Christiania Bikes

The purpose of this pamphlet is 1) to assist the in-store meeting between customers and vendors of Christiania Bikes, and 2) to give a useful overview of the possible configuration of the cargo bike. The pamphlet enables the salesperson to quickly mark the ideas of the customer without resorting to writing (and becoming inattentive during conversation).

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If the sale is not completed, the customer can take the pamphlet with her as a reminder of the possibility of a Christiania Bike. Some explanations on the process of designing the pamphlet below.

To structure the images and make very clear the relationship between bicycle engineering and its ultimate purpose, I named and organized all content in sections according to this movement:
1. Form and function
2. Comfort and safety
3. Possibilities

From a design perspective the challenge was to make millions of possible configurations manageable and attractive to both customer and salesperson. Too wide an array of customization can become a negative (you know those products where you’re supposed to fish an endless ocean of choice – not good). To immediately establish a frame of reference I placed the four base models in the left panel with descriptions of typical use cases. This builds an useful mental framework to structure the following customization choices.

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I am a strong proponent of non-standard paper formats when the situation calls for it. In this case we needed a format that both awarded ample space for photos and text, while being easily held and written on without access to a table. A non-ISO size format has the advantage of beckoning attention when compared to other standard-sized sales materiales in a busy shop display. It is also reflection on the square and non-standard shape of the radically square Christiania Bike. A piece of DIN A4 paper doesn’t tell a story in itself. “Everything must communicate” is one of my guiding sentences – a reason for absolutely everything! Exercising ruthless control – out of place anywhere else – is one of the joys of designing.

A family shopping for a cargo bike will bring a diverse set of perspectives to the sales situation. Some will have strong opinions on the colour of the bell, while others are more concerned with safety, durability or maneuverability. Accessories and colour choices feature as prominently as the functional choices to engage any and all wishes the family members have for their bike.

Simplicity is the greatest joy of making the bicycle your primary means of transportation. I have serviced a great number of bikes myself, and in my experience the Christiania Bikes is the Occam’s razor of box bikes: the simplest possible way of constructing a cargo tricycle. Other manufacturers in the cargo tricycle market are competing on either price or aerodynamic stylings.

A focus group survey would never arrive at the square box shape as the most aesthetically pleasing. This is the radical nature of Christiania Bikes and what makes it a great bicycle: it is developed since 1984 out of personal necessity and not according to the whims of a focus group or a “fill in the gaps in the market” line of thinking. The box is space-efficient, durable and can be maintained or replaced using materials readily available. Any commuting cyclist or service person will have learned the value of these traits in bicycle design. The high re-sale value of a Christiania Bike further supports the claim.

Personal necessity has always been the mother of invention and the most consistent driver in the gradual evolution of a great product. Appeasing investors is a common downfall. Innovation in an almost fully developed product is bound to taper off and become more incremental. This is especially true in the realm of bicycles. You don’t change a winning team. You engage your customers, build a community, and remain confident about tiny and informed improvements to your product.

I enjoy design work requiring a strategic marriage of large amounts of information to a context of learning and social interaction. If this is something you grapple with I would be happy to hear from you.

These are my personal opinions and reflections.
 I do not speak on behalf of Christiania Bikes. To visit Christiania Bikes click here.