When industrial designer Jon Winebrenner launched an ambitious Kickstarter campaign from his Gastown design studio last month, his intentions were two-fold. Firstly, he wanted to mass produce a small, inexpensive product – which he decided to call the CLUG – that directly addressed a bike storage problem they were having in their own office. Secondly, he wanted to dispel the myth that quality product design and manufacturing is something that doesn’t happen in Vancouver.
In a city where floor space is at a premium, and the demand for secure bicycle parking far exceeds the supply, the CLUG provides an elegantly simple solution. It is a discreet, two-piece, 3D-printed clip (in a variety of colour schemes) that attaches to a vertical surface – usually a wall – via a pair of screws or a 3M command strip. It then snugly holds the front or rear tire of your bicycle, securing it horizontally or vertically (on or above the ground), without cluttering the room or risking damage to the walls.
To raise the funds needed to purchase the materials for an initial production run, Winebrenner and his colleagues at Hurdler Studios turned to Kickstarter. They put together a sleek campaign using their graphic design and filmmaking skills, set an initial goal of $32,000, and then watched in awe as their idea went viral. Amazingly, it was picked up by Cool Hunting, Gizmodo, Inhabitat, and Fast Company, and the backers came in droves from around the world, including Asia, Europe, and South America.
With over three weeks remaining in the campaign, they have successfully passed their fundraising goal, but it still isn’t too late to get in on the action. Depending on the contribution level you choose, you can get your hands on a single CLUG for as little as $5.50 (when purchased as a set of 10), which will ship in September. And any pledge of $5 or more will get you the CLUG Digital .stl file, so if you’re lucky enough to own a 3D printer, you can make your own CLUGs again, and again, and again… Starting today.
However, there is one important thing to keep in mind before ordering dozens for you and your friends: The first version of CLUG available through Kickstarter only fits standard road bike tires (between 23 and 28mm). Hurdler have designed and developed two other versions of CLUG for mountain bike tires (1.75-2.5″) and hybrid tires (between 32 and 47mm), and are making them available as stretch goals if they are successfully funded (the former at $50,000, and the latter at $75,000).
If everything goes to plan, Winebrenner sees CLUG – and the many other products his studio is developing – becoming pieces of a much bigger picture. A picture where our city’s potential for creativity and innovation is equal to that of Seattle, San Francisco, and New York. And for him, it began with an idea that made his own life a little easier, and could soon do the same for tens – if not hundreds of thousands of people around the world. That’s the power of good design, and it’s not nearly as easy as it looks.
Chris Bruntlett is a Residential Designer and father of two, living the (car-free) East Van dream. Outside of the office, he diligently documents the rise of mainstream bicycle culture via words, photographs, and film. He cherishes the ability to live and work in a dense, vibrant, sustainable city, and contribute to that vision on a daily basis. You can find Chris on Twitter: @cbruntlett