Yamaha, which produces both musical instruments and two-wheeled vehicle, recently undertook a fun experiment: Take designers from one department, and have them design stuff ordinarily handled by the other department.
The resultant AH A MAY project—that's "Yamaha" spelled backwards"—yielded four objects. Yamaha Motor Co.'s design team, which ordinarily handles motorcycles and bicycles, leveraged their expertise with bent tubing to create "Raijin" ("God of the Thunder"), which looks like a zero-gravity drum kit:
This design seeks to create an ideal form that will allow human beings to go beyond existing methods to express themselves. The design resembles a globe and allows performers to let their imaginations run wild on an assortment of different kinds of drums. Energy erupts centered on the performer and creates an increasingly visually dynamic world of sound.
The musical instrument design team came up with "Root", a motorcycle whose concept I frankly find impenetrable:
By taking the meters on the instrument panel off the motorcycle rider's view, the idea of the design is to enable him or her to be a part of the passing scenery. The form was created to flow from the seat to the fuel tank and was inspired by a horse motif that aims to give a sense of unity among people, nature, and the vehicle.
Judging by the editing in this video, the vehicle is almost certainly not rideable:
Again utilizing bent tubing, the Motor Co. design group developed "Fujin" ("God of the Wind"), a marimba that incorporates a motorcycle's two-seat configuration:
This marimba is designed for two performers and allows them to add and multiply their energy. The seating of the performers brings to mind the image of a two-seater motorcycle and enables the performers to enjoy the thrill of unexpected swings and gaps as they play the marimba.
While you can't tell from the still photos, the team cleverly added rotary motion to the equation:
The musical instrument design team's other effort was "Zero Plus/Minus Zero," a prototype for an electrically power-assisted bicycle and charging stand:
The electric-power assisted bicycle is placed on a recharging stand, and when cyclists pedal it, this recharges the battery. The battery power can then be taken out of the stand and the electricity generated shared with the family and used to power musical instruments and other electric appliances. The design aims to suggest a lifestyle that takes a positive attitude and approach toward power usage.
The A HA MAY project was undertaken primarily to create a Yamaha exhibition at France's recent Biennale Interationale Design Saint-Etienne, and was not intended to serve as a true competition. Nevertheless, I have to say I'm more impressed at the transportation designers' ability to adapt than the other way 'round. The Motor Co. designers seem to have a better grasp of materials and stronger concept generation. (Admittedly it may not be fair to compare the two, as each field has distinctly different requirements.)
In any case, here are members of both teams discussing what they were going for, along with some cool process footage:
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Fantastic! I love how expressive both designs are. I could certainly see any of these concepts on stage or on the road, and I want that bike!
I must disagree with Rain's assessment of the relative success of each design team.