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Industrial Design Studio Fig40 Designed a New Kind of Bike Seat

In collaboration with local bicycle manufacturer Mariposa, Fig40 has created a three-legged stool that perfectly captures their own design philosophy

By Gregory Furgala
Photography by Walter Lai

A conversation with Klaus Nienkämper Sr. helped Lee Fletcher, an industrial designer and co-founder of Fig40, to clarify his approach to design. The long-time furniture manufacturer told Fletcher that he didn’t like the Aeron chair, a lauded classic. Its hard edges knocked against tables – occasionally those from Nienkämper’s own collection – causing dents and damage.

Fletcher’s takeaway from this conversation with the manufacturing great: design needs to be neighbourly; things must interact well with other things. Add to that approachability and elementality (or “engagingness” and material composition) and you’ve got Fig40’s philosophy – three pillars, like a simple stool. Terence Woodside, Fletcher’s partner in Fig40, agrees, but articulates it with an engineer’s brevity: “Everything can be better.”

“Everything,” in this case, is not just the end product, but the process as well. Fig40’s recent collaboration with Mariposa, a local maker of bespoke bicycles, is a case in point. Bike sales slow during the winter, leaving unused steel tubing and lugs – the steel joints that connect that tubing into a frame – to pile up. A casual conversation between Mariposa and Fig40 evolved into a working concept: furniture built with the tooling, parts and techniques used in bicycle manufacturing.

The end result is a three-legged counter stool that encapsulates Fig40’s three-pronged design philosophy. Bicycle head tubes were adapted to support a footrest, while a new lug was fabricated to support the wooden seat. The typology’s neighbourliness is proven – Nienkämper’s tables are safe – and it’s an efficient composition of avail- able materials. Plus, thanks to Mariposa’s trademark colourways, it’s gorgeous. Three pillars in tandem support the whole. Or, put simply, Fig40 just made a better stool. FIG40.COM; MARIPOSABICYLES.CA

Originally published in our 2020 Reno Issue as “Philosophy, Designed”.


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