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Benedict Radcliffe: Bespoke Bicycles

With a degree in Architecture and a love for machines, Benedict Radcliffe has been poached by everyone from Comme des Garcons and Paul Smith to Landrover, to design and manufacture pieces that cross the borders of sculpture, architecture and engineering. We spoke to Benedict in the lead up to the launch of a series of bespoke bicycles he has created for W Hotel London, with designs by the likes of Ron Arad and Patrick Cox.

The Kent boy with a fascination for all things mobile tells jotta,
With a signature aesthetic that is instantly recognisable, Benedict's sculptures generally take the form of modified vehicles, with only the internal linear anatomy of the vehicle visible. What is it about revealing the skeleton of the form that he is so drawn to?
"I enjoy making the wireframe structures because it is like a 3D technical drawing using steel rod as the line. I love line and I love drawing."

Our favourite bicycle is elliptical and space age, yet unlikely as a mode of transport, and was designed by the omnipresent Ron Arad. "I wanted to explore the idea of a bike with no wheels, with just the suspension, like a smile without the cat." Arad explains, "I was curious how I could make this happen, especially as it's being fuelled by such a great cause... and I can tell you that what's happened from a two minute sketch is already a miracle!"

Benedict's education in Architecure at the Mackintosh School of Art in Glasgow, and proceeding work experience with the likes of leading Glaswegian architectural fabricators Scott Associates as well as contemporary Scottish artists Simon Starling, Jim Lambie, and Martin Boyce left him thoroughly equipped with technical and concpetual foudnations to launch a hugely successful career. "I learnt how to draw as an architecture student then as a fabricator I learnt how to make and manufacture work to a museum quality standard. I have also learnt from very talented skilled craftsmen about quality and attention to detail."

There is a aspect of fetishism in this attention to detail, the imported parts, the workmanship and finish, the same can be said for the bicycles he hand crafted for the W Hotel.

"All the frames have been hand made." He explains, "Three of the frames are standard ESB (Extra Strong Bike) frames designed by Ted James and three frames have been manufactured as a ladies step through design."

Every aspect of the machine has been conceptualised, from the mudguards and paint to the plethora of accessories and fun add-ons for the bike he created with Patrick Cox in mind.

"The idea, based on an old-school three-wheeled (two wheels at the front) Miami ice cream bike came from the fact that I was inspired by Cox's new shop, Cox Cookies and Cake.  The fact that there is a big box on the front means that things can be hidden in there - a 12volt battery powering the music system, fluoro lighting and a coffee machine. Water for the coffee machine can be stored here too. Cakes and cookies will be displayed on the top of the 'box'.

The bike is quite architectural and has fold-down seats on the front of the 'box' so that when it is stationary two people can take a perch and enjoy the coffee and cup cakes. The 'umbrella' or 'shelter' is powder-coated, laser-cut aluminium with slightly abstracted playful tessellating images from the Cox cakes. The bike is visually and aurally (playing everything from Ron Hardy, Larry Heard, Larry Levan through to the wonder boy that is Nicolas Jaar) really fun."

This dream machine is on display and available for use at the W Hotel in Leicester Square fromm Thursday August 18th. In the meantime we ask Benedict what next feat of autombilia he's set his mind to.

"I'm working on styling a late 90s Mazda into a Porsche using lots of fibre glass and body filler. The work will either be called 'Pazda' or 'Morsche'." And will he or has already had the opportunity to make his own dream machine a reality?  "Yes! The Pazda/Morsche I am making with super wide wheel arches. I really looking forward to getting skilled at fibre glassing the different body panels, side skirts and spoilers."

To see more of Benedict's projects and designs visit his website.
For more information on the W-Hotel project check their london website.

Posted on
17 August 2011
By Millie Ross
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