Japan’s No.1
Sneaker Marketplace

19th June 2023 EDT FEATURES

How I Built a 3D-Printed Sneaker Brand: ALIVEFORM Founder

Footwear designer Pek Shun Ping takes us on an exciting journey through the world of 3D-printed shoes.


3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a revolutionary technology that has transformed various industries and opened up new possibilities in our modern age. Widely used as a tool for creating product models and prototypes, these days we are seeing a rise in brands venturing into 3D-printed sneakers and other footwear designs.

Sneaker giants adidas and Nike introduced their own versions of 3D-printed shoes through the adidas 4D range and Nike ISPA series. But it is the independent players who have demonstrated to us the potential of 3D printing tech, through innovative concepts and unique silhouettes. One of them: Tokyo-based Singaporean footwear designer Pek Shun Ping.

Driven by a passion in footwear design and 3D printing, Shun Ping’s dedication to the technology eventually led to the establishment of his own brand ALIVEFORM in 2022. The brand has released two conceptual collections ARMIS and MONSTERA thus far, and are currently showcased at Sneakertopia, an ongoing immersive sneaker museum pop-up.

ARMIS, Latin word for armor, pays homage to nature’s protective designs. Inspired by the natural shields and resilient forms of cactus and seashells, the all-black collection is available in four variations including low-top, mid-cut and slide versions.

MONSTERA, on the other hand, is an unconventional silhouette inspired by the monstera plant, and is available in four colorways: Lime, Charcoal, Mud and Chalk.

During our visit to Sneakertopia, we had the privilege of meeting and chatting with the young visionary behind ALIVEFORM’s captivating creations. Read on to find out how Shun Ping built one of the world’s first 3D-printed sneaker brand.

Tell us more about yourself and your brand ALIVEFORM.

Hi, my name is Shun Ping. I am the founder of ALIVEFORM, a Tokyo-based 3D-printed footwear brand that takes nature as a source of inspiration and applying it to footwear designs. This includes the ergonomic structures and cushioning system in footwear which can all be created using 3D printing technology.

As a Singaporean creative, what led to you basing your career in the foreign country of Japan?

I was working in a packaging and branding consultancy and requested to move to their Tokyo branch office. While there, I transitioned to footwear design because of my passion, which eventually led to the start of my own brand.

During the process, I’ve come to learn that Japan is a perfect place for designers like myself, in terms of how their culture and landscapes evoke inspirations and ideas.

Would you consider yourself a big sneaker collector?

I wouldn’t consider myself a sneaker collector, but rather more of a sneakerhead. I guess it’s mainly because of storage concerns, especially when it comes to living in Japan. I only own about 20 pairs, but I do take my time to constantly keep myself updated on the latest releases.

Do you have any favorite pairs among your collection?

There are a few collaborative series that I tend to gravitate to, like 11 By BBS x Salomon and Rick Owens x adidas, or more specifically, the ACRONYM x Nike Lunar Force 1. I find myself drawn towards designers who are considered “niche”, as the visions reflected in their designs seem to stand out more to me.

How did you decide on the concept of 3D printing for ALIVEFORM?

I actually started ALIVEFORM because I wanted to create 3D-printed footwear. With a background in product design, I’ve always thought about the ways of how I can come up with something new and innovative. And 3D printing seems like the answer to that.

Footwear design itself is a well-established field, which also made me wonder how I can add more value to it and how 3D-printing can open new possibilities to the market.

How have your years of working in a branding agency influence you in building your own footwear brand?

I realize it enabled me to set a clear identity for my brand. In the case of ALIVEFORM, it would be creating a cohesive space that blends nature and sci-fi elements. So I would definitely say my experience has a strong impact on how I want others to view my brand.

3D-printed shoes are still considered niche in the sneaker market. What are some of the challenges you faced with ALIVEFORM?

With 3D printing, it involves a lot of trial and error, which includes tweaking the technology to suit a certain way of producing footwear. And since our platform is mainly digital-based, it is important to understand how we can efficiently present our products (to consumers) both digitally and physically.

Guide us through the ALIVEFORM production process.

It starts with a rough sketch which will be iterated into a 3D format by myself. I will then hand over the designs to the production company and they will get back to me with samples. From then on, it’s practically similar to regular production processes, where we try the products and see if there are any adjustments needed to be made.

Would you consider 3D-printed footwear as a form of art?

That’s a very interesting question. Currently, I consider it as a form of art, but moving forward I assume the technology would become more mainstream and 3D-printed shoes may be regarded as just an alternative form of footwear product.

Thoughts on having your products showcased at Sneakertopia?

As a founder of a brand that has only been around for less than a year, seeing my works being displayed at one of my favorite art museum in Singapore is definitely an honor and also a huge personal achievement.

What are your future plans for ALIVEFORM?

I would definitely hope to boost ALIVEFORM’s presence in the scene, be it through pop-up events or physical launches. Like what was mentioned previously, allowing the public to experience our products both digitally and physically is an important factor, so promoting in areas such as Asia and Europe would be an ideal plan.

Any advice for creatives who are looking to start their own brand?

Upon reflection, I would say: it’s best to take action. That is one out of many things that I’ve learned from classes held by the late Virgil Abloh, which really inspired me in the course of my career.

Any messages to our readers?

I hope everyone reading this can take their time and come experience the ALIVEFORM space at Sneakertopia. I promise to bring you guys more exciting collections in the future so please look forward to that.

Sneakertopia is ongoing at the ArtScience Museum until 30 July. Find out more about what you can see and how you can see them here.