In a wonderfully quirky project he's named 'Velocipedia', young Italian designer Gianluca Gimini has been asking people to draw a men's racing bike and then he's done his best to interpret some of these sketches in a 3D model. For example:
While it might be jolly good fun for designers to snigger at the drawing illiteracy of 'normal people', it actually provides an interesting insight into how our brains interpret familiar objects. Anyone on our planet can instantly recognise a bike. Yet what surprised Gianluca was that the majority of people were then unable to recreate that at all accurately on paper.
On the one hand this gives us designers some bragging rights - "look how clever we are at drawing bikes from our heads woop woop!". Here's my attempt - (bit rushed and full of errors, but at least technically a gents racing bike!):
This skill might make us designers annoyingly good at Pictionary... but in all seriousness, I believe that good drawings skills, being able to interpret and clearly communicate ideas visually, is an undervalued business tool alongside all the plans and spreadsheets. And these bike drawings show it's harder to do than most people realise.
But on the other hand, more importantly, it gives us an insight into the amazing potential within everyone to create 'new', through misinterpretation and error. Mutation is one of the fundamental aspects of natural selection that has created such gloriously rich diversity in nature.
In the risk-averse commercial world, vast design effort often just results in highly sophisticated, but near identical products. The modern fossil fuel powered car, or the polystyrene bicycle helmet are classic examples of highly optimised branches of a tree that may soon be overtaken by unpredictable revolutionary new solutions (we hope).
So we should all check out the resulting Velocipedia Collection of crazy bike drawings and CAD models interpretations, because these should remind us that if we allow ourselves the right space to dream and doodle, to make mistakes and misinterpret things, we can all work together to challenge the status quo and create "new things".
In Gianluca's own words:
"I collected hundreds of drawings, building up a collection that I think is very precious. There is an incredible diversity of new typologies emerging from these crowd-sourced and technically error-driven drawings. A single designer could not invent so many new bike designs in 100 lifetimes and this is why I look at this collection in such awe."