About Joey and 

Joey is an independent footwear designer and founder of Khamis Studio based in Indianapolis. He has designed for iconic brands and artists such as Kanye West, Columbia SW, and Reebok. After graduating from Purdue University he got his start in the footwear industry designing shoes for Columbia Sportswear and Reebok, where he designed the Cardi B Classic Leather. As a designer, he focuses on constantly exploring new mediums of creation to come up with innovative designs, processes, and solutions to the problems he's solving.

The sample

The first sample received accurately reflected the design intent, and matched what would normally be expected after a further two rounds of revisions. By cutting out 2D blueprints and collaborating directly in 3D with the factory, only minor tweaks were left to make before giving the approval for production.

"we're designing 3D products, so it makes sense to be exploring ideas in a 3D space

Joey Khamis

Khamis Studio

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Product design innovation in action: The Khamis Studio x Gravity Sketch shoe took on a 3D-first approach to challenge the traditional processes used to bring shoes to life

3D isn’t just the product of a single tool or role, it’s a means to communicate ideas, in a language we all understand. And to build the best possible product, you need to communicate ideas across the entire workflow, not just at the end.

Embracing the latest tools and moving towards a 3D-first workflow can remedy obstacles ingrained in conventional, more traditional, approaches. By leveraging Gravity Sketch from the early stages of design and ideation, through to production, you can minimize rounds of sampling, facilitate a streamlined and efficient development process, with better communication of the design intent.

The Khamis Studio x Gravity Sketch Instinct shoe was born from the desire to deliver a product that remained true to the design intent from the idea to production; this is a feat that is incredibly challenging but something industry strives to do throughout the product process. At Gravity Sketch, we're fortunate to see the incredible work from our most progressive customers, but are unable to share a lot of this with the world, yet! Partnering with Joey Khamis of Khamis Studio to document an end-to-end footwear design and development process gives the community the opportunity to see a tangible example of a future-forward footwear design workflow, and its benefits. Throughout the process Joey has leveraged several of the same tools and technologies we’ve been seeing the industry move towards.

Research and Inspiration

The inspiration for the Khamis / GS shoe was taken from nature, a common source of ideas and references for work coming from Khamis Studio.

For Joey’s design he looked at the dart frog: the textures present in their feet inspired the texturing of the outsole and tooling.

Another source of inspiration is from cacti – that when dehydrated shrivel up to create a protective barrier. This protective barrier looks soft to the eye but is shielding the plant. Joey wanted this texture and protective properties reflected in his design.

Joey brought all of his inspiration images into a virtual studio and shared it with the Gravity Sketch founders in an immersive VR presentation, which helped sell the initial design direction and build conviction in the approach.

Sketching and Ideation

The sketching and ideation phase in the footwear design workflow began in Procreate with some quick napkin sketches that could be brought into Gravity Sketch as references. These along with inspiration images, gave Joey the basis to start exploring ideas, and constructing foundational wireframes around a last, also imported into Gravity Sketch. 3D wireframing gave Joey the opportunity to explore and share more tangible options that reflected his intent much earlier in the process

The focus then shifted towards defining the main lines of the shoe and establishing the silhouette, with 3D splines that could be used later for geometry concentration. There was particular attention paid to the placement of the last to ensure the work would meet the manufacturing constraints. This approach allowed for the swift resolution of design challenges and a deep understanding of proportions, which accelerated the workflow compared to traditional methods.

By addressing key elements early in the process, the team gained a rapid understanding of the design's feasibility and aesthetics, streamlining the transition to 3D surfacing. 

Review and Feedback

Members of the Gravity Sketch team and Joey were located in different geographies, but could be brought into the virtual studio environment using VR or the Gravity Sketch desktop app to experience Joey's ideas, concepts, and designs together. This enabled all stakeholders to get on board with real and meaningful collaboration taking place. Through using this form of communication the team understood the proposal holistically and were able to focus on securing the direction of the final design. 

The earliest review session for the design direction showcased inspiration and four main 3D concepts created by Joey. Numerous models and designs were presented, followed by an active discussion surrounding workflow, aesthetics, and materials, as well as discussing the next steps for the project. 

Iteration and refinement

In the iteration and refinement phase of the workflow, the exploration of shape started with surfacing. Continuing to depart from traditional sketches, Joey opted for a 3D modeling approach to fully realize designs, enabling more informed and precise decision-making during initial reviews.

As the process unfolded, the aesthetic seamlessly aligned with a singular design direction, integrating functionality from a diverse array of concepts.

Presentation and hand-off

The presentation and handoff stages in the Instinct design workflow used powerful rendering tools like Blender, and KeyShot to produce lifelike representations of the product so the team to see what the shoe would look like with production materials. These renders, based on data exported from Gravity Sketch, not only provided visualizations, but also served as a foundation for refining texture and colorway concepts. The goal was to achieve a level of realism that allowed for the most accurate decision-making possible for the aesthetics of the shoe.

Joey exceeded expectations by having four concepts ready to review, built on from the initial early Procreate sketches and 3D wireframes. The detail captured in these concept designs showed the expressive intent of the envisioned product far earlier in the process than was expected. Quick volumetric forms conveyed elements such as laces and padding, contributing to the communication and understanding of how Joey was approaching the design and its construction.

Each participant was able to independently move around the work to explore areas and details of designs that most related to their discipline. These reviewers were able to use tools within Gravity Sketch to highlight areas of the shoe to better illustrate points of conversation, as well as explore the concepts in great detail; at scale and even zoomed in for a better understanding of the details.

This review session ensured alignment for everyone involved and gave them an opportunity to ask questions and better understand Joey’s approach in a dynamic and engaging set up.

A virtual tech pack, constructed and viewable within Gravity Sketch, played a pivotal role in the transition to the development phase. The model underwent an iterative process for creating its 3D tech pack: The unusual process of sharing 3D files rather than just traditional 2D blueprints, resulted in more insightful feedback. There was a positive reception to the succinct 2D tech pack, comprising only three pages for tooling and upper sections, with UV unwrapping for the upper derived directly from the 3D model.

The refinement process further unfolded in virtual reality (VR), as feedback and edits flowed between Joey and the factory. The method of reviewing designs in VR allowed for detailed, mm-level adjustments to be made collaboratively as the team could zoom in to address problems that might elude capture through blueprints or the 3D files alone. This comprehensive approach ensured that the final details closely aligned with Joey’s design intent.

The resulting footwear design is characterized by its slip-on nature, designed for intuitive and effortless wear: Strategic zones of padding were incorporated to enhance visual comfort and provide protection for both the top of the foot and around the ankle.

A notable feature of the shoe's design emerged with a 2-in-1 moulded heel counter, serving as a touchpoint interaction that Joey created to reflect Gravity Sketch's unique user experience. The heel tab, designed to offer both support and external reinforcement, forms a distinctive structure that extends into dual heel tabs, merging seamlessly with the upper. This design not only enhances functionality but also introduces an innovative way to open the shoe from the heel, showcasing the iterative refinement and thoughtful consideration that defined this phase of the design process.

Communication with the factory

It was transformational to see such a deep level of collaboration with the factory partner at a relatively early stage of the process. The factory received both Rhino and Gravity Sketch files, to explore the design’s geometry. The factory didn’t have a lot of background knowledge on how the Sub-D data generated by Gravity Sketch related to Rhino, so the team made a short video showing how it can be used to edit and manipulate the model quickly to send ideas and revisions back to Joey.

Supercharged collaboration

Communicating in a virtual studio, across geos, and reduced friction points, unlocking a transformative remote workflow with the factory partner

Enhanced communication

Clear communication in 3D saved a full sample round, reducing travel costs and environmental impact. Saving 3 months in development time


Get Started with Gravity Sketch →

Rapid ideation

Joey was able to explore ideas and multiple concepts 2-3x faster than he normally would before refining the design direction

Through implementing this workflow the team realised three key efficiencies compared to a traditional process:

Joey and the Gravity Sketch team opted for a 3D tooling file over a traditional 2D blueprint to remedy the minor changes needed. This switch enabled collaborative review within Gravity Sketch, empowering them to provide informed and precise comments and decisions. These comments informed adjustments made within the 3D file. The file was seamlessly exchanged between factory partners using Rhino, minimizing the need for numerous back-and-forth hand-offs between the Gravity Sketch team and the factories.

Weeks to months of time is normally what it takes to go from tech pack to this level of a sample.

Explore                        in 3D

Access a folder of assets related to the shoe, including early iterations, as well as more refined surface models, lasts and tooling. For free!

Go to Khamis Studio Assets →


The communication of a product through orthographic views leaves a lot to the imagination. Often miscommunication leads to additional work, physical sampling, and interpersonal frustrations. 3D has the ability to strengthen the relationship between all stakeholders working on the project. 

Ideation classically takes place with pen on paper, it is fast and helps unlock ideas for the designer; it's a true art form that we love. However, ideating around the true physicality of the idea and capturing volumetric information and contractions of the work cannot be done with 2D mediums.

Most shoes require numerous sample iterations to accurately reflect the designer’s intent.These multiple rounds of sampling leads to a need for designers to fly to the factory and work hand in hand with the partners to lock in the final product.

Explore                        in 3D

Access a folder of assets related to the shoe, including early iterations, as well as more refined surface models, lasts and tooling. For free!

Go to Khamis Studio Assets →