Unconventional as it might seem, an ocean-damaged pair of shoes spurred Christian Fuda’s passion for industrial design.
When Fuda ‘18 was a rising high school junior, he revived his saltwater-logged sneakers by hand-painting them. This project evolved into a hobby—and eventually a small business, Fuda Customs—as his classmates and others took notice and began to place orders for paint jobs for their shoes. As committed to function as he is to form, Fuda conducted research and identified techniques to prevent cracking and ensure the shoes’ durability.
He has completed more than 100 custom shoe designs for clients all around the U.S., as well as from Australia, England, Russia, and Singapore. Fuda donated one pair of his hand-crafted sneakers as a raffle prize in support of the Green Gecko Project, and auctioned off an original “Boston Strong”-themed pair with all proceeds benefiting victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
While he scaled back significantly upon arriving at NC state, he still accepts a few Fuda Customs orders each month. Fuda’s work with sneaker design laid a solid foundation for his major, which focuses on product design, user interaction studies, and user experience design.
“Industrial design is extremely hands-on and deals with problem solving and making people’s lives better,” Fuda said. “I am currently hoping to pursue a career in footwear design, while incorporating my passion for sustainability.”
To expand his knowledge of both the design and business aspects of the footwear industry, Fuda spent the summer following his freshman year interning with ISlide USA, a customized sandal company based near his hometown of Hull, Mass. There, Fuda helped design an innovative footbed for future sandal models, created mock-up designs for customers’ orders, and assisted in the social media and marketing department. He also developed a method for removing ink from botched sandal orders, allowing them to be reused.
“In addition to the creative projects I was involved in, I was fortunate enough to be able to see firsthand how sales are made and see a company grow from the inside,” Fuda said of his time at ISlide. “I not only bettered my artistic skills, but also learned the importance of research when developing projects.”
This past summer, Fuda took his industrial design exploration to other shores by participating in NC State’s Prague Institute.
“Studying abroad in Prague was an amazing experience. It was really cool to be fully immersed in the Czech culture and gain a better understanding of universal design,” said Fuda. “We were able to work hands-on with a local luggage company called Kazeto. With them we developed new concept designs for their company using their current manufacturing processes and materials.”
Fuda is one of a few students whose designs Kazeto is considering for production.
When he’s not in the College of Design’s studios, Fuda spends his time on campus serving on the executive board of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. As philanthropy chair, he has organized several events to raise funds for the ALS Association. He volunteers periodically with Miracle League of the Triangle, which affords children with special needs the opportunity to play baseball. Fuda also assists with design projects for the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
“I think my favorite memory of being a Park Scholar so far is our Learning Lab II trip, where we were able to go to D.C. and learn about how the government handles infectious disease,” said Fuda. “I am extremely grateful to the Park Scholarships program, as it has helped me create many opportunities and build connections to grow as a person and in my field.”