Last summer while we were in California for our Los Angeles Summer Market we had the opportunity to stop by the Biken studio to visit with Ken Sugimoto and learn more about his products and his craft.
I have been an industrial designer for about 20 years. In this full-time job, I have been designing products for a lot of client companies, however, not for direct users. I have always wanted to make things that I wish existed and sell them directly to the customers. Meanwhile, I sometimes come up with product ideas when I am biking and thinking about bikes. Eventually I decided to try making bike accessories.
At first, I thought about making the products with materials like metals and plastics. But I really wanted a way to realize my ideas more directly and quickly, so I got a sewing machine. That was 3 years ago. I named my shop Biken, from Bike + my name “Ken”. After signing up for some shows like bike events, I participated in Chicago Renegade last December. That was Biken’s first Renegade.
I think one of the key features of Biken products is ingenuity. All the time I love thinking about the functions and the products that I wish for. I feel a strong attraction to functional products. I am always keeping in mind the idea of incorporating some features and innovations that are user-friendly into the simple design. Biken’s concept is to create products that can go from riding around town, to a cafe, or even to work.
Everything around me inspires me, not any paticular type of thing. I’m inspired even when I’m not riding.
The materials are chosen carefully for that concept. To realize my idea, I always look for materials from various fields. For example, the rivets on the messenger bag are primarily automotive brake rivets. Besides, I sometimes make the parts for the products by myself if I can’t find them.
I am constantly thinking of the best ways to create the things that I myself would love to have and use. I’ll be happy if people who use Biken products feel the same way.
Thank you, Ken for hosting us at your studio and talking about your craft. You can see the full set of images in our new Studio Visits album on Flickr. Biken will be showcasing their bicycle accessories and clothing to our San Francisco November Market next weekend at the Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion. We can’t wait to see you all there!