vanhulsteijn embellishes its signature handmade bicycle using urushi japnese lacquer technique
 
vanhulsteijn embellishes its signature handmade bicycle using urushi japnese lacquer technique vanhulsteijn embellishes its signature handmade bicycle using urushi japnese lacquer technique
jun 04, 2016

vanhulsteijn embellishes its signature handmade bicycle using urushi japnese lacquer technique

vanhulsteijn embellishes its signature handmade bicycle using urushi japnese lacquer technique
image courtesy of vanhulsteijn

 

 

 

bike design: herman van hulsteijn has distinguished himself as a designer dedicated to producing bicycles in his arnhem-based factory—one of only a few that actually make bike frames in holland—with a commitment to making performance bicycles that look good.

vanhulsteijn bicycles designboom
the vanhulsteijn bike is characterized by its curved frame
image courtesy of vanhulsteijn

 

 

 

the single most distinguishing feature of the ‘vanhulsteijn brand bicycle‘ is its curved frame that stretches from the saddle toward the handlebars in front, terminating at the rear wheel in the back. each two-wheeler is handcrafted out of stainless steel by a small team of craftsmen using the latest techniques and a wide variety of quality parts in the middle of arnhem’s working-class quarters.

vanhulsteijn urushi bike XXI triennale international exhibition designboom
the dutch designer teamed up with two artisans specializing in urushi to create the limited edition bicycle
image courtesy of vanhulsteijn

 

 

 

in a special collaboration with sotheby’s, herman was invited to create a limited edition of the vanhulsteijn bicycle. for this occasion he teamed up with two artisans who specialize in urushi—the age-old japanese lacquer technique—more specifically tsugaru nuri, in which several layers of gold leaf are applied to achieve a stunning effect of rich contrasts that are beautifully paired with the industrial parts of the bike.

vanhulsteijn urushi bike XXI triennale international exhibition designboom
several layers of gold leaf are applied using the japanese lacquer technique, achieving an effect of rich contrasts
image courtesy of vanhulsteijn

 

 

 

over the course of five months, 20 layers of gold were added to each bike frame—a limited edition of nine in total—which resulted in the layer of precious metal glowing underneath the applied lacquer, resulting in an enormous feeling of depth whereby the pattern almost appears to be three-dimensional. the nature of the technique sees that each bike has its own naturally unique finish.

vanhulsteijn urushi bike XXI triennale international exhibition designboom
the layer of precious metal emerges from underneath the applied lacquer, resulting in a feeling of depth
image courtesy of vanhulsteijn

 

 

 

urushi is actually the sap derived from the urushi or lacquer tree (rhus vernicifera), that is native to china, japan, korea and the himalayas. the sap of this tree contains a resin (urushiol) which, when exposed to moisture and air, polymerizes and becomes a very hard, durable, plastic-like substance (urushi is actually a natural plastic). the process of applying the lacquer is long and labour intensive: independent of the size of the surface, it takes an average of six months to carry out the finishing.

vanhulsteijn urushi bike XXI triennale international exhibition designboom
the saddle and tops of the handlebars are upholstered in ray skin
image courtesy of vanhulsteijn

 

 

 

 

the ‘urushi bicycles’ are outfitted with the highest quality hand-made components. van hulsteijn developed signature parts, including elegantly shaped brake levers and pedals, himself. each element of the bikes that have no lacquer, have been carefully polished by hand to highlight their shape. the saddle and handle bar tops are upholstered in ray-skin, completing the luxurious look of the design. the bicycle is ultimately finished with vanhulsteijn’s logo and edition number rendered in the maki-e technique which uses different grain sizes of gold dust sprinkled in urushi lacquer.

 

the making of ‘the urushi bicycle’
video courtesy of vanhulsteijn

 

 

 

the ‘urushi bicycle’ by vanhulsteijn is presented in the ‘new craft’ show at fabbrica del vapore that is part of the program of the XXI triennale international exhibition in milan. we are witnessing a revolution in technology such that it is transforming our way of producing, consuming and designing. digital manufacturing now means we can imagine a design that affords variety and customization, which has lead to a new generation of artisans who make use of these new processes to promote diversity and create products of ever higher quality. ‘new craft’ offers a look at these manufacturing methods, citing projects by young international creatives who bring together an encounter between technological innovation and excellence in traditional production and craftsmanship, resulting in a cultural design revolution.

vanhulsteijn urushi bike XXI triennale international exhibition designboom
the ‘urushi bicycle’ on display in the ‘new craft’ exhibition at fabbrica del vapore
image © designboom

 

 

 

technical details:

 

frame: M size
wheels: SL42 with paul track hubs
tires: conti
cranks: campagnolo pista, polished
rear sprocket: white industries 17T
gears: singlespeed
brakes: custom
handlebars: custom
saddle: rayskin

vanhulsteijn urushi bike XXI triennale international exhibition designboom
‘new craft’ cites projects that offer an encounter between technological innovation and excellence in traditional craft
image © designboom vanhulsteijn urushi bike XXI triennale international exhibition designboom
detail of the urushi lacquer finish
image © designboom

 

 


XXI-triennale-international-exhibition-logo

 

XXI triennale international exhibition: 21st century. design after design
april 2nd – september 12th, 2016

 

the XXI triennale di milano international exhibition has a vast program of exhibitions, events, competitions, festivals and meetings throughout the city, in venues ranging from la triennale (palazzo della triennale) to the fabbrica del vapore, pirelli hangarbicocca, the politecnico di milano campuses, the IULM campus, MUDEC, the national museum of science and technology ‘leonardo da vinci’, BASE milano, the palazzo della permanente, the pirelli tower, the ex expo site, the museo diocesano, the pirelli foundation, the university of milan, the accademia di belle arti di brera, the triennale expogate through to the villa reale in monza, the historic site of the first international exhibitions. running under the title ’21st century. design after design’, it touches on key questions, such as the new dramatic art of design, which consists mainly in its ability to deal with those anthropological issues that classical modernity has excluded from its brief, such as death, the sacred, eros, destiny, traditions, and history; the issue of gender in design; the impact of globalization on design; the transformations brought about by the dawn of the twenty-first century and the crisis of 2008; the relationship between city and design; the relationship between design and the accessibility of new information technologies; and the relationship between design and craftsmanship.

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