Posted by Adams Carroll (News Intern) on December 1st, 2009 at 1:27 pm
bamboo bottle holder.
(Photos © Adams Carroll)
After Paul Conte graduated from Syracuse University’s industrial design program, he took an office job — but realized before long that he wasn’t living the life he wanted to lead. So he quit, trained to be a carpenter, and moved to Portland in search of a workshop and a good place to live.
Conte is a welder by day, as well as a talented fabricator and carpenter. When he isn’t working his day job, Conte is putting his skills to use making products for his business, pconte studio, which showcases his sculptures and custom carpentry work as well as a new line of accessories for bikes that includes a unique and sturdy bamboo water bottle cage.
Conte has been producing his water bottle cages for over a year. During that period his design has evolved from an elegant single strip of bamboo to a tougher double strip model that retains the graceful, organic curves of the original version. Conte said that his friends and roommates have been testing his new design and that it stands up to daily cycling and Portland’s wet weather.
“In my products, I try to combine function, aesthetics, and ecology. That’s why I’m drawn to the bike– it embodies all three,” Conte said in a recent interview. His products artfully feature renewable and recycled materials, but ultimately are designed to for utility.
The idea for a handsome, sturdy front rack came from personal necessity. Conte said that last August he needed a rack that was light and strong, but that he wanted it to look good too – “when you live with your bike everyday, you want it to look nice.” Now he has perfected his design, offering an attractive cedar slatted rack and a lighter, all-steel version. Both are built tough as nails, Conte said. “It’s super burly. I could stand on it. I’ll bend my fork before I bend this rack.”
Conte said that he strives to create complete products that will work on any bike without modification. Although he has the ability to do high-end custom work, he wants his creations to be accessible to anybody.
For the future, Conte is perfecting his designs for a rear rack and a lightweight basket, but he isn’t sure if he will have any of these new products ready for release at BikeCraft. His design process, an evolving experimentation with materials combined with comprehensive testing by his friends and housemates, takes time.
This will be Conte’s first time exhibiting at BikeCraft. He said that he is excited for an opportunity to get out of his shop and connect with the bike community, and that he’s expecting an overall positive experience, “a party that celebrates the culture of the bike.”