(jiří macek) There are not many stylish mopeds like the Honda Zoomer from Osaka. However, British designer Ben Wilson succeeded in shifting its expression even further when he made it the coat of arms for the surfing season under the flag of the legendary brand of Stussy. It’s no wonder that Ben Wilson is an inventor of bicycles.
The original Honda Zoomer moped was designed by the progressive N Project. This simple light-footed motor bicycle became a hit in Japan in 2005. Its unrelenting style was irresistible even for Stussy, the iconic, trend-setting surf brand that was founded in 1980 by the great surfer Shawn Stussy. The brand commissioned Ben Wilson (who had already designed several exceptional bicycles) to create a fleet of Zoomers that would reflect its style and orientation. Shawn started selling hand-made surfboards with an unmistakable handwriting. He has become a symbol of surfboard culture and an international fashion titan with a worldwide chain of stores. It is as if the wood-covered moped reminds us of manufacturing personal surfboards, taking us back to its roots in Laguna Beach, where the legendary Stussy started in 1980. The Honda Stussy Zoomer features a clear graphic style (Studio Oscar). Each specimen is hand-shaded by Melliard. The equipment includes a special edition of skateboards with laser marking and a Stussy Alpha MA-1 jacket.
The motor bicycle project for Stussy is not a typical example from the portfolio of Ben Wilson. Wilson is, first of all, a designer-inventor. Regardless of whether he is designing a chair or a bicycle, he always comes up with an unexpected technical solution. The Chairfix chair is carved into a plywood sheet from which one can break the chair off and assemble it. The Downlow Lowrider bicycle is surprising because of its elliptical shape and riding style.
However, he went furthest in this last project when he sat a person and pedals into the centre of a huge wheel. The Motocykle has the charm of orbital satellites and pioneer projects from the beginning of the 20th century.
“Ever since cycling for the first time without stabilizers, I have been fascinated by human propulsion. Over the years, the myth of the monowheel has become an equal fascination,” explains Ben Wilson.
Sure, he is not the only one who is fascinated by such things. Since the first patent in 1860, the monowheel project has always been interesting. Allegedly, several manufacturers are working on its design.
“As we can\'t buy a monowheel, we made one,” says Wilson. “The attraction of this project is venturing into the unknown. We don\'t suggest for one moment that a functioning human-powered monowheel could ever provide an improvement over the modern bicycle. Instead, its value would come from the discourse and ideas generated as a result of this research.”
Issey Miyake included the Motocykle project into the 21st Century Man Exhibition that is being prepared for 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo. Ben Wilson simply could not be absent.
Honda Stussy Zoomer by Ben Wilson, photo: Ben Wilson archive