Which of these bikes has design world cache?

Hard as it may be for you to imagine—given my cultivated airs and savior faire —I actually come from a poor family. Poor, but creative. Thus it was never instilled in me that I should go to concerts or spend my money on art. Rather, I should write songs and paint my own paintings. Not until I found myself in architecture school, did I have to contend with bourgeois name droppers, who of course, ran rings around me with their little game, not only because their concert going, art buying parents had given them a head start, but because I was still too involved with creative pursuits of my own, to care about the creations of complete strangers, even if dropping their names could win me some strategic alliances.

It is not that lived in a shell. I listened to Laurie Anderson and Talking Heads records (who didn’t!) and had gotten a giggle out of a few contemporary artists—Eric Fischl stands out. My ignorance grew simply, from being too busy with my shit, to care about their shit. In a room full of famous designers, I would be like Zsa Zsa Gabor, calling everyone dahling.

The field of bicycle design provides a wonderful testing ground of famous designers’ integrity. Any time a named designer steps into this ring, they risk merciless heckling, from long standing connoisseurs of frame geometries, investment cast lugs and cable routing debates. You know the kinds of connoisseurs to whom I refer: facial hair, live in Portland, wear out Rohloff hubs. To people like these, cycling is a rejection of big city conceits. Hillbilly conceits are less changeable.

I guess they wouldn’t like Philippe Starck’s bike-share design for Bordeaux, and wouldn’t like Philippe Starck either, if they knew who he is, and what he stands for: mass produced goods, at custom-made prices. They would ask which of the bikes on this page, betrayed the highly attuned sensibility, organic lines, and characteristic boldness with regards to materials choices, that mark it as belonging to Stark’s oeuvre, and which ones I found on Alibaba. To be honest, I wonder too.


  1. Hemp Bike says:

    Not sure what “Design Word Cache” means but for me the bicycle’s cache derives from its irreducibility & efficiency. Thus I’ll give you “images_2” & “images_5.”

    “ebc1bb5cd32d580740417cf7944167ae” and “1280-visuel-velo-for-bordeaux-by-sarck” both fail abysmally, their greatest sin being the very wide Q that will wreck the cyclist’s knees & waste power. These two and all the others (except the two I first conceded) will require too much material to compensate for their non-triangulated frames and/or will suffer badly from flex – either way they are neither irreducible nor efficient.

    • Steven says:

      Hey thanks for jumping into a kind of discussion I love. I wrote a blog entry ages ago (http://cycle-space.com/?p=6044) where I argued that bikes become more artistic, the more we’re prepared to compromise on utility. However, that was working with a definition of “art” borrowed from Arthur Danto, not a definition of “design”.

  2. Hemp Bike says:

    While I’m still not sure what it means I agree “Design World Cache” is different to Art. I am impressed by the argument that if human affairs were organised such that each was empowered, permitted and encouraged to be as creative as his or her talents allowed in his or her every-day activities we could make a strong case for closing all the galleries. In respect of the bicycle has not Velorbis already done this?

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