Killer High Heels That Plant Seeds

January 8, 2015 by


Imagine gardening in high heels. Sexy and dangerous, totally impractical, right?

While at the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition, Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe, I spotted among the studded and bejeweled platforms, stilettos, wedges–and creations that could only be described as works of art–a shoe whose high heel plants seeds. Yes, an haute-couture gardening shoe.


Propagating Seeds and Ideas
Nanohana Heels
artfully turn a fashion statement into a provocative eco-political one. The shoe’s stylish round seed reservoir empties soil-remediating rapeseeds (Nanohana) into the its mechanical high heel which, with each and every step, plants a seed into the soil.


A Step In the Right Direction 
Inspired by the post-Fukushima soil remediation efforts of the Nanohana (Rape Blossom) Project Network, artist/designer Sputniko! and shoe designer Masaya Kushino collaborated to launch the Healing Fukushima (Nanohana Heels) Project as a catalyst for rebuilding Fukushima while rethinking the future of nuclear energy.

Kushino’s shoe designs all have a very Dada sensibility. The Nanohana Heels bring to mind the work of many early twentieth century avant-garde artists, in particular Francis Picabia, who incorporated mechanization into many of his works.

francis-pacabia-mechanizationFille née sans mère (Girl Born Without a Mother), 1916, National Galleries, Scotland

The Science Behind the Design
If you’re interested in the science that influenced the design of this shoe, then read on: After Chernobyl, Belarusian scientists conducted experiments which revealed that rapeseed blossoms absorbed radioactive substances from soil. In 2001, led by these findings, the Ukraine and Belarus governments planted rapeseeds in over 123,000 acres of former agricultural land destroyed by the Chernobyl accident.

Decontamination and Bioenergy
Long before their country’s own nuclear disaster, Japan had been working in the Ukraine with Chernobyl victims. Formed in 1990, The Association To Help Chernobyl, Chubu-District, Japan has been successful in linking bioremediation with bioenergy production. The Nanohana (Rape Blossom) Project Network aims to accomplish the same thing in Fukushima.


So what’s involved? According to Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, the anti-nuclear public interest organization behind the project, this particular bioremediation process involves extracting the rapeseed oil and using it for biodiesel fuel. The dregs, which contain radioactive material and other biomass, get fermented to make methane for biogas (gases derived from organic matter.) The biogas waste liquid is treated with zeolite, then disposed of as low-level radioactive waste. Cleaner land, cleaner fuel.

Bioremediation may be a slow process, but by putting one foot in front of the other, people like Sputniko! and Kushino are planting the seeds of awareness, which appear to be growing nicely in Fukashima.

Photography by Takuya Shima.


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