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In 2001, Tim Brennan invented the Vivobarefoot concept whilst studying for an MA at the Royal College of Art, London. The idea had been in his imagination for at least two years following a eureka moment whilst walking home from an Alexander technique class in 1999. The Alexander technique teacher, Colette Lyons, (formerly a sprinter) had made a huge impression on Tim as she taught how the human body best functions during walking and running. Walking home from the class, Tim realised that the technique he had just been performing perfectly well without shoes on now became very difficult because of his trainers.


It was at that point that he imagined a shoe that would allow the foot to feel the ground and flex freely – like a second skin that allowed a completely natural interaction with the ground. At that time however, he was in the middle of a mechanical engineering degree and not only lacked the time to take on this project but also the University had all design rights of anything he created until graduation.

In Spring 2001, Tims idea finally took shape for the first time when he was given free reign to create any product of his choosing under the theme of “economics“. The easiest way to make a shoe was to cut off the soul of one of his trainers and replace it with thin material. Not having anything else to hand he took an old tennis rackets cover and cut out to fit shaped pieces to replace the solver here just carefully sliced off scalpel.

Walking over the pavement outside felt to Tim like a crucial moment in the Inventing process. He was sure that he had something that not only could help him play tennis without injuries, but allow Everyone in the world to discover as he had how wonderful it is when the foot is allowed to work as it has evolved to work.

However, when returning back to the college 
there were many challenges to overcome. Earlier on, Tim’s enthusiasm was met with scepticism and doubts from some of the staff who said that the product could not be continued unless it was in someway validated by medical research. This was a setback at first, but Tim decided to rise to the challenge and spent the whole of his summer break in the British library reading dozens of scientific papers going back 100 years. Whilst the vast majority of the literature was funded by the big shoe companies, he found a handful of papers that were very exciting. It has been long known in the medical community that countries that were too poor to afford shoes had a complete absence of all the foot elements that were extremely common in the western world. This information gave Tim the green light to be able to take his shoe concepts and develop it for the remainder of his degree.

But then, another setback appeared as Tim realised that the idea of anything "barefoot" was largely seen as something uncivilised and dangerous. People were concerned that the feet could be accidentally cut or be exposed to nasty diseases if not inside a shoe. While busy dealing with that, another problem arose - the sewing machines that Tim had been using in the fashion department were now out of bounds to him because he was not from that department.


These were major hurdles to overcome especially given that there were only a few short months before graduation, so Tim set about looking for a space age material that would not only be puncture resistant but also be thin, light, and flexible. He also found that after 9pm the fashion department was empty and so could secretly use the sewing machines after dark.

After scouring the internet for many hours, he finally learned that law-enforcement gloves had been successfully utilising woven Kevlar to ensure that police officers could frisk a suspect without risk of getting AIDS from a needle. 
This material multiplied the puncture resistance of a thin sole tenfold and was instrumental in alleviating peoples fears of treading on sharp glass on the streets.


Tim graduated in 2002, and started approaching the major shoe manufacturers in order to get the shoe out to the people. After a nearly a year of rejections it was clear that the big companies were not interested. Yet when Tim had all but given up, whilst playing a tennis tournament in West London, one of his opponents struck up a conversation about his strange looking prototype shoes. That led to an introduction to the clerks family, who agreed to produce Tims Vivo shoe under license.


In 2018, it was identified that slicing vegetables with a mandoline poses a significant risk to the end user. While many of these products were supplied with handguards, people were still getting injured. Some of the most popular designs on the market had not changed much in more than 50 years. Looking into the details of the injuries, mostly the handguard was not being used at the time. Looking into these products in detail, it became obvious to Tim that while the handguards worked well for some vegetables, such as small potatoes and onions, they didn't work for others such as celery, peppers and carrots. 

It was clear that a new versatile handguard was needed, and so Tim set about a 6 month experimental project to design and build over 20 different handguards with the aim of giving the user an intuitive direct grip.  


The process created a food gripper that wrapped around the food so it can adapted to different shapes and sizes of vegetable. The design caught the attention of Joseph Joseph and was launched as the Multi-Grip Mandoline in 2020.

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