Via DC Shoes
Via DC Shoes
A few months ago I wrote a post about the Biophilia Hypothesis which states how humans have an instinctive bond to nature and the natural environment. I thought that if a new design could encourage consumers to enjoy nature, that experience would strengthen the Biophilia bond and make us more inclined to make environmentally friendly choices in our urban everyday lives.
In that respect I think outdoor equipment companies over the last 10 years have done a great deal to encourage consumers to experience nature and although difficult to measure, they have probably also helped people become more environmentally aware.
The first big motorcycle trade show of the season, EICMA 2013 is only a few weeks away. As I’ve always been passionate about bikes, it got me thinking what kind of new motorcycle design concept would I want to see this year?
I’ve ridden out to camp in the Oregon High desert a few times, but have always been held back by my fuel limitations. Basically my 20 liters was enough to just get me in and out and so I wasn’t able to do much motorcycle exploring beyond camp (yes, alternatively I could also have loaded the motorcycle onto my truck until I got to the desert trails, but it would have meant not riding the mountain roads along the way).
Back to the Biophilia Hypothesis; in a sense Motocross motorcycles like hiking products also encourage consumers onto nature trails, but the spirit seems to be more of adrenalin filled screaming and racing than appreciation for nature, travel and exploration (such as is hiking).
Now with the advent of electric motorcycles I think there can be a good opportunity to design motorcycles for nature appreciation, more sustainable wilderness exploration and with a true outdoor spirit.
A quiet, but powerful motorcycle that can encourage consumers to venture further into the outdoors and for longer periods of time. To smell and even hear more of nature, detaching from the urban triggers and routine, to strengthen our bond with nature and encourage the development of more environmentally friendly perspectives and culture?
Creating a new market and an authentically “green” Motorcycle.
The E-Venture concept is a sustainable motorcycle which can refuel itself through it’s integrated renewable energy accessories, allowing riders to venture deep into the wilderness. It’s a personal idea I’ve wanted to illustrate for a very long time and now learning about the Biophilia Hypothesis it makes even more sense to leverage it’s eco-culture creating potential.
I chose to use the Brammo label as an homage because they seem to have always pushed their electric motorcycle visions even against the greatest odds. Brammo is also from Oregon which was in part the inspiration to this idea.
Following the growing trend of Meta-Identity multi-use products, a phone becomes an internet browsing device, a GPS and a music player and camera. The bike carries an integrated wind turbine and a tent made with photovoltaic film. Both technologies are then used to charge 2 support batteries and even the main motorcycle battery when the bike is not in use. So you can also ride around camp even while the support batteries are charging.
Click on each image for a Hi-Res close up view.
Although I agree that styling and aesthetic are very important, I feel there also needs to be a deeper more holistic design vision to sustain cultural progress. Designs that offer more benefits than style and speed.
Introducing the Biophilia Motorcycle Experiment, an environmental design vision.
A new outdoor mobility package, possibly through collaboration, leveraging the technological resources of a motorcycle manufacturer and the outdoor vision of a brand such as Merrell, or Arc’teryx.
Or better still, despite the dystopian undertones of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, what if the governments or brands also installed solar and wind power motorcycle/vehicle charging stations in remote areas of parks?
Although quite how reliably electric enduro bikes will function in dust, mud and water remains to be seen. Not to mention the additional mining and depletion of rare earth metals & minerals required to make the electric components. And while the technology may not yet exist to make this concept feasible, who would have said the electric motorbikes would become feasible 10 years ago?
Without vision and ideals, there can be no progress.
For more bike designs and sketches click HERE
How do we design products which leave no traces of waste (or not more than can be sustainable)?
And how do we create commercial advantages from it?
It’s an ideal, but without goals there is no progress.
Interestingly the Swiss government already locates leaks in it’s waste water treatment plants, by tracing back the non-biodegradable artificial sweeteners (used in food and drink) from contaminated Swiss lakes through springs and rivers.
While on one hand Karl Marx wrote in his “mature analysis of the alienation of nature” about a Metabolic (irreparable) Rift that would occur between humans and nature from capitalist agricultural production and the growing division between town and country (today, 56% of the world’s population, 4.4 billion inhabitants live in cities).
On the other hand the Biophilia Hypothesis by Edward O. Wilson is a theory in Evolutionary Biology which offers us some hope by suggesting that there is an instinctive bond (a Genetic Memorymark) between human beings and other living systems.
Meaning that humans naturally have an instinctive attraction to nature. Think about how many people enjoy gardening, flowers, stray cats and country walks. Supposedly these preferences aren’t cultural, but evolutionary behavior that developed to benefit our survival as a species. For example the love for flowers and plants developed so humans would remember and spot species that provided nutrition.
Also consider how natural environments remains beautiful even on cloudy or rainy days, whereas man made environments don’t.
If this hypothesis is true, then maybe a way to help the transition to a more environmentally friendly culture, could be if outdoor companies and government nurtured that Biophilic bond that already exists. With designs and initiatives that encouraged and facilitated outdoor experiences, contact and connection to the natural environment.
Personally I don’t think it gets any better than doing a sport or pursuit which brings you into nature.
For more on this subject check out a previous post titled “Outdoor Performance Design – The Key to a Sustainable Future?”
On a side note the intro to Björk’s latest music project called “Biophilia”.
The designs can communicate natural beauty like foliage and proud statement to be outdoors.
And marketing can also communicate a soft approach to nature. Because product is not just for consumption, but can also be used for education.
Denali “The High One” is not only the highest mountain in North America, but has the highest base to peak rise of any mountain in the world situated above sea level.
Denali was summited for the first time on June 7th 1913, almost 40 years before the first successful summit of Mt. Everest.
In 100 years since that first ascent only about half of those who have attempted the climb made it to the summit.
The video below celebrates this achievement that took 93 days, climbing in temperatures of -21 F, wearing primitive mountaineering clothes made from gabardine, wool, and tweed and using climbing gear that included ropes made from natural fibers and ice axes made from wood and forged steel.
The expedition remains a precious example of human strength, commitment and resolution.
A first hand written account of the expedition, The Ascent of Denali by Hudson Stuck can be read and downloaded at The Gutenberg Project HERE
Whether its a backpack frame or a shoe sole, optimizing balance in motion is a very important factor in the design of any performance equipment.
Its no secret that carrying 2 packs, one on the front and one on the back centers your center of gravity and increases stability, allowing you to walk more upright. However those that have tried know that carrying a second pack on your front can reduce upper body motion and can make a hike very hot.
A multi-pack system that solves those issues finally exists. In 2003 Aarn Tate and Devi Benson, frustrated by the outdoor industry’s “unwillingness to risk adoption of radically different and more efficient carrying systems” created Aarn and introduced the Bodypack.
Aarn is a New Zealand based outdoor company and they have developed Bodypacks with Balance Pockets that attach to the pack straps and waist harness, with the main objective to distribute the weight carried in the packs more evenly.
The idea is very similar to military tactical vests and webbing systems as the British PLCE and US MOLLE combat harness, where loads are distributed evenly around the body as opposed to just the back.
And like their military counterparts Balance Pockets also allow you easy access to personal things without having to take you pack off.
Though Balance Pockets aren’t supposed to touch the body, with so much bulk surrounding the upper body, the next design innovation will probably be how to increase ventilation to keep the core body temperature stable on hot days. Maybe with some new suspension designs placing the pockets further to the sides. And what about increasing pack size by adding/extending the pockets to the waist harness.
Aarn also have an interesting Environmental Policy promoting more than just the Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle, environmental mantra.
1. A focus on building products that last.
2. To offer low cost repair service.
3. To recycle all the materials they use in their business ( I presume they also refer to factory waste such as off-cuts of material).
4. Instead of throwing away your Aarn Bodypacks, return them to Aarn and they will disassemble them to recover and recycle all reusable materials.
5. As biodegradable materials with good performance and durability become available they will be used on Aarn products.
6. They use 100% renewable energy in their office and warehouse.
The Aarn story seems like another impressive show of passion and determination to offer the best innovative product at all costs.
For more information on Aarn outdoor products check out the Aarn website HERE.
I recently came across this unusual pack frame on a Russian Forum.
“Mens sana in corpore sano (A healthy mind in a healthy body)” – Roman poet Juvenal
Probably over 2 million years old and likely the most ancient form of hunting (before the domestication of dogs and the invention of weapons), persistence hunting is/was done without weapons. This was mainly possible because of the unique human physical ability to outrun an animal to exhaustion. Strange as it sounds humans are the best adapted creatures on earth to run long distances in hot conditions. Because unlike most animals our upright bodies aren’t so close to the hot ground, we sweat to cool down, don’t need to drink as frequently as other animals and our breathing is independent from our stride.
But besides endurance running, another important factor contributing to our persistence hunting success was our unique ability for scientific thinking. Humans had to be able to deduce, predict and theorize where the prey might be or run to (more on this in the videos to follow).
Back in the early 1980’s, 22 year old Louis Liebenberg was majoring in Maths and Physics at Cape Town University. There he had begun challenging the traditional view that the human brain could not be the product of natural selection because of it’s appreciation for art and science (which meant that it far exceeded the capacity of all other animals). However Louis had a hunch that scientific thinking was indeed evolutionary and had developed as a necessity for the survival of modern hunter-gatherer societies, especially from the practice of animal tracking in hunting. So on deciding he would rather research his evolutionary intuition than finish his studies, to prove his evolution theory Louis dropped out of college.
Alone, with no background in anthropology, or wilderness experience he moved into the Kalahari desert to find and study the animal tracking of tribal Bushmen (Bushmen are considered to be of the oldest genetic stock on earth with equally old traditions). Incredibly he was able to live with a group of traditional Bushmen for 4 years and eventually was even taken on more than one persistence hunts.
Its fair to say that my personal interest in woven Mexican Huarache footwear extends to everything woven. As far as I know despite all the technological advances in history, woven Huaraches just like woven baskets cannot be made by machine and have to be made by hand. In someways this makes basketry and Huarache weaving one of the highest forms of craft.
For more information on the craft of Mexican Huarache footwear please visit Huarache Blog.
Although basketry is one of the earliest forms of craft in the world, its unclear how long woven Basket Packs have existed for, but many old designs are still used in many countries around the world.
Some old paintings and prints help trace Basket Packs to 1400-1500’s.
The Adirondack Pack Basket as it is known today is traditionally made from woven Black Ash. The Native Americans design was adopted by early settlers in the Northeast USA.
Some good images detailing the construction of an Adirondack Pack Basket.
The Katu from the Vietnamese highlands.
The woven Laotian Kammu pack.
Thai fishing backpack basket.
The Pasiking in the Philippines also doubles up as a rain cape. For more information on this incredible crafted backpack please read a previous post titled Pasiking – A Traditional Ifugao Hunter Backpack. For information on rain capes read “Woven Palm Rain Capes – Sustainable, Handcrafted, Millenary Rain Wear“.
Only a talented craftsperson with many years experience can make a pack like this. Unfortunately because of low demand who knows how long this unique weaving knowledge will survive?
The traditional Sherpa Baskets from Nepal.
Notice how the T-Stick called Tokma is also used to prop up the loaded pack on rest breaks.
The Bakul Tambok from Borneo.
Asian Pack Baskets similar to the Gerla from Italy, which has roman origins where it was called a “Cista Cibaria”.
In the northern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia the Gerla is called zèi (pronounced gei) and it comes with a tripod base structure called a màmul o musse on which to rest the zèi when loading. There was also the Gerla di Testa, or Head Gerla.
In northern Europe the Neverkont from Norway is made from woven birch bark.
Similar in design the Tuohikontti Pack Basket and the Tuohivirsut woven footwear come from Finland.
In Japan Basket Packs also have a long tradition. This one below is made from bamboo.
Notice how the straps are woven like Zori Sandals.
In central Europe woven packs have been traditionally used for Fruit or Mushroom picking. The photo below is of a Mosel vineyard in Germany in the 1940’s. In Germany word used for Pack Basket is Tragekorb.
Woven backpacks can also be purchased online as this Fruit or Mushroom Picking Pack from the USA.
And Hybrid Back Packs for mushroom picking like this one from Italy.
The Loring Pack Basket which is made with synthetic materials so that it won’t rot, mildew, stain, retain odor, or crack.