We think and write a lot about all of the cool things that happen at the intersection of bikes and design. We’re especially drawn to the stories of people who are inspired to create simple, beautiful solutions to persistent problems. And while we’ve seen a lot of amazing bike-related ideas on sites like Kickstarter, something about The Bike Valet truly captured our imaginations.
Being lifelong city dwellers, we’re all too familiar with spatial challenges created by bikes, even if you don’t live in a tiny apartment. There’s also the fact that all of the conventional storage options are bulky, ugly, pathetically cheap or prohibitively expensive, or just flat-out suck. And that’s before we get to the story of the people behind the idea, which is even more compelling. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Normally, we’d do a story like this as an email interview. But our conflicting schedules and the pending expiration of The Bike Valet’s Kickstarter campaign prompted us to try something different. So we asked Bike Valet creator Steven Tiller to tell us the story in his own words. I hope you enjoy it, and I encourage you to support the project in whatever way you can. – Charles
We are on a ride, a ride that started with the burglary and theft of our business and looks as though it might launch us in to a worldwide market for something that not to long ago was just an idea, a scribble on paper.
As a guy that works with his hands, as a guy that makes his living with his tools, as a family living on a shoestring, there is not much worse than showing up to work in the morning to a sprung roll-up, a hole in the side of the building and the means with which you make your living gone in to thin air. It produces an unfathomable pit in your stomach and the only thing you can think is, “What the $#@! am I going to do now?”
An overburdened police department essentially laughed at any chance of my tools being recovered. “Look, I have violent crimes in the system that are eight months old, and we haven’t even processed the fingerprints yet. Sorry, there’s nothing I can do,” said the crackling, tinny voice of the detective on the other end of my overpriced, underperforming cell phone.
So I went home, picked up the camera, headed back to the shop and started filming. We had already received approval for our Kickstarter project “The Bike Valet, Art… Meet Function” a few weeks earlier. The concept was there, the prototypes were done. I originally figured we would launch it in March and take our time to make sure it was right. I had visions of a sick production video with overlaid graphics a bomb soundtrack as professional as possible with our meager iMovie. But then the universe doesn’t always cooperate the way you plan.
We had to do something and the something had to be now. Three days of filming, typing and editing later, Kickstarter was live. We have been Tweeting, Facebooking, emailing and promoting ever since. It’s a little surreal and humbling to go from total obscurity to being asked to talk about your design philosophy on international sites with viewers in the hundreds of thousands or more. But it has been a wonderful lesson on the power of social media and it ability to connect to those that need to see it.
The question is, will it pay off and translate into funding the project and a foundation for a new business venture? Well…there are just a few days left in the campaign, the numbers continue to tick upward, the design and cycling blogs keep asking questions and our fingers are crossed.
– Steven Tiller
The Kickstarter Campaign for The Bike Valet closes on Wednesday, February 8 at 6:08 PM EST. Please watch the video and make a contribution, or just help spread the word. Thanks!
About The Bike Valet
The Bike Valet was designed out of necessity, specifically geared towards the urban small space apartment dweller to relieve entryway congestion. The over-under design allows you to cantilever an object (in this case a bike) by employing gravity and leverage. A simple, ancient technique employed since the dawn of man’s use of tools. I have used it for years on many projects — it is not a new concept, but simply a different use.
I wanted to make a product with an elegant design combining both form and function. The Bike Valet integrates the bicycle, bag and helmet cradles into an arbitrary abstract shape, a mix of both art and utility.
Although a simple pair of rubber hooks may suffice, there are a great deal of us that would not hang utility hooks from the hardware store in the first room people see in our homes. I wanted to provide these individuals with a graceful option, something less utilitarian.
I don’t believe you can be all things to all people and the design of The Bike Valet is not trying to be universal. I imagine people will either love it or not understand it. I am at peace with that. I design objects and pieces for me that I love the form of. I am always pleased when others find joy in them as well.