Didi Rojas is part of Highsnobiety Shop’s Athletics Footwear campaign. The Athletics One.2 will be available exclusively via Highsnobiety Shop on January 28.
Didi Rojas has taken the Instagram world by storm with her lifelike ceramic versions of hyped and classic sneakers. Her account, @0h_heck, has quickly amassed a cult following thanks both to the quality of her work and her own quirky and genuine nature.
What started as an experiment — Rojas began working with ceramics during her freshman year of college at the Pratt Institute in New York — has blossomed into a full-blown hustle, with brands such as adidas and Ganni tapping Rojas to recreate their shoes, either via ceramics or painting, her other creative outlet.
Rojas has been working with ceramics for several years now, but the idea to make ceramic sneakers wasn’t immediate. “I would always wear my Air Force Ones to the studio, where I worked during college,” Rojas shares. “I noticed that my shoes were looking more and more like they were made out of the material because they just got so dirty. So that's when the first idea came where I was like, ‘Oh, I want to maybe try and recreate these in the material or the medium.’”
As for how exactly she chooses which shoes to make, well, it started with her own Nike Air Force 1s and transitioned to other classics Rojas noticed people wearing around New York City. “I noticed a lot of Chuck Taylors and Stan Smiths at the time. I just kept seeing those everywhere, so those were the shoes that I started with,” she explains.
Nowadays, her inspiration is just as impulsive, but it’s not limited to what she sees on the NYC subway. “The other day I was watching The Last Dance and I saw the Air Jordan 1s and I was like, ‘I haven't made these yet.’ So this week, that's what I made at my studio,” she smiles. “The inspiration comes from which one sparks my interest, whether I'm scrolling through Instagram or looking online.”
After making her first few sneakers out of ceramic, Rojas saw it as a challenge. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute. I feel like I can try making any kind of shoe.’ I kept on going on designer sites and seeing what sneakers were popular at the time. I was almost pretending to have this object that I couldn't afford,” Rojas says, tapping into a feeling most sneakerheads will have felt before.
When faced with the question of whether she — an artist who predominantly paints and makes shoes out of ceramics — is a sneakerhead, Rojas is unsure. “I don't know. I wouldn't be able to tell you a lot about that topic, but I do love shoes in general,” she reveals. “I just appreciate the product and design itself. What the shapes look like is something that I've begun to appreciate a lot through the process of sculpting them.”
That unadulterated appreciation and passion for the design of sneakers are reflected in Rojas’ work. Her ceramic sculptures are, in her words, art. They’re not meant to be worn; Rojas did not intend for them to be used for anything other than art. Parallels can be drawn to sneaker collecting, where some people buy shoes for displaying or reselling purposes only. Many of you probably have shoes you’ve never actually worn, making Rojas’ ceramic sneakers not all that different to the ones we keep on shelves or shoeboxes at home.
“I like to play with the idea of an object, whose function is known to the people who buy it. And then it becomes much more than that,” Rojas muses. “That's also something that I love about ceramics itself, the fact that it can be functional but it also doesn't need to be.”
Though Rojas sees her sculptures as art, first and foremost, she recognizes the beauty of intended function being in the eye of the beholder. Many of her works are sold via a gallery or shows, some are created for clients. “If you buy one of my pieces and you want to use it as a vase or a planter, that's chill,” says Rojas, epitomizing her spontaneous and pure approach to her craft.
Didi Rojas is making ceramic sneakers because she likes to. We’re just lucky that she’s decided to share her art with us.
The Athletics One.2 can be purchased on Highsnobiety Shop starting January 28.