Luna Seo

Prisms reflect “That Piece of Time” in a young designer’s new collection
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Seoul-born designer Luna Seo integrates prisms into her new collection, “That Piece of Time”, capitalizing on both the symbolism and unique refractive qualities of the prism as a metaphorical reminder of small daily wonders. “The prism is a medium that represents pieces of time,” says Seo. “It unveils pieces of time through the meetings between light and light-refracting materials. The idea is that these objects grasp time from the sunlight and shed unexpected, unrepeatable moments.”

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A recent graduate from the Konstfack in Stockholm, Seo’s collection premiered at the Konstfack Degree Show and will show again at Tent London during the London Design Festival this September. The collection includes a vase and a coffee table, both items showcasing Seo’s desire to awaken a sense of surprise and a renewed appreciation for nature in her viewer.

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The coffee table is made from solid walnut and is comprised of two levels separated by a glass prism. The prism refracts light onto the floor below and also reveals the graphic hidden beneath the table depending on the viewer’s vantage point. Similar to the table, Seo’s vase is comprised of a prism suspended from a stainless steel rod and granite base.”As expected, the role of the vase is ultimately to hold flowers,” explains Seo. “This vase also creates its own blossoms in time with the collaboration of the sun. It shows what is embedded inside daylight and reveals its beauty.”

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For more information regarding pricing and availability, check out Seo’s website.

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Tom Gilmour Illustration

Hand-drawn artwork inspired by traditional tattoos and macabre iconography

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Creating work dominated by occult imagery, nomadic themes and heavy linework, London-based illustrator Tom Gilmour says he finds inspiration in “black tattoo art and early 80’s skateboard graphics” to achieve a powerful aesthetic akin to something of a morbid blend of Gus Wagner and Jim Phillips. Gilmour draws each piece by hand in ink with splashes of watercolor and digital renderings to achieve certain shading effects.

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While the deep gradients and heavy iconography of traditional tattoos are still very much present, Gilmour’s intricate designs tend to lean towards the experimentation of mixed symbolism for a unique depth not often seen in the flash-style tattoos from which he draws inspiration. By designing for paper rather than skin, Gilmour is free to draw without regard to certain contours or the stylistic limits of a tattoo gun, resulting in intricate detail and an unconventional use of space. The full-bleed design style, enhanced by the use of freehand script, helps much of Gilmour’s work make the leap from tattoo sketch to fine art.

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Working as an illustrator by profession, Gilmour often lends his artistic abilities to various like-minded enterprises outside of his own sketchbook. Included in the impressive list of music-centric commissions is album cover art for metal band Lay Siege, T-shirt design for Cold Night For Alligators and promotional posters for international music festivals Sonisphere and Download. Gilmour takes such commercial assignments as opportunities to showcase his talents without sacrificing any style or artistic vision.

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For a closer look at Gilmour’s illustrations see his personal site and design collective. To see more recent works and for the chance to purchase one-off prints see Gilmour’s often-updated blog and check out Wood & Cloud Publishing Co.

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Draw Coffee

Ben Blake’s growing collection of filter doodles celebrate the coffee community

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Taking his belief that “coffee inspires creativity” to a literal level, Ben Blake documents his coffee journey in a series of doodles and sketches on filters, sharing his clever graphic narratives with a growing number of fans on his site, Draw Coffee. He considers all requests for java-related images, and his drawings span visual narratives about coffee companies, events, brewing methods and more. Blake even gamely incorporated CH dog-duo Otis and Logan into a recent set of filters.

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Coffee drinkers are joined by the industry in taking notice of Blake’s art, with recent collaborations including a shell for a ZPM Espresso machine, and a line of mugs and apparel for Kuma Coffee in Seattle.

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We asked Blake—who by day works in development for a liberal arts university—to share his thoughts about making, drawing and drinking joe.

When did you start drawing? Do you remember the moment when you realized that you love to draw?

I’ve been drawing ever since my Mom and Grandma told me to use my imagination. I started drawing famous cartoon characters from books such as Where’s Waldo, Dr. Seuss, and Calvin and Hobbes—over the years, drawing has really followed me. I remember all throughout high school and college using drawing as a way to pay attention in class. I don’t know that there is any particular moment where I realized I loved drawing—I think at some point I realized that I could sit down and draw for hours, wake up the next day, and still have an urge to put something on paper. There aren’t many things that drive me like drawing does.

What was your first coffee-related doodle? Why did you draw it?

At some point in college, I started to love coffee—not because it helped me stay awake, but because I recognized there was something special about it. As I started to learn more about coffee, I started to think about it a lot more. That’s when it started making its way into my doodles. I don’t always do coffee-themed doodles, but nearly 100% of the time, a coffee cup makes its way into the doodle somewhere. It’s kind of my not-so-sneaky tribute to coffee.

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Why did you decide to draw so many of your sketches and doodles on coffee filters?

I think it was a natural extension of what I wanted to do with Draw Coffee. I wanted to present something unique that wasn’t being done— actually, the more I think about it, its kind of a stereotypical and cheesy thing for me to have done. I think the Hario filters have a nice, symmetrical shape, and the borders give the drawing some sort of finality.

When did you start Draw Coffee? What was your inspiration for starting the site?

Back in November, I discovered the website Dear Coffee, I Love You. I think the thing that brought me there was the “Coffee Lover Gift Guide” post—it made me realize how many coffee gadgets I wanted. After browsing the site a bit, I was inspired to learn even more about coffee. Two things happened right after that—first, I won a high-quality grinder from Baratza, which helped kickstart my journey to learn about coffee and how to make wonderful coffee at home. Second, La Marzocco USA started a Facebook challenge where they asked fans to post a picture of their brew method and brewing recipe each day. I participated, but I started to realize that my pictures looked the same as everyone else’s pictures. I didn’t like that, so I started to doodle mine instead. I wanted to keep track and share what I was learning, so I decided to start a year-long project where I would learn as much about coffee as I could, and doodle about it.

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Why do you like coffee and the coffee community so much?

I have experienced a community full of passionate and creative individuals who love coffee. I’ve been welcomed with open arms by so many people—the drawing thing helped, obviously, but people are so willing to teach and share about coffee. It’s exciting, and I think it’s contagious.

One thing that seems to set the coffee industry apart from other industries is its collaborative nature. I think most wise, knowledgeable people in the specialty coffee industry recognize that there is no current definition of “best”. That’s important, I think, because rather than investing time into battering the competition and living on an island, folks are investing time in bettering the industry—working together on maintaining best and sustainable practices.

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Where is the next coffee place you will be visiting?

Well, I’m fresh off trips to Portland, Seattle, and Chicago, but my cousin and I have a coffee-touring trip planned for either Chicago or New York in the near future. Beyond that, I know I’ll be in Kansas City, up and down the East Coast, and possibly down to Atlanta to see Jason Dominy of Batdorf & Bronson before my wife and I move to Bologna, Italy.

After all of this focus on the coffee world, have your coffee-making skills improved?

The more I learn about coffee, the better the coffee I make at home tastes, and the more I realize how complex and intricate coffee can be. What used to be a dull, bitter, muddy liquid has now become this bright, sweet, fruity, and complex drink that I look forward to hand-brewing a few times a day. It’s pretty common for people—mostly me— to describe coffee as “the nectar of the gods”.

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What’s next for Draw Coffee?

I think as long as I keep learning and experiencing new things related to coffee, I’m going to keep drawing on my filters, but I’ve been also been doing a lot of projects with roasters, companies, and other websites. Through those commissioned projects, I’ve started to weigh taking design classes to learn typography, graphic design, etc. I would love to continue evolving my drawing styles, and hopefully expand them into other industries and ride that into even more collaborations. It’s been a fun ride the last six months, and I’m trying to let this grow organically to see where it takes me. Hopefully people will continue to find value or inspiration in my doodles, and hopefully they’ll want to learn more about coffee, too.

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Guy Laramée

Our interview with the artist about sand-blasted books, ethereal paintings and a transcendental point of view

Examining evolution through the dual lens of spirituality and science, Montreal-based book sculptor Guy Laramée creates miniature landscapes from antiquated paperbacks. Drawing upon over three decades of experience as an interdisciplinary artist (including a start as a music composer) and an education in anthropology, Laramée carves out an existentialist parallel between the erosion of geography and the ephemeral nature of the printed word.

Laramée also evokes notes of nostalgia and the passing of time with his paintings of clouds and fog. A self-professed anachronist, Laramée takes inspirational cues from the age of Romanticism and the transcendentalism of Zen, exploring “not only what we think, but that we think.” Laramée’s distinct, conceptual medium and thematic study of change has involved him in such contemplative projects as the “Otherworldly” exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design and an impromptu collaboration with WIRED UK.

We caught up with Laramée during his recent exhibition, “Attacher les roches aux nuages” or “Tying Rocks to Clouds”, at Expression: Centre d’exposition de Saint-Hyacinte in Quebec, to learn more about his process and philosophy.

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What inspired the ideas for your book sculptures and what is the process that is involved in creating them?

The bookwork came in the alignment of three things: a casual discovery, my undertaking of an MA in anthropology and the building of La Grande Bibliothèque du Québec. The undertaking of this grand library fascinated me because at that time (2000) I thought that the myth of the encyclopedia—having all of humanity’s knowledge at the same place—was long dead. I was, myself, going back to school to make sense of 15 years of professional practice and was, once more, confronted with my love/hate relationship with words. Then came this accident, so to speak. I was working in a metal shop, having received a commission for a theater set. In a corner of the shop was a sandblaster cabinet. Suddenly, I had the stupid idea of putting a book in there. And that was it. Within seconds, the whole project unfolded.

Please tell us a bit about your collaboration with Wired UK and creation of the Black Tides project.

Tom Cheshire, one of the associate editors of WIRED, wrote me one day, saying that he loved my work and inquiring about my future projects. Off the top of my head and half jokingly, I told him that I had the idea of doing a piece with a pile of their magazines (that was not true). He picked up on the idea and suddenly, a pile of magazines was being shipped to my studio. I had had a lot of offers for commissions—all involving my work with books—and I refused them all because they all made me so sad. People were trying to use my work to fit their agendas but the collaboration with WIRED truly inspired me because it fit perfectly with a project I had on my bench for a while, and for which I had found no outlet. The Great Black Tides project is the continuation of The Great Wall project. It gives flesh to a short story written in the mode of an archeology of the future.

The first piece that came out of this project is WIRELAND. It is both ironic and beyond irony. It is ironic that a high-tech magazine would include such a low-tech work in their pages—and foremost a type of work that looks so critically at the ideologies of progress. And it is beyond irony even, because the piece is beautiful. It is beautiful for mysterious reasons but I like to think that the way Tom Cheshire trusted me was a big factor in the success of the enterprise. So if there is a message in all this, I would like to think that it is this: never stop relating to people who defend worldviews, which seem to contradict yours. There is a common factor beyond all points of view.

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In addition to your sculptures, you also paint. Please tell us a bit about your painting process and what inspires your fog series.

The 19th century painter and emblematic figure of Romanticism, Caspar David Friedrich, said, “The eye and fantasy feel more attracted by nebulous distance than by that which is close and distinct in front of us.” That sums it up all very nicely. What is blurred and foggy attracts your eye because you want to know what is behind that veil. It is a dynamic prop to set you in motion.

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Your work frequently explores themes of the ephemeral, surreal and nostalgic. What draws you to these themes and influences them?

The Great Nostalgia is my main resource. It is not nostalgia about a lost golden age (which never existed). It is the nostalgia, here and now, of the missing half. We live between two contradictory and simultaneous worldviews: the participant and the observer. I work along the thesis that all of humanity’s joy and sorrow come out of this basic schism, something most of the great religions (Buddhism, Sufism, etc.) evoke abundantly.

My work is existential. It may depict landscapes that inspire serenity, but this is the serenity that you arrive at after traversing life crisis. You can paint a flower as a hobby, but you can also paint a flower as you come back from war. The same flower, apparently, but not really the same.

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Could you please share your thoughts on the theme of the Guan Yin project and how it manifested in the exhibited pieces?

Originally the project was a commission for a local biennale here in Quebec, an event that celebrates linen. The theme of that biennale was “Touch”. I started with used rags, the ones that are used by mechanics and that are called “wipers”. I started by sowing them together without really knowing what I was doing. I was attracted to the different shades of these rags. They are all of a different grey, due to the numerous exposures to grease and the subsequent washings but meanwhile, my mother died. I was with her when she gave her last breath. Needless to say, that gave the project a totally different color.

So, I decided that this project would help me pass through the mourning of this loss. I decided against all reason—you don’t do that in contemporary art— that I would carve a statue of Guan Yin, the Chinese name for the Bodhisattva of compassion in Buddhist lore. It took me four months. I had never carved a statue in wood. Finally, the statue came out of a syncretic version of the original. It is still faithful to one of the avatars of these icons but there is a bit of the Virgin Mary in there. Then, I built an altar over the statue and put the altar on this 16×16 feet tablecloth made of 500 used rags. The piece was first shown in an historic Catholic church which was almost a statement about the possibility of an inter-faith dialogue—even if that was far from my concern at the time when I put it up there. To me, these rags, with the hands of these women over them, became the metaphor of our human condition. As a Japanese proverb says, “The best words are the ones you did not say.”

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“Attacher les roches aux nuages” will run through 12 August 2012 at the Centre d’exposition de Saint-Hyacinte.

Centre d’exposition de Saint-Hyacinte

495, Avenue Saint-Simon

Saint-Hyacinthe (Quebec), J2S 5C3

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Boneshaker Magazine

Bicycle culture with an emphasis on “culture”

by Rich Cunningham

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Comprised of 64 ad-free pages, Boneshaker Magazine presents itself as the perfectly formed remedy to the anesthesia of a glossy bicycle magazine. Set upon uncoated challenger offset paper Boneshaker has an unrivaled visual and tactile quality that is noticeable even before opening it. Plus, Boneshaker’s collection of articles, stories and anecdotes about people, projects and bicycles makes for a riveting cover-to-cover read.

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Issue 9 is due for publication and contains a host of exciting features such as Bike Move; a home moving van on two wheels and La Ciclovia; a regular tour weaving through the car-filled streets of Bogota, Columbia.

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The latest edition also showcases the weird and wonderful creations of Disraeli Gears and features Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in what the editorial team hopes to be an inspirational issue. James Lucas of Boneshaker states that “Many of the projects have a real ‘go ahead and do-it-yourself’ feel and we hope the magazine inspires you to do the same.”

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Four-issue subscriptions to Boneshaker Magazine are available from Fingerprint Distribution for £20.

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Metaproject 02

Josh Owen and the Corning Museum of Glass challenge RIT students to explore the creative limits of glass

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While knowledge is commonly attributed to experience, fresh ideas often come from fresh minds. Taking this perspective to heart, veteran designer and educator Josh Owen developed Metaproject, an experimental industrial design course at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Now in its second year, the course is partnered with the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) to challenge students to think in new ways about glass as a creative material. As Metaproject 02 came to a close, the course recently culminated with a showing of select works during this year’s NYC Design Week.

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“Glass is already playing a vital role in the future of industrial design as many ‘futuristic’ technologies are moving quickly towards mass-production,” said Owen who also noted that besides innovations in architecture and mobile devices he’s interested in the more immediate and rudimentary potential that glass holds. The course offeres a rare chance for his students to hunker down and design for two full terms, giving a glimpse into the professional world by seeing their designs grow iteratively from ideation to production. And by exploring with cast glass and recycled glass, many students showed a shared interest in designing for the future with a more immediate application in mind.

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August Kawski’s “The Receiver” tackles the issue of social disconnectivity by way of technology. Kawski sees the heavyweight cast glass object as creating “a physical, visual and auditory barrier—a return to personal communication by freeing oneself from the responsibilities and burdens of the cell phone.” By referencing the iconic Dreyfus phone as the object’s handle Owen feels it “cements the object’s semiotics, making a completely new typology strangely familiar and therefore more intuitive.” Also one to challenge the idea of objects as mood altering devices, Dan Ipp also went a similar route with the “Illuminated Side Table.” Here the glass tubes diffuse the light to create an ambient mood that welcomes the user to relax.

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For more information on the ever evolving Metaproject check the comprehensive RIT site—and keep an eye on Owen as well. To learn more about what the Corning Museum of Glass is up to in the near future swing by NYC’s Governers Island this summer to visit the GlassLab, CMoG’s glass design workshop and performance center.

Images by Elizabeth Lamark

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The Bike-Owner’s Handbook

A small but mighty companion for two-wheeled maintenance

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While biking vets are likely to know a gear set like the back of their hand, others are probably flummoxed when it comes to simple maintenance issues like a punctured tire or a stretched brake cable. “The Bike-Owner’s Handbook” is a cleverly designed, travel-sized folio that guides bikers through the most common operations they will encounter on the road. Simple illustrations and anatomical breakdowns serve to familiarize the uninitiated in processes like tire replacement, chain tension adjustment and bar tape wrapping.

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Peter Drinkell wrote the book with empathy for the neophyte. While he is a fairly accomplished tinkerer, he notes the “finickiness” of bicycles as something that often perplexes riders. The goal of the pocket companion is not so much to make you a two-wheeled savant as it is to improve the riding experience: “Once you get in tune with your bike, it will change the way you cycle. You’ll be able to treat it with kindness—checking tire pressure, brakes and chain regularly, keeping it running smoothly, and rewarding you with a much more enjoyable ride. You might also find yourself noting your environment a little more closely—keeping an eye out for glass or grit on the roads, carefully avoiding potholes and rocky surfaces.”

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Drinkell’s recommendations expose the essential tools of a bike owner, ensuring that readers will have a patch and sandpaper on hand the next time they run a flat. The book also saves valuable time, replacing trips to the repair shop with do-it-yourself chain lubrication and brake pad replacement. Drinkell’s simple advice and the book’s straightforward layout make this a real boon as dusty wheels come out of winter storage.

The Bike-Owner’s Handbook is available from Cicada and on Amazon. See more images of the book in our slideshow.

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SCALE at Noho Design District

A Cool Hunting, Architizer and Dwell collaboration celebrating the newest in architectural design
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For this year’s Noho Design District, part of New York’s Design Week, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Architizer and Dwell to present SCALE, a collection of objects and prototypes that explore the relationship of furniture and architecture.

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Architects have been known to use furniture as a prototyping method for their creations and with this as our starting point we’ve collected works from architects and designers—some at the top of their game, others just starting out—including Snarkitecture, Bec Brittain, Katie Stout, Seth Keller, Studio DROR, Kiel Mead, Thaddeus Wolfe and more. From Jason Payne’s “Disco Ball” for Hirsuta to the process-driven “Sprue” candelabras by Fort Standard, we think the final collection captures some of the most interesting intersections of architecture and design today.

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SCALE
Friday 18 – Sunday 21 May 2012
12 Noon to 7:00 p.m. daily
The Standard East Village

And don’t forget to stop by the accompanying Sonos Listening Library while you’re there.

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HHI Day Pack

Hammarhead Industries’ heavy duty backpack meant for motorcycle commuting

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Known best for their beautifully bad ass repurposed motorcycles, Philadelphia’s Hammarhead Industries recently unveiled their newest custom creation—the HHI Day Pack. The easy to open roll top bag finds its inspiration in everyday use, designed as a “minimal bag suitable for riding and capable of holding the tools of modern life.” Brooklyn’s d’emploi constructs each bag entirely with American made materials, making this paired down pack your perfect no-frills bag able to take a beating and only get better with wear.

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When a client asked for an all purpose bag that’d match the rugged aesthetic of his custom Jack Pine motorcycle, Hammarhead’s designers realized they couldn’t recommend one, so they made it instead. After dissecting over 30 old military bags to see how different materials held up over time with little to no upkeep, they decided on a 15 oz Martexin waxed cotton canvas shell partially wrapped in salvaged leather from a NYC bootmaker for support and protection. For hardware they chose an unbreakable buckle originally made to hold a parachute and nylon webbing from a racing harness manufacturer in the Midwest.

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When worn the waterproof bag sits perfectly into the small of your back for a comfortable riding position no matter how heavy the load, and the nylon straps are impressively easy to adjust with a quick pull. Inside the bag you’ll find a large main compartment the exact size of a full bag of groceries—or a 24 pack—and three padded pouches ideal of a laptop, iPad or notebook.

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While this beast was specifically built to withstand the abuse of motorcycle commuting while avoiding the over designed look of most messenger bags, it actually works quite well as a bicycle bag as well. The lower leather side pouches are the perfect size for a medium sized u-lock and are conveniently placed in the right position for accessing miscellaneous things like lights, keys or even a water bottle. The HHI Day Pack is available now directly from Hammarhead Industries for $290.

Images by Graham Hiemstra

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Busyman Bicycles

Hand crafted leather saddles from a fashion design professor turned bespoke upholsterer
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Known to the cycling community as one of the premier bespoke bicycle upholsterers around, Australia’s Busyman Bicycles shines through custom craftsmanship in an industry salivating for specialized components. As the brains and braun behind the one man operation, Mick Peel turns regular old saddles into custom masterpieces by hand upholstering with traditional tools and a level of knowhow only earned through years of tinkering. His precise, and often intricate designs extend from classic perforations to perfectly mainicured letters and logos.

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With a BA and MA in fashion desgin, nearly twenty years of lecturing on the subject and a sizable stint as head of the fashion design program at Melbourne’s RMIT University, Peel’s experience with elaborate pattern making and knowledge of functional design made for the perfect pathway into the world of custom saddle making. And as if his educational experience weren’t enough, Peel also did a fair amount of graphic design for Adidas Australia in the 1990s and has dabbled in furniture design here and there as well.

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Regardless of the discipline at hand, Peel feels his knack for design comes from simply doing. “I do design by making. My knowledge of materials and techniques and the memory accumulated in my hands through crafting have become very much my tools and method of designing. In my practice designing and making are not separate things.”

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As one would imagine working with a wide range of saddle designs means finding just the right materials to get the job done. As Peel points out, each leather has it’s own different characteristics and properties. Sheep is extremely soft and easily stretched but can be quite fragile, whereas cow leather is generally more balanced in terms of mold-ability, strength and durability. “My favourite material is definitely vegetable tanned, full grain kangaroo skin. It moulds more easily than cow skin and performs much better in both tensile strength and abrasion resistance. I will always choose kangaroo if it meets the specifications of the job at hand.”

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While the expertly crafted saddles are Peel’s specialty, he also dabbles in crafting custom handlebar tape and other specialized bicycle components. For a closer look at Peel’s handy work see the slideshow below and keep an eye on the often updated Busyman Bicycles blog.

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