It’s a sandal. No, it’s a frame. What is it? The modular hinge sandal, San Francisco State University student Arvind Gupta’s award-winning invention that bagged the gold at the Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA), is an innovation that allows consumers to change the look of footwear without having to buy new shoes. With Gupta’s original sandal design users will only have to purchase one shoe frame and choose various styles of outer sleeves, thus changing the look of the footwear without another trip to the shoe store.

According to Gupta, his patent-pending sandal design is like nothing available on the market, which is what drove him to come up with such an invention. He spent six months working on his idea when he noticed that the sandal selection in the market was not only limited, but also tied to high manufacturing costs and consumer prices.


“This design redefines the sandal,” said Craig Vogel, IDEA jury member and associate dean of the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University. “The designer has created a sandal that fits into the vocabulary that has emerged for athletic footwear.”

The IDEA, sponsored by BusinessWeek and juried by the Industrial Designers Society of America, is an annual contest in which product designers are honored in 12 categories.

Since winning the award, Gupta has received e-mails from product designers around the world. Gupta, who also has a patent pending on an insulated food container he designed, believes his product is marketable and will consider licensing it to a shoe company.