Stahl Scholarship at SLEM (today known as The Footwearists)

Sasha Igdari is originally from Northern California, US and is here in the Netherlands at SLEM (today known as The Footwearists) earning her Masters in Footwear Innovation. Stahl has a partnership with SLEM (today known as The Footwearists) and part of this is a scholarship: Stahl provided Sasha with a scholarship for this Master. Sasha earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Genetic Engineering and has over 10 years’ experience in the biotech industry. At Roche Molecular she served as lead principal scientist researching and developing DNA based diagnostic assays. At Berlex Laboratories she served as an animal pharmacology scientist in the oncology department working closely with animals. Currently she is working with Gene and Cell Technologies researching tissue-engineering methods for growing animal skin in vitro. At SLEM (today known as The Footwearists) she is exploring various ways in which biotech can be applied in design and how these innovations will impact our world. Her dual passions in biotech and design make her uniquely positioned to explore this emerging field of innovative biomaterials.
1. Can you explain how you won the Stahl Scholarship at SLEM (today known as The Footwearists)?
I won by sharing my thoughts on a question posed regarding the future of shoe production and the leather industry. My answer to that question must have resonated. Either it was in alignment with how Stahl sees the industry evolving or it provided a fresh perspective they hadn’t considered. I am very grateful to Stahl for having the foresight to award the scholarship to someone like me who is developing technology that has the potential to change the way the leather industry operates.
2. What are your thoughts on ‘bright’ in relation with SLEM (today known as The Footwearists) and Stahl?
I believe it’s very important to keep an open mind/eye on new technology that has the potential to disrupt an entire industry. Stahl partnering with SLEM (today known as The Footwearists) shows that they have an open mind and are willing to invest in the future. Stahl’s decades long expertise in the leather industry and SLEM (today known as The Footwearists) foresight in new technology make this partnership unbeatable. I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to work with these two very innovative and creative companies. According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
3. Which interesting developments in shoe fabrics do you ascertain?
I believe we are in a biotech revolution. Advancements in this field will literally change the way we do everything. As it relates to shoe fabrics I believe advancements in tissue engineering will allow us to grow animal skin in the laboratory. This is not science fiction, it is already happening. I’m excited to develop this technology further and help shape its potential. I also believe biomimetic principles will change the way we think about what we create. Emulating nature’s billions of years of R&D will give rise to new intelligent and fully circular materials.
4. Which person do you admire for his/her brightness (and why)?
Right this moment it would be Nicoline van Enter, the Creative Director of SLEM (today known as The Footwearists). She has a very unique perspective of the world and of our shared future. She’s intelligent, fearless, and fun all at the same time. Creating a multifaceted concept like SLEM (today known as The Footwearists) is no easy task yet she has fully dedicated herself to it. It’s truly admirable.
5. Ten years from now I….
…will be the creative director of the most innovative R&D lab churning out high tech biomaterials based on biomimetic philosophy and creating awe-inspiring products that highlight the beauty, functionality, and benefits of such materials. I hope to accomplish this with a company like Stahl who has a history of leading innovation in the leather industry. As the rate of innovation increases what sounds like the far-flung future will become tomorrow’s reality faster than most people realize.

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