Ready Two Goby Yuval Saar | 18.11.15
Today, November 15, 2015, the Cycle Revolution Exhibition opens to the public in London Design Museum. Among the many surprising projects featured in this innovative exhibition is Yael Avni’s “Two Go”: a carrying box that can turn into an optimized bicycle seat.
The project started out as an exercise Anvi was given as a student in the Industrial Design Department at the Holon Institute of Technology. The students were instructed to design a DIY product, something fairly simple to create, that would be based on products and raw materials accessible to anyone (and not just design students), something anyone could build for themselves with the help of a basic construction manual.
“I always prefer to create functional products that provide a response to an actual human necessity,” says Avni. “The solution I was trying to provide is one for a problem I encountered more than once: the need to give another adult a lift on a bicycle. In the research process, I checked with other bicyclers whether they had encountered this issue too and found out that a lot of people solve this problem with varied, improvised solutions: they place a little pillow or make their own padding and connect it to the bicycle’s saddle.“
Avni’s first challenge was to find an accessible material that could be used as an alternative bicycle seat. “I searched for a material that would be durable to the elements (sun, rain, stray cats that like to hop on parked bicycles and nap on them), accessible (that people could find or purchase in their nearest environment), and the most important feature was that it wouldn’t be ostentatious (so that the seat wouldn’t get stolen).
“I walked around Tel Aviv plenty, spoke to urban bicyclers and mainly looked at the bicycles around me, and finally I had my moment of Eureka when I realized that I had to use Tnoova boxes [leading Israeli dairy manufacturer]: they’re durable, accessible and they wouldn’t be complete strangers to the bicycle’s saddle.”
Her second challenge was to find a way in which she could turn the boxes into a bicycle seat. She tried out different cutting and connecting manners that would fit the box’s contours and would also take proper advantage of its structural strength. After she found the suitable cutting manner for the seat, she had looked for different ways in which she could connect the parts that would enable the transformation of the seat back into a box in case needed.
Her last and final challenge was to find the simplest manufacturing and work processes that would not necessitate high-tech technical skills and would enable the vast majority of people to make one for themselves. In the process she used accessible tenons (connectors) and located user-friendly work tools. “After all that, I still had to create communicative construction guidelines, because the project’s whole purpose was to create something that anyone could make for themselves if they wished to.”
Avni, who graduated from the Industrial Design Department of the Holon Institute of Technology in 2009, teaches there today, while simultaneously studying for her M.A. in social-medical Industrial Design at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology. There she is also working on a new initiative merging design and technology and intended for the use of individuals with special needs. In 2013 Anvi launched באהלבית (in direct translation from Hebrew: coming home, also a wordplay on landlord and services delivered to the home), a small business through which she provides handy(wo)man services: “Beyond hanging curtains and shelves and constructing Ikea furniture for people, I actually get to design and build furniture and plan specific solutions for interior design issues people get stuck with,” she enthuses.
The Cycle Revolution exhibition is only one stop in a long list of places where Avni’s project is being presented worldwide. After finishing her studies, she published the project in its earlier version on instructables, a huge online stockpile of DIY projects that is home to construction manuals for everything under the sun: from bracelets to lawn mowers. “I got tons of enthusiastic reactions. Some were a little reserved about giving a lift to an adult on a bicycle; apparently in Toronto it isn’t legal whereas in Columbia it’s practically a trend, but overall the reactions were very positive.”
In 2010, after making some changes to the final product, Avni sent her project to the Seoul Cycle Design Competition (the project made it to the finals but didn’t win), and in 2013 it was featured in the book Velo—2nd Gear, which was published by the German publication Gestalten Books and gave a thorough review of the bicycle culture and the innovations in the field.
“During my studies I actually began to understand that Industrial Design was one of the professions that harm the environment the most, “ she admits. “As product designers, we’re just too busy coming up with products that the world mostly doesn’t need and got along without just fine, and that is not an easy conclusion to arrive at when you’re in the middle of your studies. It created a big dissonance between my love for creation and work and between the fact that this profession simple creates tons of junk.
I wanted to deal in design that was actually valuable to the environment or to society. And that’s when I really began to feel comfortable with my approach to design. This project, Two Go, truly helped strengthen my understanding that there are lots of ways to continue to create and still have a sense of ownership and responsibility for what happens to our environment. What started out as an exercise in a class at university very quickly became my way of life.”
Translation from Hebrew: Joy Bernard