Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 3rd, 2011 at 7:00 pm
Challenge winner Tony Pereira and
event organizer Shannon Holt at
the launch party tonight.
(Photo © J. Maus)
The 2011 Oregon Manifest Design Challenge is shaping up to be a potential game-changer in the bicycle world. Oregon Manifest is a non-profit organization that “exists to celebrate and amplify bike craft, design and innovation.” Launched in 2008, the organization — and the event — have matured considerably since their last event in 2009. What began with a bike show, roller races, and some great parties in 2008, morphed into a celebration of bike advocacy, art, bikes and more in 2009. After a year hiatus, Oregon Manifest seems to have finally found its focus — the exciting meld between industrial design and bicycle craftsmanship.
As we shared back in November, this year’s event takes things up a notch by partnering with design firms and non-endemic (not bike-related) media outlets as well as design teams from major universities.
Tonight at Lizard Lounge in Northwest Portland, Manifest organizers made the big reveal on a number of details they’ve been keeping under wraps. Among the announcements are the design criteria (the goal is for designers to team with builders to create the ultimate utility bike), the title sponsor, the judges, the student teams, and more.
The big news — and in keeping with the sense that this event has really grown up in the past few years — is that the title sponsor is Levi’s®. Yes Levi’s® (I’m afraid I’ll get in trouble if I don’t include that “registered” symbol).
In a statement about the partnership, a senior Levi’s® marketing exec said,
“The Levi’s® brand has long outfitted the pioneers, workers and craftsmen that built America. This tradition, and our ongoing commitment to timeless design and modern innovation, connects us to the bike builders in this competition. We are excited to support Oregon Manifest, along with the larger community of like-minded cyclists and constructors, and we look forward to collaborating over the next eight months.”
Getting major mainstream (non-bike) brands like Levi’s® engaged with bicycling at this level is a very good thing.
A new component to the competition this year is what event organizers have dubbed, Creative Collaborations. Three global design firms will be teamed with custom bike builders to “push the boundaries of what a modern utility bike can be.” The firms and builders are,
- IDEO (Palo Alto, CA) and Rock Lobster Custom Bicycles (Santa Cruz, CA)
- fuseproject (San Francisco, CA) and Sycip Bikes (Santa Rosa, CA)
- Ziba Design (Portland) and Signal Cycles (Portland)
The progress of these collaborations will be chronicled online each month by the Manifest’s media partner, industrial design site, Core77.
The other component of the competition is the return of the Constructor’s Design Challenge. This contest will pit up to 35 custom bike builders from around the country against each other and against the design criteria put forth by Oregon Manifest, “in pursuit of the ultimate modern utility bike that addresses the needs of the everyday rider in an innovative, highly considered way.” Here’s the summary of the criteria unveiled tonight:
“Participants in the Constructor’s Design Challenge will be faced with building a bike that is flexible, durable, able to carry reasonable loads with ease, and ready to accommodate the many small and large challenges of everyday riding. Transportation bikes must be sturdy and durable, yet nimble enough to provide all-around utility during a short trip or a longer haul.”
Five student teams will also participate in this year’s Manifest. So far, teams from the Art Institute of Portland’s Industrial Design Program, California College of the Arts, Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Applied Craft and Design MFA program, and University of Oregon’s Industrial Design program are set to take part.
The designs dreamed up by all these talented people will have their moment of truth on September 24th during the Oregon Manifest Field Test. This will be a trial that puts each bike through the ringer of a course that will include hills, highways, off-road sections, and other surprises. Judges will be stationed throughout the course to evaluate specific features of each bike. The overall winner will have the most points based on a combination of these feature tests and time taken to complete the route.
The public will be able to view all the Design Challenge entries the night before they get dirty and hammered on at the Field Test at a viewing party that will take place at Pacific Northwest College of Art on September 23rd from 7:00—10:00pm.
Another big announcement made tonight was the panel of judges who will ultimately choose the event’s big winners. And the judges are…
- Tinker Hatfield, vice president of Innovation Design and special projects at Nike (you might recall Mr. Hatfield’s custom Surly Pugsley we featured back in 2006)
- Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach and PUBLIC Bikes
- Joe Breeze, member of Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and founder of Breezer Bicycles
- Bill Strickland, editor of Bicycling Magazine
- Ron Sutphin, president of United Bicycle Institute (judging panel moderator)
At the end of it all, the Oregon Manifest will host a big Awards Gala at the headquarters of Chris King Precision Components.
This is going to be great. Stay tuned for full coverage and photos of all the amazing people and bikes. Learn more at OregonManifest.com.