Back in 2009, Gianluca Gimini picked up an unusual hobby. The Bologna-based Italian-American designer started approaching his friends — and complete strangers — and asking them to draw a bicycle from memory. (For the sake of continuity, Gimini requested that each artist sketch a men's bike). Easy, right? Well, not so much. Turns out this seemingly simple task was anything but; for all their mechanical purity, bikes have a fair number of moving parts, and even that familiar form (the shape of modern two-wheeler dates to the 1880s, after all), proved dauntingly difficult to render by heart, particularly in the two minutes Gimini gave his artists to complete their masterpieces.
"Some did get close," he says. "some actually nailed it perfectly, but most ended up drawing something that was pretty far off from a regular men’s bicycle."
A single designer could not invent so many new bike designs in 100 lifetimes, and this is why I look at this collection in such awe.
As his collection grew, Gimini noticed some themes: "Nearly 90% of drawings in which the chain is attached to the front wheel (or both to the front and the rear) were made by females. On the other hand, while men generally tend to place the chain correctly, they are more keen to over-complicate the frame when they realize they are not drawing it correctly."
By 2016, the pile had grown to 376 drawings from a broad array of participants from seven different countries, males and females as young as 3 years and as old as 88. He decided to begin creating highly polished renderings of these sketches, and the results — 12 of which you see below — are equal parts brilliant, hilarious and frightening.
"A single designer could not invent so many new bike designs in 100 lifetimes," says Gimini, "and this is why I look at this collection in such awe."
So do we.
When you have finished your study of Gianluca Gimini's fabulously offbeat two-wheeled creations and the sketches that inspired them, join us on Facebook to share your favourite design.
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