How do you turn a city into a biking city? There are shared bike programs, of course. There are slightly off-the-wall initiatives like Copenhagenize Flow that let cities try out modular, tiled bike lanes. But what about revamping the off-the-bike experience, and adding shelves to bike racks, for setting down bags and locks?
Yves Béhar says about half of the staff at his San Francisco Fuseproject office rides a bike to work. When the design firm recently partnered with Landscape Forms to create a line of sustainable outdoor furniture, shelves for bike racks was one of the features the firm decided to build into the new MultipliCITY line. “We wanted to create things that were more responsive to the way people ride bikes today. For instance, they have more luggage when they go to work than for a ride in the park,” Béhar says. The new system is “acknowledging the fact that people are biking to work with bags with computers in them.”
This detail, like the rest of the line, both acknowledges and encourages already-growing behavior patterns among urban dwellers. The other MultipliCITY pieces—a bench, a table, and trash and recycling cans—“recognize the fact that we’re working everywhere, not just at home,” Béhar tells Co.Design. “It’s been a new trend to have meetings outside, or walking meetings, so the system has the elements to allow for different types of possible interactions.”
What makes this possible is the novel design and shipping solution that Béhar and his team developed. Instead of building hulking pieces of furniture, MultipliCITY is a system of flat-packed structures and brackets and screws that can be shipped internationally at a lower cost. Once they’ve made it to their future home—say, an office in Germany, or a new park in Argentina—the landscape architects who ordered the pieces source the horizontal surfaces from local outfits. Then, the pieces can be arranged in the layout that’s best for the site.
The system echoes the design ethos of Fuseproject’s Public Office desk for Herman Miller, which uses modular pieces to allow for impromptu collaborations. MultipliCITY is similarly responsive, Béhar says. “Rather than furniture just dropping in an area, it’s a tool for others to be creative with.”