Posted Thursday 24 November 2016
A lightweight bicycle constructed from abandoned golf clubs bought for just 99p from eBay has been created by a Kingston University graphic design student. Calum Ray designed the unusual mode of transport to highlight how middle-aged men are swapping the fairway for the cycle lane as the sport's popularity soars.
Calum's creative wheels were put in motion upon returning to his parent's house in the Hertfordshire countryside following a year living in London as a student. "I was really struck by the increase in cyclists on the road. At the same time I noticed a lot of golf clubs were closing and I wondered if there was a correlation. I visited a few clubs and they confirmed their numbers had declined over the past few years," he said. The statistical data was backed up by online research which spurred on Calum's interest. "I came up with the idea of producing a representation of the way social sport has evolved for the 21st century's middle-aged men," he said.
However, bringing this idea, named Par 12, to life in time for the University's final year degree show proved challenging. "I started by purchasing a set of golf clubs from eBay for 99p, they were unused and that really supported the point I was trying to communicate," Calum said.
With the help of the dedicated technicians in the Kingston University workshops, Calum, 22, received a crash course in cycle maintenance. "The biggest challenge was that golf clubs are so thin and so light they are incredibly difficult to weld. We found that the joints could be strengthened by double welding, you can file the join and grind it down so that it's smooth again. It was a very long process but we got there in the end." The finished product revealed a surprisingly sturdy, fully functional lightweight bicycle and communicative design piece.
Kingston University's Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture's philosophy of thinking through making was at the heart the bicycle's evolution during its construction. Calum explained "Some elements, such as the golf club head pedals, revealed themselves as I was in the workshop. Initially I wanted the handlebars to be shaped using the golf club grip, but because the clubs are so thin, as soon as you started to bend it, they snapped. There was a lot of trial and error to figure out what could be done with the material," Calum said.
It may seem unusual that a graphic designer has produced a bicycle as part of his final university project, however, the freedom and creativity encouraged by the course tutors was one of the reasons Calum chose to study at Kingston University. "The course differs from a lot of other Graphic design courses, it's fully ideas led. The tutors are always available and really encourage you to go for it, build it and make it happen"
Senior lecturer in graphic design Kieran O'Connor encouraged Calum and his fellow students to go beyond the traditional notion of graphic design when bringing their ideas to life. "The practice has evolved to overlap with many neighbouring disciplines and encompass new ones and our students must be agile enough to explore the full extent of their options," he explained. "Calum took familiar objects which represent golf and cycling, remixing them to become so much more than the sum of their parts."
In addition to his work for the degree show, Calum and a group of creative course mates won a coveted D & AD Yellow Pencil award. Their proposal rebranded popular design blog It's Nice That into It's Brave That, overhauling the site content to showcase brave creative ideas making a global impact.
Calum is eager to continue to pursue creative ventures outside of his career, an attitude that he says was cultivated at Kingston University. "During our degree we were encouraged to take on side projects outside work on weekends and evenings. It's so important to keep doing things that you're genuinely passionate and excited about, it's a breath of fresh air," he said. Calum is keen for the project to step up a gear and plans to produce a range of golf inspired cycling attire including tartan jerseys and vibrantly coloured lycra racing outfits.
Despite being approached by people interested in purchasing the bike, Calum is reluctant to part with the bespoke one-off piece. However, Calum wants to encourage people to construct a version of the hybrid cycle for themselves. "I am designing a manual, which will be open source, so that other people can turn their old golf clubs into bikes. It's also to highlight the humour in the idea. Imagine a peloton of golf bikes cycling along the highway...or the fairway!"