From left to right: Matt Cardinal, Nate Meschke, Dan Rowe, Paul Backett and Sam Amis.
Based in beautiful (but rainy) Portland, Oregon, Ziba and Signal Cycles are partnering up to take on the Oregon Manifest design challenge. With a dedicated indoor bike storage room at Ziba headquarters, it would be an understatement to say that the design firm is "bike-friendly." All three of the industrial designers working on this challenge bike to work each morning, rain or shine. In fact, the team mantra is "there is no such thing as bad weather...just bad gear." Founded in 2007, Signal Cycles specializes in beautiful hand-built bicycles. These two friends grew up working in bike shops and they realized after graduating with fine art school degrees that, "we were perfectly equipped for working in a bike shop." So they started their own. Even in one of the most bike-friendly city in the United States, Team Ziba x Signal Cycles hope to address some of the obstacles to biking - from comfort to safety and everything in between - with passion as the driving force behind this unique pairing of design and craft.
C77: How many of you commute by bike?
Ziba x Signal Cycles: All of us. The morning commute gives us time to think, clear our heads and get ready for the day ahead; it's a way to start out the day on the right foot. Portland's renowned bike-friendliness coupled with Ziba's outstanding support of cyclocommuters make it relatively easy to get in the habit of daily commuting. Ziba has a large indoor bike storage room where you see everything from the latest high-end carbon fiber racing bike to the 30-year-old beater with a basket and plastic flowers on front. Even on the nastiest of winter days when Portland's infamous rain is pouring down, the Ziba bike room is filled with dripping bikes. In fact, our mantra here is, "there is no such thing as bad weather...just bad gear. Commuting by bike is something that comes naturally to us.
Bike Culture is...
...an overused phrase. Bike culture is (or should be) inclusive. It is defined by the moment when we take that first powerful pedal stroke and propel ourselves forward. We are not bike snobs; we celebrate the fact that anyone can ride. We want more people to ride.
In what ways could your city be more accommodating to bicyclists?
What could Portland do to better accommodate cyclists? Stop raining! In all seriousness we feel lucky to live in one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States. It's something that is difficult to fully understand until you have actually ridden here. The city's scale and layout is bikeable and drivers are generally aware of and courteous towards cyclists. That being said, there is always work to do so that cyclists and automobiles literally share the road.
Our reasons for riding are as diverse as the bikes we ride. We ride to save money, we ride to save the planet, we ride to for our health, we ride for our sanity. Our reasons for riding vary from day to day. Sometimes we ride because after a long day in the studio, there is nothing better than a heart-thumping, pedal-mashing ride. Other days we ride out of necessity; because it's the best way to get there. As you know, there are days when climbing onto the saddle sounds like cruel and unusual punishment, but once
we're a couple miles down the road we remember why we do it. Why do we ride? We ride because we like to ride.
Any starting inspiration you'd like to share?
As romantic as we are about how wonderful it is to bike, it's not always easy to get out there and ride. In our daily commutes and rides we confront obstacles that prevent us from riding, inhibit our comfort and safety or generally annoy us. We are inspired by these obstacles because we believe that we can address them in our design. The creative collaboration partnership between Ziba and Signal will allow us to approach the design problem from multiple perspectives and areas of expertise. Collaboration, problem solving and craft; that's what gets us really excited about this project.
What is your collective goal with this project?
Ziba and Signal have a common perspective: we both exist to create beautiful experiences. The act of riding a bike is (or can be) a beautiful experience in and of itself. However, in our experience there are certain things about the bike, or the road, or the weather or the cars around us that get in the way of the ultimate beautiful experience. Our goal is to design a bike that allows the rider to focus on the simple beauty and utility of bicycle riding. In short, we want to design a kick-ass bike.
What separates your team's design philosophy and approach to this challenge from the other teams?
We're not sure what approach the other teams will take, but we are excited to learn more about our similarities and differences throughout this process. There is so much energy and passion around this effort and we are really excited to see the way each team creatively addresses the design brief.
Any words for the other design teams?
Designers and cyclists are, at their core, passionate about what they do (and for some reason many designers are also cyclists). We are excited and curious to see how each team approaches the convergence of these two passions. We know we're in good company with both IDEO and Fuseproject, as well as the many student design teams and independent designers that will be joining the competition.