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    An artisan of simplistic structure and a great mind that thinks out of bounds is Shem Paronelli. Honing his craft from a young age, this bespoke minimalist seeks inspiration from the human physic to architectural foundations found around the world. An alluring young craftsman, yet well beyond his time.


    Words by Tia Muhammad
    Photography by Kosol Onwudinjor
    Styling by Daniel Obasi

    An artisan of simplistic structure and a great mind that thinks out of bounds is Shem Paronelli. Honing his craft from a young age, this bespoke minimalist seeks inspiration from the human physic to architectural foundations found around the world. An alluring young craftsman, yet well beyond his time.

    ONCHEK(OC): We are super excited to be introducing you to our ONCHEK customers, fans and followers. If you were to spark up a conversation to a complete stranger, how would you self-describe yourself?

    Shem Paronelli (SP): I’m a simple, fun-loving but private man with specific passions and convictions.

    OC: Very simply put, yet still intriguing… From handcrafting footwear to other brand’s stories, you’re profound in what you do. How did your love for the craft begin?

    SP: I’ve always loved the idea of creating and making stuff from a young age and for as long as I can remember, I always had an eye for details. I always thought of “making” instead of buying what’s already made. This drove me to learning and practicing other crafts before I finally started the SHEM PARONELLI ARTISANAL brand which is primarily known for footwear. This is because I developed a special fondness for leather and became fascinated also by the concept of “SHOE”; these “special objects” on which the entire physical human structure stands.

    OC: Wow. Anyone can clearly see architectural influences and minimalistic traits stitched throughout your designs, how did this signature touch of yours come to be?

    SP: For sure, architectural and minimalist elements among other traits make up the central core eminent in my design aesthetic. Architecture simply because this is how I perceive and approach “the concept of shoe”… it’s a structure, it serves as a foundational base, a construction, both solid and aesthetically appealing. And my love and fascination with brutalist architecture in particular quite seamlessly ties into the minimalism philosophy. Minimalism is purity, a stripping back, its functionality, restraint. It is a philosophy I live by. Minimalism says, “keep what works and serves a purpose and eschew what doesn’t, it’s not necessary”.

    OC: Yes, the way the two come together in your designs is astonishing. You’ve also collaborated with some of the best fashion brands, from Maki Oh to Lisa Folawiyo, and now ONCHEK. What sparked this collaboration with the ONCHEK brand?

    SP: I think Mr. Chekwas is a great guy. He reached out to me about 2 years ago and expressed how much he loved our work and we spoke about how it’ll be great to work on something together sometime. But we weren’t sure in what way just yet. He also introduced me to his retail store which I checked out and really loved the overall concept and approach and how he is building it up in such an organic manner. Then sometime earlier on in the year he reached out to me with this idea which I thought was brilliant but wasn’t quite sure we could handle since we already had the year planned out. But I seemed to start to reconsider it as I became quite excited the more we spoke about it. And that’s how we both narrowed the idea down to doing this special, exclusive re-interpretation of our N-100 sneaker model.

    OC: This is ONCHEK’s first exclusive collection of footwear and we can’t wait to unveil it to the world. What would you say was the best part of creating this collaborative collection?

    SP: Every stage of this project was fun for me, from bouncing ideas with Mr. Chekwas on the direction to the hand-picking of best leathers (by the way these are so comfortable) down to the actual making of the sneakers. The energy throughout has been great.

    Shem with Adebayo Oke-Lawal of Orange Culture (see interview)

    OC: That’s really great to hear and these designer soccer shoes will certainly emerge as a trend this season, what was the inspiration behind the design’s aesthetic?

    SP: Ok, the take-off point was our already existing N-100 model. But we sought to re-imagine and approach it differently, drawing inspirations and ideas from a traditional soccer shoe.

    OC: Nice and what a re-imaginative shoe it is! For your fans and customers, what can they expect next from the great mind of Shem Paronelli?

    SP: We are an artisanal designer company and known primarily for our footwear but our vision extends into a much broader narrative. We are introducing a furniture and home collection sometime this year. Among other exclusive collections.

    Time for the switch-up…At ONCHEK we love to get to the essence of an individual in the short precious time that we have with them. Through 6 rapid-fire questions, we want you to answer each with the first thought that comes to mind. Ready? Don’t be nervous. Go!

    OC: What was the last good restaurant you tried for the first time?

    SP: Black Bell

    OC: The last stamp on your passport is from?

    SP: Ghana

    OC: Who was the last person you texted?

    SP: My twin sister.

    OC: If you had to swamp clothes with one person for a day, who would it be?

    AO: Maybe Yegwa Ukpo?

    OC: You just bought tickets to?

    AO: Mykonos

    OC: Current song on repeat is?

    AO: Assurance - Davido

    Keep in touch with Shem Ezemma on Instagram