Here’s something interesting from The Netherlands: a bike/art mash up. The WIT Industries Art Series bikes are being put together by WIT Industries (obviously) of Amsterdam, bike brand Koga, and a group of Dutch artists.
Between them, they’re making five bikes, each with unique, original artwork on a WIT Industries wheelset. There’s no production run; the bikes are one offs.
We contacted project instigator Olaf Wit to get the full story…
road.cc: What is the aim of the project?
Olaf Wit: To have fun. To work together with artists, with whom I normally don't collaborate and give them a new platform to present their art. And to create beautiful high-performance bikes together with Koga.
For some time I had the image in my mind of a completely black bike that is almost like a shadow, with only the rims as pieces of art. I was convinced that this simple idea would create something stunning. Before, I had made a bunch of good track wheels with high profile rims for my friends at Pristine Fixed Gear in Amsterdam so I had the chance to do this.
For me, a very fun part about designing and developing products (which I see as my profession) is collaborating with people who can do things that I can't. In Amsterdam, I am a technical design engineer, surrounded by many, many artists and graphic designers. For a while, I have been wondering in which ways I can make use of this vast amount of available creative talent. I figured this was one way to try and learn.
Also, it's been a rough time for artists in The Netherlands, for they have to get used to a climate where there is less money available for trial and error. There have been some drastic cuts in cultural budget, the past two years. So, it was also a motivation for me to provide artists with a different platform to present themselves with their profession.
I presented the idea to Koga and they were very enthusiastic about it, right away. It fitted well into their recently launched campaign of "The Art of Cycling".
I think it's great to work this way with a high performance cycling company. Koga as a well know brand in track and road racing with their Kimera and also with the Full Pro Track which is almost the standard for Six Day riders in Holland.
WIT Industries is directed at an urban community with the Fendor-Bendor foldable fender, used by fixed gear riders. We have different audiences which are, in my opinion, much closer together than it may seem. By making these bikes together, I think this becomes obvious.
The plan is to create an exhibition after all five bikes are finished. It would be great to have this in a surrounding which has nothing to do with cycling, presented on an 'all-black' background (interested galleries or events can contact me directly info [at] witindustries.nl).
How did you select the artists?
If looking at an artist's work makes me curious about what he or she would do with a wheelset, that's an important criterion to me. Most of the current artists are referred to me by others and some came to me because they liked the project a lot. For me it was also a slight preference if the artist is not so much into cycling. I want them to look at it from their own perspective.
All artists are currently living and working from The Netherlands. I wanted it to be a local project, with local bike brands and artists.
I have had some requests from artists from outside The Netherlands, so maybe in the future we should also make an Art Series On Tour...
Are you intending to sell the bikes?
I haven't given this too much thought yet, but I guess they can be sold (prices upon request) for a complete piece of art (read: bicycle) of which there is only one in the world.
If one is sold, I need to invite a new artist to make a set, to re-complete the series of five. There will always be only five bikes but the collection is refreshed once a bike is sold.
For more information and to see more pictures from the project, head over to art.witindustries.nl
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.