You’ve won three gold awards for your design. Please tell us about these awards in some more details, and what is the tip for success?
I have won three IF Gold Awards, 2 in the mountain bike category for the Niner Rip 9 RDO and the Niner Jet 9 RDO, and one in the road bike category for the Factor Vis Vires (now called the Factor One). I’ve also won two IF Awards for the Niner Air 9 Carbon and the Niner Carbon fork, as well as a D&I Award for the Factor Vis Vires.
I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve done and the recognition I’ve received for this work. It is a spotlight in my career and something that I strive for in every design I do. I’m committed to making and executing progressive, amazing looking bikes with increased functionality. I think one of the things that sets me apart as a designer is my ability to see the whole picture. There are incredibly talented industrial designers out there working on far more radical designs and incredibly talented mechanical engineers working on forward thinking concepts, but what I bring to the table is an understanding on how and where to push, what the market trends are (and will be) and more importantly, what the current manufacturing capabilities are to make my designs a reality. I push the envelope for sure, but I also have a very good handle on what IS doable, vs. concept work that cannot be brought to market.
I think the key to all of this, is that I love to ride bikes! I am a bike geek through and through!
Tell us about your tremendous success with Niner, and how important is it for a successful designer to have great business experience.
Niner is something I am also very proud of. First of all, the level of success we had (still have) with Niner was a lot of work! We grew Niner at a very fast rate in a very short amount of time, and that took a lot of hours, and an ‘all hands on deck’ attitude. In the beginning, it was just Chris and I, and I designed every Niner Bike for 7 years while Chris handled the business side of things. There were some ups and downs during that time, but it was our commitment to make a better bike and our passion that really drove the company. These things are paramount. If you’re just making another widget, the consumer can see through that really easily!
I’m not sure designers need to have great business experience. I like a designer with his or her head in the clouds, to dream of things not done before, or how to make them better. Making business decisions, however, on what to execute on and where the market is going and what is next is incredibly important. Somebody needs to oversee the designer and add direction and focus. Again, the ability to understand the whole process from beginning to end and to love what you’re doing makes business decisions easier and better. For my designs, I start first with the business decisions on what and how, I oversee myself, which isn’t always the best idea, but in my case, I’m my biggest critic, so if it’s not right, I’ll push myself harder.
What are your design focuses for the new commuter bike?
The new commuter bike will be focused on function meeting fashion. Comfort, safety, and integration are incredibly important to the modern commuter, and these things will be at the forefront of the new commuter bike, but everybody always wants a bike that looks good, too, and the looks of this new commuter bike will hopefully blow people away. We’re going to push the boundaries again!
What type of commuter bike do you want to introduce to the market? What’s unique about it? Does it fill a blank in the market?
I want to bring a unique and groundbreaking design to market. Something beautiful to look at, sleek to ride, smooth, and, most importantly, striking. There are some amazingly cool commuter bikes on the market right now, but most of them have gone for the ‘retro’ look; wonderful steel machines with a throwback to the sixties and seventies and sparkling chrome and while I do love this design aesthetic, I want to bring something a little more unique into the space. One that flows, and I believe integration is a key to this design direction. Built in accessories that shouldn’t be accessories at all, safety front and rear, integration with electronics, and comfort, all rolled into one!
How do you want people to remember the new commuter bike as? e. if we want the new commuter bike to be remembered as some iconic product, how would you describe it?
I would love for the new commuter bike to tell the story of a turning point in time, from status quo to rideable art. I would love for people to see the bike years from now, still find beauty in it, and know that this bike in this time and place, changed the direction of the commuter. There is so much to do in this design space, and this is only the beginning, but I want this new bike to be a departure and the horizon of a new direction. Lofty goal, but I hold myself to those all the time.
Anything else you like to share about the new design?
This is a fun project, and I’m always eager to get through development and out into consumers hands. It’s a longer road than most realize, but it’s a fun one, and my brain is on fire right now, excited and encouraged by what’s to come!