December 27, 2011

Distinctive Design: A Bespoke Bike (and Nun Too Soon)!


Ron Arad's bespoke bike.

I think you’ll see why this product riveted my attention enough to inspire me to feature it today–a post that is a bit “off point” for me, though completely in keeping with my fascination with designers who have a penchant for using materials in surprising ways. This design is one of those antithetical impressions that provokes a double-take: a gleaming silver bicycle with…lacy steel wheels? It seems to have glided straight out of the Beatles’ “Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds” video, had there been one. And I understand it rides quite nicely, thank you very much!

Ron Arad's Two Nuns Bicycle.

Called the Two Nuns Bicycle, this is the work of the technologic daredevil designer Ron Arad and it’s his contribution to the W Hotels’ WOW Bikes auction, a philanthropic design event for Elton John’s AIDS Foundation. Six different imaginings were commissioned for the cause, all available for Leicester Square guests to pedal about at the London property before being peddled off the auction block on World AIDS Day 2011.

Truly a bespoke bike, the 18 ribbons of sprung steel are bent and pinned into graceful floral patterns, transferring their strength across their confluences and delivering a surprisingly soft, cushioned ride. Arad pioneered a similar principle with his Well Tempered Chair in 1986, exploring the “give” of tempered steel held in tension with strategically positioned fasteners.

Tom Price, whose work captivated Design Miami/ audiences, is one of Arad's former students.

Tom Price, whose work captivated Design Miami/ audiences, is one of Arad’s former students.

His endless fascination with industrial materials and processes has yielded an amazing variety of re-visionings since the Israeli-born creator set up shop in Britain in the early 1980’s. His furniture design company One Off has morphed into today’s Ron Arad Associates in North London, now predominantly architectural, while Arad himself enlivens the Design Products masters degree program at the Royal College of Art. His tutelage in questioning typologies has spawned a whole new generation of graduates happily experimenting and expanding our notions beyond the predictable and the probable.

This goes under the caveat “Don’t try this in your local W Hotel!” Well, we’ve gotta have a bit of holiday fun, don’t we? Enjoy!

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