11 November 2009

DESIGNER BIKES: Matthew Burger

Matthew Burger, Chair of Industrial Design at Pratt Institute, has one of the finest bikes on campus. A bit of his biography… In 22 years Matthew Burger has developed concepts & products in a number of areas including transportation, consumer products, graphics & furniture with consulting studios, manufacturers, & a government agency. He has a B.I.D. from Pratt Institute & graduate studies in Visual Communication at Hochschule für Kunst & Gestaltung in Basel, Switzerland. But only recently did I learn about Visual Syntax - where he posts on design and education along side his photography. And he loves bicycles.

A couple weeks back I talked shop with Matthew...

German bike tag / two bells, each with their own unique ring
St. Christopher charm below generator lamp / saddlebag from the Netherlands

It is hard not to miss your beautifully equipped bicycle on campus!
Students are always checking out what pen I use, what style shoes I’m wearing… but, recently, when they see me with my bike – “it’s all about the bike”. Can you pinpoint the time you got into bikes? It was 1985 watching the cyclists doing loops in Prospect Park. It was so inspiring, I got an old 10 speed Fuji followed by a brand new 15 speed mountain bike which were “all the rage” at the time. The mountain bike was stolen in seconds - at the intersection of 7th Avenue and Christopher street. Stepped into a store, and it was gone. (Lesson learned. He got an identical replacement immediately afterwards – insurance covered it!)
What are your currently commuting on?
I have a classic Amsterdam style bike made by an American company - outfitted with new equipment. I had been riding a traditional Dutch “Oma” grandmother style bike with oversized 28” wheels, fully closed drive train, and fabric skirt guard - which I gave to a fellow faculty member.

What has been your longest bike commute?
In Boston, a 40 minute ride each way. Though it was partly long due to taking the scenic route along the Charles River and through Fenway Park.
What do you love most about bikes?
The mechanics of a bike. It is easy to be very hands on with a bike and access the components.
How was living in Switzerland as a cyclist?
The Swiss love bikes. You see everyone on bikes… good looking professional men including lawyers and doctors commuting by bike. They are also very well equip with fenders, lights and bells.
You used to have a basement full of bikes?!
When living in Somerville (next to Cambridge, just outside of Boston), I was surrounded by transient college students. I would collect bikes and parts abandoned on the street, keep them in my basement, and once a year filled the back of a pick-up truck and donate them to Bikes Not Bombs – who would then deliver them to Latin America and Africa.

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