Last week, lighting manufacturer Flos
opened “Public Works,” an exhibition of 27 posters coordinated by Public
, a bicycle and gear company on a mission to reclaim urban streets. The company gathered a gang of designers and assigned each of them the task of creating a poster that not only promoted the values of public space and connectivity but also incorporated bicycles.
The fruits of the artists’ creativity filled the Flos showroom in New York, and guests eagerly shuffled from poster to poster. Skolos-Wedell
’s piece “explores the relationship between the bike and rider,” says Thomas Wedell, likening the bicycle to a dance partner as he looks into the complexities and grace found in the machine. Milton Glaser
, the graphic designer and co-founder of New York Magazine
, contributes a poster that showed a repetition of circular patterns that look like technicolor wheels. Sue Walsh, his collaborator, says that the form is “reflective of the density of a city such as New York.” Others, such as graphic designer and artist Jennifer Sterling, take a more literal approach. She tried to capture the “organic feel of looking down at the pavement and the spokes while riding a bike,” says the artist.
Beyond artistic expression, the exhibit hoped to spread the message of public space. Rob Forbes, founder of Public as well as Design Within Reach
, says, “In the United States, we take public space for granted. It is an essential place where people can share, exchange, and cultivate appreciation for their city.”
In addition to the sale of posters, Public raffled off two of their bicycles. All proceeds of the raffle went to Transportation Alternatives
, a New York-based group which seeks to take back city streets from the automobile. As Paul Steeley White, the Executive Director, pointed out, “We need a more balanced space. The car is so spatially inefficient. By finding other ways to get around, we’re finally making room for people.”
After the exhibition spends a week at Flos' New York showroom, Public will host a similar event in San Francisco this week, starting on Tuesday, October 23. From there, the campaign will spread to other U.S. cities and Canada.