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A Well-Heeled Designer Takes the Unexpected Route

This article originally appeared in California Home + Design

San Francisco shoe designer Martha Davis gravitates toward the unexpected. From her studio garage–cum–showroom in Hayes Valley, she carries out her vision for sculptural designs that are also supremely wearable, inventing geometrically complex heel shapes and topping them with butter-soft vachetta leather. “The finish is as important as the form, and I like the juxtaposition of raw and polished materials,” says Davis.

Her history of veering off the beaten path extends back to her undergraduate days, when she hightailed it out of Cornell University to study sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design. More recently, she abandoned a successful corporate career as a technology and design insider during the Bay Area’s first dot-com boom for a crash course in shoemaking, traveling to Milan to hone the craft and visit the factories that would later produce her line. Her gamble paid off, and her sartorial fan club now snaps up Martha Davis designs in boutiques from SF to Tokyo. For this custom California sandal, she combined an upper made of vegetable-tanned leather from Napa Valley with a black acacia-wood wedge trimmed in gold leaf.

This was originally published in the Spring '14 issue of California Home+Design. Click here to subscribe.