Lunar Rethinks Rock Climbing Walls, Making Them Slicker And Smarter

Lunar Europe gives the climbing wall an aesthetic that blends into modern spaces. And of course, it’s controlled with an iPhone app.

Few things say filthy rich more succinctly than an indoor rock-climbing wall. But even those lucky enough to have them, must contend that the hulking structures don’t match their surrounding décor. As Lunar Europe puts it, "Pro gear is out of place. Since it lived in the gym, no one has re-considered the design." That is, until the Munich-based design studio decided to put its spin on the climbing wall, transforming the standard pebble-like holds into a wall art comprised of indented ripples.

The concept, called Nova, is the second in Lunar Europe’s series of home-gym upgrades. (The first is a museum-worthy exercise bike that we’ll feature later in the week.) When not in use, it’s a backlit piece of sculpture. But when you’re ready for some bouldering, a clever UI idea kicks in: A companion iPhone app lights up a route according to your preferred difficulty and then rates your performance.

The conceit behind Nova—to make gym equipment less of an eyesore—is smart. And the UI details are clever. But still, the question is how inspired people other than the Patrick Batemans of the world will be to use it. Is the market for this large enough to get it built? We shall see.

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  • RonW

    "The conceit behind Nova-"  Concept. Did you use spell checker? or autocorrect? Proofread! Force someone to proofread your work before posting it.

  • Russell

    I love the thought that Art becomes functional and certainly anything that promotes a healthy physical lifestyle and fun to climb is a great step forward. Check out another purposeful idea same concept different environment.  

  • Writer Dave

    I agree with all the previous notes from climbers - pretty, but not really useful. I'd also add that redoing the wall would be damn near impossible, meaning that it would get old and habitual PDQ.

    And frankly, when dealing with athletic equipment the question NEVER is "how inspired people other than the Patrick Batemans of the world will be to use it. Is the market for this large enough to get it built?", but instead "is it suitable for the task at hand?"

    Sadly, this fails at its primary purpose.

  • guetta

    I like the idea of calling it a scalable sculputure. Maybe this wall will not become the newest partner for the heavy duty rock climber, but it is a beautiful work of art and I can see the benefit of having something like this in your home. Can't wait to see the other product that they are working on. Even if these products do not become a reality, they are pushing the envelope of what exercise equipment should look like and that is a great step in the right direction.  

  • Houston Dupre

    Totally cool! Only a few things...

    No rock climber would/should train on this wall. As Mr.Fichtner mentioned below, "slicker" is not what climbers are looking for, in fact, we chalk the heck out of our hands every chance we get to keep them dry. Which brings another point, after any decent use of this wall it would be covered in chalk and scuffed with black marks from smearing on it... which would certainly tarnish the obvious "form over function". Additionally, all of the holds on the wall are recessed (negative) and there are no "features" to the wall that force use of other muscle groups (such as a slab, invert, vertical crack, or arete). Climbing is a high impact sport and can be very stressful on joints, muscles and ligaments because of its repetitive, often over-head, high strain motions. Climbing on a wall that does not balance the workout will quickly lead to overuse and strain injuries. There is good reason climbing gyms look the way they do, we are mostly concerned with the way things work than the way they look.

    That being said, I am a designer by trade so can certainly appreciate the aesthetic. I would not call this a "climbing wall" though, and instead call it a "scalable sculpture".

  • Bwaite86

    While this is pretty, it's also pretty silly. Ask any climber, but plain vertical walls without any features of note are booooring, especially on shorter boulder problems. Without varied terrain that allows for interesting, dynamic moves, anyone who climbs with regularity would tire of this quickly. And yes, it would get covered in gunk.

  • Caverbabe1

    Climbers are such a tiny portion of the market for such an invention...and climbers are certainly not who or what they used to be!

  • Ben Griffin

    What this needs is a good covering of chalky fingerprints and boot smears for added realism ;)

    It certainly makes a bold statement and expresses it's purpose well, reflecting the tension that exists in climbing between power, drama, dynamism and elegance. The 3D form and surface textures could be developed further to represent a more realistic variety of holds - but you'd doubtless sacrifice some of the emotional impact that results from the pared back aesthetic. The "smart routes" idea is interesting... There are a few climbing guide apps out there detailing routes on crags, and I can see similar route planning/sharing systems working well for commercial climbing walls (with or without the integrated lighting). So far I think these apps show photos with routes superimposed, but "augmented reality" via the camera is an interesting possibility. Of course, climbing with a smart phone in your back pocket is entirely at your own risk.

  • nrollins

    As an architect, I see tremendous opportunity for this.  I've had to include rock walls in rehabilitation hospitals in the past.  Most times, providing a pre-manufactured product like this into a building makes it an eyesore.  But this is a wonderful solution to both contemporary aesthetics and functional need.  I will be keeping this in mind for future projects!

  • Brian Fichtner

    Interesting concept. I get your intent with the title, but as a former (casual) climber, the word "slicker" is not a good thing when describing a surface to be scaled.