You thought Graeme Obree’s ‘Old Faithful’ was radical.? Well, check out Gianluca Gimini’s Velocipedes!
Gianluca is an Italian designer who is heavily influenced by and exposed to U.S culture; telling us he refers to himself as Italian/American. He trained as an architect but has not practised since graduating. Instead, he has focused his work on design, blending the lines between graphics, product design and illustration. Today he is a freelance design consultant, a design teacher at University of Ferrara and also writes for design magazines.
We were so blown away by the bikes we just had to find about more about the project:
What was inspiration behind these set of works?
It all started in 2009 in a bar in Bologna where I was chatting with a friend. We were talking about school time memories and I recalled this very embarrassing moment: a classmate was being questioned by our technical education teacher. He was doing pretty bad and was on the verge of tears at a certain point, so the teacher tried to help him out by asking him to describe his bicycle. The poor kid panicked and couldn’t even remember if the driving wheel was the front or the rear one. My friend laughed at this story and said that anyone who has ridden a bike must know how it’s made. Then he tried drawing one on a napkin and miserably failed. That’s the day I started collecting bike drawings.
At some point though (it’s hard to say exactly when) I realised I was gathering some great material for what is called a crowd-sourced project. Many projects of this kind are aimed at making a singular, merged design of the gathered materials. But I thought every one of the bikes I was receiving had unique features that needed to be highlighted.
Is there any particular artists or designers that you are interested in that inspired this work?
I am interested in a ton of designers and artists and I think they all somehow influence my work. The encounter with the works of Aaron Koblin really urged me to do something with the bicycle drawings. Koblin is a world famous artist and designer whose entire activity is focused on crowd sourced projects. I even got the chance to interview him for the Italian il Sole 24 ore newspaper.
How many drawings did you collect and did you have a selected range of people you collected from for example: aged 18-40?
Officially they are 376, but people keep asking to draw bikes for me and I am not one to refuse any generous offer. So far the youngest participant was 3 years old and the oldest 88.
How did you create the final image of the bikes?
Actually I just have some pretty mad post production skills. All these are pictures of different bikes and components all shot in more or less the same angle and light. All merged together with some very heavy editing.
I selected sketches that were perfectly intelligible and clearly diverging from the correct archetype of a bike. I also chose them because they were made in the genuine effort to actually represent the correct archetype and not intentionally “weird”. Among all the sketches with these characteristics I picked some that embodied some of the oddest possible features, such as Alessandro’s right-sided frame and chain attached to both wheels or Leonardo’s incredible pedal-less and chain-less velocipede.
Which of the designs is your favourite?
I cannot really say I have a favourite, but Rosalba’s and Annarita’s drawings are really special to me. I like Rosalba’s mudguards emerging directly from the frame. I would want a bike with that feature in real life! I like the fact that Annarita’s sketch is so synthetic, with just one pedal and the wheels attached by the tire instead of the hub. When I rendered hers and all the other bike sketches I tried not to be too literal though, or it would have seemed like my intention was mocking people for their mistakes, while in reality my scope was, on the contrary, celebrating the diversity of new typologies emerging from my collection.
Would you ever create one of these designs as an actual bicycle?
I have a friend who is an artisanal bike manufacturer. He studied my renderings and gave me quotations to actually produce the bikes as a numbered and extremely limited series.
They will be purchasable as art pieces and should never ever be ridden! The only one that would be safe to ride would be Massimo’s. Annarita’s would be theoretically functional but it would need some good engineering and probably lose its proportions.
Maybe just a few more…