Interview with Daryl Villanueva, Founder of Bandit9 Motorcycle Design

Interview with Daryl Villanueva, Founder of Bandit9 Motorcycle Design

I first came across Bandit9 Motorcycles and the work of Daryl Villanueva back in 2012. I don’t know much about motorcycles or the culture but I know good industrial design when I see it. The work that Daryl is doing is pretty phenomenal so I spoke with him about his start in the business, his newest concept Bishop, and if he’s found his true calling.

Tell me a bit about yourself and how you got into making custom motorcycles. How did Bandit9 get started?
I’m Daryl Villanueva. I was born in the Philippines, raised in Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia, studied graphic design in the States, worked as an Art Director/Creative Director in Los Angeles, Dubai, Vietnam and Beijing. Now I am the creator and chief designer of Bandit9 Motorcycle Design. I’m back in Saigon to start our new Southeast Asian operation.

Bandit9 Motorcycle Design

I started messing with bikes in Saigon in 2009, hence the 9 in Bandit9. My very first motorcycle was a 50cc Honda Cub. My first ride on the Cub was like achieving nirvana. I used to go out for these midnight rides with my girlfriend – the streets were empty, nothing but stars above you, a quiet lake on one side and a jungle on the other. It was completely quiet except for the buzzing of the 50cc engine. There was something really poetic about the experience. Something clicked inside; I fell in love with motorcycles.

A few years later, I was in Beijing and I was starting to get sick of my advertising gig so I planned my escape. I didn’t have that “fearless” entrepreneur spirit so I had to juggle both jobs for a while. I wanted to test whether or not people would be interested in my designs. It started real slow but after 3 years of building a brand and learning about the motorcycle industry, I finally freed myself from my advertising chains.

Bandit9 Bishop

You’re working on a new bike called Bishop (seen above), which to me feels quite different from other bikes I see. What’s the story behind it?

Bandit9 Saigon is focused on designing high-end motorcycles at affordable prices.

What we try to do with every release, Bishop included, is to create some sort of controversy. The response we got to Bishop was quite polarizing. People either really loved it or really hated it. And that tells me a few things:
• it’s a sign that Bishop is something unfamiliar
• it conjures up an emotion, which is what I want whenever we design bikes
• love it or hate it, people give a damn about it.

Besides the design challenge, ensuring that the bike is affordable is quite difficult. It easy to dream big but dreaming big on a budget is hard. It takes a lot of research and negotiation with suppliers. And if it goes over what I think is affordable, I’d have to go back to the drawing board. $6400 is not a small amount of money but if you look around, it’s hard to get something with the same craftsmanship and design aesthetic as Bishop for less than $15,000.

You’ve made a lot of beautiful custom bikes in the past, what do you think sets the Bishop apart?
I think Bishop is the only bike that allows the purity of its materials to do the work. It has no paint, it has no finish, it has no tricks, no bells, no whistles. It’s simply a mixture of elements – wood and high-grade metal. That’s definitely my favorite thing about the bike. It’s quite an honest design.

Bandit9 Motorcycle Design

What do you think of the motorcycle market in general? Is there a growing desire for more handmade bikes?

To be honest, why people still go for stock bikes completely baffles me. Buying a motorcycle, at least for me, is more of an emotional response to a piece of art-machinery. I must be missing something but I don’t see the artistry in today’s stock bikes with all the decals, bumpy lines, and odd proportions.
Yes, the market for handmade bikes is growing but I’d love to see it grow at a faster rate.

Other than yourself, who do you feel is making truly beautiful bikes?
I’m a huge fan of Shinya Kimura. I think his designs are a testament of what a bike can be. Shinya’s designs aren’t just incrementally better than the other builders, he leapfrogs them. The most incredible thing about Shinya is not his motorcycles but Shinya himself. This sounds like a man crush but I love what the man’s about – his philosophy, his character, his wisdom, everything! The man is a living legend in my opinion.

Bandit9 Motorcycle Design

Do you feel like building motorcycles is your one true calling? At this point can you see yourself doing anything else?
Ha! Today it is. Can I see myself doing anything else? God, I hope so. I don’t think I can stick to one thing. I’m interested in so many things. I want to design video games, I want to be a street photographer, I want to create furniture, I want to do more work with charity, I want to travel more, I want to go back to school. The list is absolutely endless and I do hope I get to all of it before I’m in the ground. One thing’s for sure, I can’t imagine doing only one thing for the rest of my life.

Bobby Solomon

August 22, 2014 / By

Stunning Branding & Identity for the Hypothetical New York Museum of Glass

New York Museum of Glass

New York Museum of Glass

School of Visual Arts student Leo Porto recently put his design skills to use by craft a branding and identity for the New York Museum of Glass. You’ve never heard of it? That’s probably because it doesn’t exist. You wouldn’t know that by looking at these images though which to me paint a very real image of a fictional place.

New York Museum of Glass

The really standout piece for me is the word mark he created for the museum. Meant to emulate the distortions you would find when viewing the logo through glass, it’s both cheeky and elegant. I especially love where the E and W connect as well as the L to the A. The whole thing is abstract and distorted but it makes so much sense in context with what the museum would be.

New York Museum of Glass

And though he used mainly black and white for the branding he did bring in some strong blues and reds, which to me seem to emulate glass being heated by a blowtorch, something like this. You get a sense of heat and energy from the palette, and the examples he created like the tickets and oversized show posters look incredible.

New York Museum of Glass

New York Museum of Glass

New York Museum of Glass

I think someone needs to make this vision of a contemporary glass museum a reality and pay Leo lots of money to use his ideas. I’m certain that once he graduates from SVA he won’t have any problems finding work.

Bobby Solomon

August 22, 2014 / By

Wonderment and Innocence: An Interview with Street Artist Swoon

“There’s that feeling that you get when you see something that you don’t understand the origin of: wonderment,” she said. “It brings about a kind of innocence, and I love that. I love to witness it. I love to be a part of making those moments happen.”

That’s from an interview with Swoon, the New York based street artist turned fine artist who’s beautified derelict alleys and abandoned buildings with her intricate paper wheat pastes for the last 10+ years. She speaks with the NY Times about her work and her career here, as well her show at the Brooklyn Museum, which closes on August 24. Be sure to watch the video above because it’s always great to her and artist’s story in their own words.

Read the full interview by clicking here.

Swoon

Bobby Solomon

August 20, 2014 / By

Watch Jim Henson’s Experimental Animation “Drums West” From 1961

Came across this amazing animation by Jim Henson that he made back in 1961 using cut-paper. It was created in his home studio in Bethesda, MD and was one of several experiment shorts inspired by jazz musician Chico Hamilton. I love the build-up of energy that he was able to capture and how he was able to visualize the sounds so perfectly.

Jim Henson's Experimental Video 'Drums West' From 1961

Bobby Solomon

August 20, 2014 / By

A Thoughtful Essay On The Details of Design by Craig Mod

A Thoughtful Essay On The Details of Design by Craig Mod

I really hate the phrase “the devil’s in the details” but I certainly appreciate it’s intention. As a designer and someone who regards aesthetics in all forms, the details are the key. When an object, or even an experience, gets all the details right and it’s a transformative experience. Good details surprise you, they excite you, and they elevate the bar of your personal taste.

Writer Craig Mod recently posted a poetic piece on Medium titled Let’s talk about margins, which relates the importance of details to book making. Funny enough, my favorite part of his piece isn’t about books, it’s about buildings.

Consider buildings. Although you may not be an architect, you can be touched by a graceful space. The kind of space where you close your eyes and feel the gentle hand of the architect reveal itself in the way sound and air moves around you. Try it sometime. Go to your favorite space. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and intuit the goodness. Conversely, you can sense neglect or disregard the same way. There’s a building in Tokyo that feels like it hates the world. Standing in its shadow, the wind becomes portentous, howling, angry. It will swallow you if you close your eyes. It does not want you there. Its rotating doors even killed a child the first week it opened. It is not a nice building. You are not an architect but you know this: The building is bad. There are no George Nakashima chairs inside.

Bobby Solomon

August 19, 2014 / By

An Interview with Knit Wit: A Biannual Print-Only Magazine About Fiber Art and Textiles

Knit Wit Magazine

I was recently introduced to Zinzi Edmundson and Gigi Jack, the creators of a lifestyle-based indie print magazine focused on knitting and fiber art called Knit Wit. Their concept is simple, they want to highlight the fresh, contemporary side of the craft, bringing to light the types of people and projects you wouldn’t find in normal craft magazines. They’re currently trying to Kickstart the magazine so I figured it would be great to learn more about the project. I spoke to Zinzi who filled me in on why the world needs a print magazine devoted to this specific culture.

Tell me a bit about yourselves, your backgrounds.
Gigi is a native Southern Californian, Santa Monica actually, and I’m from Providence, RI. We met our freshman year of college here in LA and were friends from more or less the first day. Gigi was a diplomacy/Russian major and I was comp lit/classics—yet somehow we got into magazines.

Gigi got a job in the art department at C magazine and I started as editorial assistant at Bon Appétit. We worked those jobs and moved up a bit for several years (Gigi probably lasted longer than I did) before I quit BA to tour with my band and Gigi moved to the land of e-commerce. I returned from the road and started working as features editor at FOAM (a women’s fashion and surf magazine here in LA), where Gigi joined me as Art Director a little after. We found out that we love working together. FOAM experienced a bit of editorial upheaval, so we moved on and both started circulating in that branding/e-commerce world more. Gigi is currently the Art Director at Sole Society, I do copywriting and content creation for brands like Nasty Gal, Vans, Nixon, etc. and I also have a brand consultancy company with a friend.

Knit Wit Magazine

Why do you feel it’s important to share the world of textile art?
The idea started much smaller. I’m a knitter and, looking around, I realized there wasn’t anything media-wise that totally spoke to me and the way I relate to the craft. Initially I was going to do a zine (in the sense that I would be its only author, emphasizing DIY in content and character, and all that) about knitting. As it turns out, I’m not great at keeping things on a small, reasonable scale. The deeper I dove into the world of textiles the more I kept expanding the scope. Dyeing! Weaving! Embroidery! There are just so many beautiful, thoughtful, dynamic things being made and truly incredible people cooking it up—ultimately I couldn’t limit it to knitting. So, I guess the answer is that I started by trying to make a zine for myself and ended up making a magazine about all the fun shit I found—for everyone else to see.

And why do you think you were drawn to making it a print magazine versus doing it digitally?
I get asked the print question a lot. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a super concrete answer, but I do have several vague ones. There is something really square, sort of plumb I think, about representing craft or craft-based art in a physical form. It’s a little bit symmetrical, which I like. I also missed it. I’ve done some branded magazines post-FOAM, but I think we all know those aren’t the same, try as they might!

We came of age as editors and designers in a weird time. We have a rarified, archaic vocabulary and knowledge that became moot almost as soon as we learned it. It felt like it would be nice to exercise those muscles. Maybe that is misplaced nostalgia or I am prematurely stodgy (won’t be the first time I’ve heard that!), but all I ever wanted to do was make magazines and somewhere along the way I stopped doing that.

Thirdly, it felt a lot like a challenge. I don’t think it’s an easy thing to start a blog, do it every day (every. fucking. day. sheesh) and do it well enough everyday to garner a following. No that’s not easy, but there was something about starting a print magazine from scratch without any online presence to support it (besides social) that seemed (still seems) a little bit like I couldn’t do it. I think I liked that I might not be able to do it—and that I was going to try and see if I could anyway.

Knit Wit Magazine

The imagery and content in the magazine has a really contemporary feeling, is there a world there most people don’t know about?
Right, we aimed for a more graphic and fashion forward aesthetic than is probably expected from a magazine primarily dealing in handmade/craft. One of the reasons is definitely to do just that: To stray from some preconceived notions of what the community might be like. It’s not all deep dark shadows, greyed out photography and introspective girls with low pony tails living in remote snowy cabins.

There also seems to be an understanding that no matter what your subject, if you’re making an indie magazine you’ll probably employ that style of photography anyway. It can be pretty repetitive. It’s a little bit like how every organic market or raw food restaurant feels the need to roll out a fleet of bamboo tables, a sagey mint wall color, and a logo with some obligatory sprouting leaf icon scrolling out. Do we really need these obvious visual clues to know we’re eating real food?

Knit Wit Magazine

Was it important to feature makers from around the world?
Yes, definitely. In general, we tried to keep things broad. I lifted a phrase from FOAM recently while describing Knit Wit (I can’t remember if I coined it or not, so let’s credit our EIC Kristina Dechter with this one). The phrase is: “general interest niche magazine.”

So yeah, there’s a really rigid framework that informs all the content (fiber art, textiles, knitting), but we look at it from all angles and in the familiar format of a women’s interest or general interest book. That means that we might have a trend piece about tassels, followed by a travelogue to an ancient weaving village in Oaxaca, followed by a visit to fiber artist Elena Stonaker’s idyllic LA studio, followed by an editorial featuring model/knitwear designer Rachel Rutt in Sydney. Ultimately, it became global because we kept it so broad.

Do you feel like the independent craft community around textiles needs a proper outlet?
Well I certainly hope so! I think there’s definitely an opening for this type of title, neither essay-based/institutional nor crafty/hobbyist. We’ll see if it takes. I don’t think I’m too unique of a person, so I think that if I would want a magazine like this, then there must be more like me out there. We’ll see what happens.

Knit Wit Magazine

If you could feature any maker, dead or alive, in an issue of the magazine, who would you choose?
Oh, hm! All the people who never wrote us back during the process of making issue 1? I kid… I got pretty enamored with the women of the Bauhaus weaving workshop earlier this year. Gunta Stolzl, Anni Albers, Otti Berger. Talk about making the best of your circumstances. Because they were women, they were limited to fiber, but they worked within those parameters and pushed the boundaries of “women’s work” and craft into the realm of design and fine art. Yeah, ladies! Subversion and especially feminist subversion seems to go hand-in-hand with craft these days, but the Bauhaus women were starting this revolution with subtlety, poise and stoicism.

Or maybe whoever is responsible for Nike Flyknits because sweater sneakers are basically the ultimate marriage of my favorite things and I would love to talk to that person.

Any final thoughts or feelings?
I guess the only thing I haven’t really touched on yet is our lack of DIY or How-To elements in the magazine. There aren’t any patterns and there aren’t a series of photos that will illustrate with severed hands the step-by-step of how to do a project. It’s not that we won’t ever and it’s not that we don’t like that stuff (we do), but I think it is important to note as part of our initial DNA/value proposition that we aren’t experts. We won’t get instructional because we don’t consider ourselves the teachers and readers our pupils. It’s stupidly cheesy, but we’re all in this together! It’s a magic carpet ride.

If this sounds like the sort of thing you’re into be sure to support the duo on Kickstarter by clicking here.

Bobby Solomon

August 19, 2014 / By

Levi’s Made & Crafted Fall/Winter 2014 Lookbook Collaboration With Wilder Quarterly

Levi's Made & Crafted Fall/Winter 2014 Lookbook Collaboration With Wilder Magazine

Lookbooks for fashion brands must be tiring to make year after year. Most consist of moody looking models against a wall in alley or something variation of the sort. Levi’s Made & Crafted, the sub-brand that’s much edgier from a fashion perspective, decided to pair up with nature-centric magazine Wilder Quarterly for their Fall/Winter 2014 lookbook. Together they’ve presented the latest collection with a mix of classic product shots, interesting interviews with makers, and profiles on beautiful places and phenomenon.

Levi's Made & Crafted Fall/Winter 2014 Lookbook Collaboration With Wilder Magazine

Levi's Made & Crafted Fall/Winter 2014 Lookbook Collaboration With Wilder Magazine

Levi's Made & Crafted Fall/Winter 2014 Lookbook Collaboration With Wilder Magazine

The collection is a well-made mix of classics like leather jackets and denim paired with some pieces made with soem really interesting patterns. It also seems like the collection is extremely comfortable looking, like you could put on any number of these pieces and feel like you’re ready for the winter to come. Peter Stolz, LM&C men’s designer explains the inspiration for the collection.

The title that we gave the collection for Fall 2014 is The New West: Outdoor. We are constantly excited by the West Coast as an eternally inspiring and pioneering land. We were influenced by how we connect to the outdoors in a modern way. It’s about getting away from the urban hustle and connecting with nature––while also staying connected to the modern world. By contrast, we were also inspired by an increasing grassroots support of local foods, farms, farmer’s markets and local, seasonal ingredients and materials found in cities.

Levi's Made & Crafted Fall/Winter 2014 Lookbook Collaboration With Wilder Magazine

Levi's Made & Crafted Fall/Winter 2014 Lookbook Collaboration With Wilder Magazine

Levi's Made & Crafted Fall/Winter 2014 Lookbook Collaboration With Wilder Magazine

Overall I think Wilder Quarterly has done what they do best, which is creating interesting stories around makers and their crafts, as well as writing stories on star watching and seeing the Northern Lights. The stories and features complement the fashion well and creates a cohesive feeling when you visit the site. You can easily imagine the site as a print experience but I’m glad it’s not. Translating an aesthetic to the web can be difficult but I think Levi’s has done it.

Bobby Solomon

August 19, 2014 / By

Marcel Dunger Uses Resin To “Mend” Broken Pieces of Wood Into Jewelry

Marcel Dunger Jewelry

I’ve noticed an interesting trend of makers “mending” or completing pieces of wood with another material. I few weeks ago I wrote about Hilla Shamia creating table and benches out of wood and aluminum, and now I’ve run across the work of Marcel Dunger, who combines resin and wood to create brightly colored pieces of jewelry.

Broken maple which was poured into colored bioresin and then processed mechanically by hand. The decorative elements reach their maximum color fastness in sunlight and can be used as rings, pendants, earrings and other accessories.

Marcel Dunger Jewelry

It’s quite a simple concept, yet the brightly colored resin paired with the maple wood is an attractive combination that easily grabs your attention. This feels like it’s a sort of design intervention, an interesting way to re-use unwanted or damaged materials. It’ll be interesting to see if more projects like these start to pop up more and more.

Marcel Dunger Jewelry

Marcel Dunger Jewelry

Marcel Dunger Jewelry

Marcel Dunger Jewelry

Bobby Solomon

August 18, 2014 / By

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