Rayfish Footwear is a fictional company that offers personalized sneakers crafted from genetically modified stingray leather. It’s launch catalyzed a debate on new biotechnologies and questioned our (often all too consumptive) relationship with animals. We aimed to make that discussion tangible in a concrete product you can either love or hate.
An online science fiction story...
The rise and fall of Rayfish Footwear began with the launch of an online design tool that allowed customers to design their own sneaker from a genetically modified fish. The startup received lots of media attention and seemed bound for success, however, there were also critical petitions against the company’s consumptive use of animals.
While almost ten thousand people had designed their own fish sneaker, animal rights activists broke into the company and released all the fishes in the ocean. The CEO of the company, Raymond Ong, responded with a passionate video statement, which stirred further debate on our estranged relationship with products in a globalized world.
As Rayfish struggled finding new investors, the escaped fishes where out in the open and started appearing into video’s of tourists and fishermen. The story ended with the bankruptcy of Rayfish, after which the true objective of the company was revealed in a ‘making of video’.www.rayfish.com
The Rise and Fall of Rayfish Footwear
The short documentary on “The Rise and Fall of Rayfish Footwear” gives an overview of the entire project, its impact and the motivation of the makers.
Grow your own stingray with a pattern that you design. After a good life in the fishfarm, your fish is turned into a biocustomized sneaker.
Grow your own sneaker
Visitors of the Rayfish website could grow their own sneaker with the online design tool. The best designs would win their shoe. In reality seven highly exclusive stingray leather sneaker prototypes were created in collaboration with Dutch Shoe designer Jan Jansen. The stingray skins were provided by Roje Exotic Leather. The leather of the shoes has not genetically modified, but dyed with paint.
Countless prominent media, including Wired, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Glamour, Designboom and ABC News, reported on the project, which further catalyzed the discussion. A rayfish presskit containing images, texts and video material on the project is still available.
Almost 10.000 people designed a stingray on the rayfish website, showing their desire for a biocustomized sneaker. Meanwhile almost the same amount of people protested against the company, resulting in an intense discussion on the consumptive use of animals in our society.
The Rayfish Story in four chapters
CEO Lecture – How to grow your own sneaker
At the Next Nature Power Show 2011, Rayfish CEO Raymond Ong (portrayed by Carlo Scheldwacht) lectured on his innovative business model. By remixes the beauty & variety of nature into something nature could not have imagined.
Animal rights activist break-in at Rayfish headquarters
Destroying lab equipment and sneakers, and stealing numerous living stingrays. A video uploaded by the perpetrators on YouTube depicts masked men removing stingrays from the Rayfish aquaculture facility and releasing the animals into the nearby ocean.
Soon after the design tool was launched, various short youtube videos of people who had won a pair of Rayfish sneakers, started appearing online
Three days after the ‘break-in’ in the Rayfish facility, CEO Raymond Ong responded with a passionate statement that gained much sympathy.
A DVD of “The Rise and Fall of Rayfish Footwear” + bonus material of the various audiovisual elements of the project is no longer available in our webstore. In case you want to order the DVD, contact us!
Directed By: Koert Van Mensvoort, Ton Meijdam, Floris Kaayk
Actors: Rayfish CEO Raymond Ong – Carlo Scheldwacht, Animal Right Activists – Ton Meijdam, Koert Van Mensvoort, Thom Snels, Floris Kaayk, Rayfish PR person Barbara Pool – Allison Guy
Scenario: Koert Van Mensvoort, Ton Meijdam
Rayfish Shoe Design: Jan Jansen In collaboration with Meijdam & Van Mensvoort
Documentary Editing: Jack Hallam
Rayfish Corporate Identity: Ton Meijdam
Rayfish Commercial Editing: Floris Kaayk
Raymond Ong Speeches: Koert van Mensvoort, Allison Guy
Website & Design Tool Programming: Pascal de Man
Additional Programming: Reinier van Dijk
Voice Over Making of Video: Claire King
Voice Over Recording: Bob Kommer Studios
CEO Presentation Recording: RET:MEDIA
Rayfish Commercial Music: Julian Edwardes
Sneaker Fashion Photography: Frans van Lieshout
Additional Photography: Thom Snels, Tim van Dort, Bogdan Djordjev
Stingray 3D Modelling: Floris Kaayk
Website Design: Selma van Gorkum, Colinda Blijsterveld, Ton Meijdam, Koert van Mensvoort
Urban Legend Imagery: Floris Kaayk, Ton Meijdam, Koert van Mensvoort, Stefan Fincken
Additional Graphics: Stefan Fincken, Karolin Kraut, Theresa Lupprich, Brenda Knoll
Winner Movie Actors: Chad Bilyeu, Margot van Duren, Daniela Alejandra Navarrete, Allison Guy
Winner Movie Recordings: Allison Guy, Tom Meijdam
Production Break-in Recordings: Krista Te Brake
Design Tool Interaction Model: Bastiaan Ekeler, Pascal de Man, Koert van Mensvoort
Engine Pattern Design: Vinny Portier, Nona Weltevrede
Shoe Prototype: Egbert van der Does
Early Stingray Shoe Sketches: Ton Meijdam, Wouter Widdershoven
Ethical Research: Bastiaan Ekeler, Koert van Mensvoort
Scientific Feasibility Study: Koert van Mensvoort Allison Guy
Stingray Leather provided by: Roje Leather
Special Thanks to: Prof. Randy Lewis, Martijn de Waal, Annet Dekker, Thom Snels, Bela Zsigmond, Mieke Gerritzen, Hendrik-Jan Grievink, Wouter Widdershoven, Yvonne Taylor, Emar Vegt
Realized with Financial Support of: Dutch Film Fund, Media Fund, Stichting Doen, Mondriaan Fund