Designing for Bicycling: Craft Punk: Bike BeSpoke

Bike basket workshop. Liesl Hazelton

A really enjoyable part of my job as producer of the Craft Punk programs at the Powerhouse Museum is finding young designers who can adapt their creative ideas to designing projects around a particular theme.  These projects are then offered to the crafting and design community as workshops and an intensive and joyful weekend of making ensues. Craft Punk runs three times a year at the Museum.

The second in our Craft Punk program in October, Bike BeSpoke was themed in response to growth of the bicycling community in our carbon conscious times. After doing some intensive research into what kind of accoutrements could be made for bicycling I was struck by how limited the range was: bike baskets have not developed beyond the simple wicker or mass produced metal varieties.

Our three designers came up with some splendidly clever designs. None had designed for bike riding before: they were chosen for how well their current body of work and techniques could be adapted to the constraints of the project. We also dove-tailed the creative projects with bike maintenance, offered over the weekend by the Cycle-Re-Cycle Club.

Desperate to find a person who was able to design a bike basket with a punk twist, I stumbled upon Liesl Hazelton’s web site and noticed she had made a beautiful woven chair from electrical leads for the Italian Furniture Show in Milan. Liesl was up for the challenge and came back to me a few days later with the innovative idea of using wire lamp-shade frames (spied at the local tip) which she modified for the frame of the basket.

With her bower-bird resourcefulness, Liesl found all the electrical cords at building sites and these were used to weave the sides of the basket. Discarded bicycle inner tubing made the basket base. This kind of DIY attitude is the essence of what Craft Punk is about: ‘making do’ with what you have at hand and shaping something beautiful from limited resources. The baskets proved to be a knock-out! Most people who did the workshop modified the design to suit their own needs and inclinations – some even transformed the basket into very cool free-form woven lampshades.

Riding at night can be hazardous: anything that improves visibility is a plus. Unfortunately there is little attempt at aesthetics when it comes to designing safety apparel. Cecilie Knowles is a fine crochet artist and graphic designer who creates detailed jewellery that is sold at Gaffa gallery and at the Collect shop at Object gallery. I asked Cecilie if she could come up with an idea for a wearable piece that was easy to make and highly visible at night. Cecilie found some beautiful reflective Paracord used for caving, which she then designed into a bracelet and a neckband.

I have been aware of the Miss Fee blog for some time. Fiona Donovan, the woman behind the blog, is a designer in the television industry by day and at night she knits a profusion of gorgeous garments. She uses highly intricate patterns. Fiona took to the project with zeal and created several pattern ideas for knitted bike accoutrements. The little musette bike bag pattern you can download (  Musette bag instructions by Fiona Donovan PDF)

The workshops on offer at Craft Punk: Bike BeSpoke were inspiring starting points: the makers took away learnt skills that they could adapted to suit their own bicycling or other creative needs.