by Lynn Maleh
Richard Heath just finished up an internship at Australian-based Industrial design company, BlueSkyDesign. While he may not be a CEO yet, he’s certainly already thinking like one. Frustrated by his daily train commute from Sydney’s western suburbs to his internship in the city, Heath took advantage of BlueSky’s resources to help design the electric folding BlueSkyBike for urban commuters.
While we probably can’t convince the street-smart Heath to take on some stars and stripes, we did catch a hold of him for a quick interview. Check out his thoughts on bikes, design, and defying the intern quo:
FixieBikes.com: What inspired the BlueSkyBike project?
Heath: I definitely noticed a need for this kind of alternative to motor cars on the market.
Bicycles have always been known as some of the most efficient forms of transportation, and semi powered bikes are becoming increasingly popular. No one has yet to really package the two effectively. Also, there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of design out there aimed at people who don’t want race bikes, yet do want advanced design and style!
FixieBikes.com: How did you formulate the design of the bike?
Heath: Dutch commuter bikes were a big inspiration. They have classic, almost timeless forms that appeal to a lot of people and suit the intended commuter style. The challenge was to mix this traditional style with industrial design to give the BlueSkyBike a modern, technical feel.
FixieBikes.com: How far along is the project?
Heath: Definitely pre-production at this stage. Currently everything is computer generated, apart from very basic models exploring folding concepts etc. I think the design’s main benefit is in its simplicity. I wanted people to see the design and easily be able to figure out how it works, rather than be intimidated by it.
FixieBikes.com: What sets the BlueSkyBike apart from the rest?
Heath: The only feature that is totally unique (as far as I know!) is the rotating mechanism. By having the rear arm rotate at an angle, the rear wheel stays in line with the front wheel when riding. A lot of similar folding bikes have offset wheels to achieve this, which I don’t think is very practical.
While the smart phone app and regenerative braking features have been touched on by other concepts, I wanted to incorporate my own spin on them, as I think they are essential for modern commuters.
The whole visual package is what would really attract potential buyers to this product. Like I mentioned before, this isn’t a new idea, but it’s put together far more thoughtfully than other bikes. It has a well-rounded subtle design that isn’t in your face, yet sets itself apart by being simple and clever.
FixieBikes.com: How did you convince a major Industrial Design firm to take a chance on an intern?
Heath: As I wanted to promote the idea as a realistic future product, my pitches needed to be convincing enough for people to realize that these ideas could and can work. BlueSkyDesign was supportive from the very beginning and continued to be an influential voice in the project’s realization.
FixieBikes.com: How did BlueSkyDesign assist with the conception of the BlueSkyBike?
Heath: I was working as an intern with BlueSky Design in Sydney during the project. They came up with the basic idea of the brief after seeing the latest VW electric scooter concept, and I ran with it after that! Throughout the design process, I frequently consulted with them on a range of issues, mechanical and aesthetic, and presented my progress frequently.
I’m a real fan of the work BlueSky has done previously – so I wanted to pay homage to the company in the way I styled the concept. I wanted to give the bike a real “industrial design” feel, with subtle, yet innovative features.
FixieBikes.com: What can we look forward to from BlueSkyBike?
Heath: My time at BlueSky has ended for the time being, culminating with me presenting this concept to the team. However, as with many of my projects, I would love to see the BlueSkyBike come to life! I believe it’s extremely relevant to life today.
While it would be nice to see it on the roads one day, the main idea is to promote bicycles as modern transportation options and encourage more people to ride them.
This interview has been brought to you by FixieBikes.com.