For weeks, guests staying at the W London, Leicester Square have had a special treat: The opportunity to ride one-of-a-kind bicycles created by designer Ron Arad, singer Paloma Faith, fashion designer Alice Temperley, illustrator Natasha Law and footwear designer Patrick Cox. But now the six unique bikes are off the London streets and on the auction blocks. Until December first, World AIDS Day, bids for the "Wow Bikes Auction" are being accepted through that W hotel's Facebook page, with the proceeds benefitting the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Each of the six bikes is inspired, but Ron Arad's in particular is eye-catching. Arad, known for his flowing, curvy architectural and product design work with steel, looked past traditional tires and literally sought to reinvent the wheel. Colleague Marcus Hirst told Discovery News about the speedy creative process: "The wheel design was the result of a very quick discussion with Ron during which he literally made a quick two-minute sketch in red pen."
The goal was to convey a sense of Arad's classic design, the Well Tempered Chair. Each of the two resulting wheels is comprised of 18 strips of sprung steel, pinned at various tension points, ultimately forming what looks like a Spirograph visual.
What's unexpected is, despite the inherent bumps and lack of rubber, it provides a "surprisingly soft and smooth ride. The wheel affords excellent structural integrity and has just the right amount of yield." What's even more impressive is that Hirst was able to keep the metallic two-wheeler upright on a concrete floor and under control amidst busy London traffic. In the end, this first attempt is a stylish yet dynamic and functional piece of art. Hirst remarked, "Subsequent versions will be a refinement of the design and as such will be smoother to ride and have better traction."
Credit: The Elton John AIDS Foundation