with a technician. He wanted to do something new—he explained the Colorado River, the outdoors. I talked about Africa. Our friendship started right away, and from that friendship, the Lizard pattern webbing was born.
What do you like most about having your artwork worn by people around the world?
It’s nice because it’s a secret. When people see it, they think of it as a shoe, not as though a person designed it. I like knowing that people are walking, going somewhere, in my designs. Sometimes the designs stay with them for years. Imagine what they’ve done with the shoes. Imagine the moments they’ve had. They could have gone to another country or gardened in them at home. It’s what I like about Teva—when people buy it, they keep it. It’s not something they throw away. You can’t go anywhere without yours shoes.
So how are your new designs for the Teva Artist Series different?
When I started, we didn’t have the same material choices as we do now. It was nylon. The big evolution is about materials. The looms have been improved; there is better definition of the webbing now than before. The new Azura pattern is inspired by Lisbon, Portugal. The history there is so apparent, especially in the old tiles used on the buildings. Each tile has its own geometric design, and I brought that distinct look to the Teva Original.
Click to shop the new Artist Series Collection designs now (click on an image to shop!):