Imre Verhoeven is one of Carqon’s designers and he tells us more about designing the Carqon Box. An interview.
How did you design the box of the Carqon?
‘In early 2018 we kicked off the design process for the box of the Carqon. The first lines were sketched on paper. That is often the case, we move fast in the beginning. We developed hundreds of sketches and ideas at a rapid pace. The entire process from A to Z took a total of two years. Designing the box alone took hundreds of hours. So we got off to a pretty fast start, but making sure every detail was perfect took a lot of time.
One thing was clear from day 1; Carqon had to be a complete, holistic design. So, all of the individual elements had to come together to form a single cargo bike. That means every millimetre had to be designed very precisely. A time-consuming job.
An essential step in the design process is the ‘why’. Why does Carqon exist? What kind of problem does it want to solve? Who are the target users? Answers to these questions should be reflected in the product’s design. We have often discussed this with our team.
Designing a cargo bike is a complex design task with many interdependent elements. For example, we are dealing not only with the weight and strength of the material, but also with the compatibility of the box in combination with future accessories and of course the look of the design is important. We made many aesthetic optimizations to achieve the end result.
A unique design aspect is the door in the box. Where did this inspiration come from?
This inspiration came from my own family life. With two young children and a cargo bike, I know from experience how practical a cargo bike is. The door in the Carqon is not only an eye-catcher, but also very functional. That is exactly what we wanted to achieve. Young children find it super cool that they get into their Carqon themselves and as a father I don’t have to lift my children into the cargo bike as often.
I am often inspired by simple everyday things. My home and my studio is a collection of homemade objects. A well-known designer from Nike once said: ‘My goal as a designer is not to express myself creatively, but to solve someone’s problems.’ That is absolutely true for Carqon. A beautiful design is important, but a cargo bike must also be super functional.
How many people were involved in this project?
The core team consisted of three designers and three product engineers. The last group is responsible for creating the CAD files. These are technical drawings. Suppliers often need these technical drawings to produce the actual parts and products. Every millimetre that is drawn incorrectly can affect the bicycle’s ease of use or handling. By testing and developing prototypes we prevent these kinds of errors. Of course, key figures from Team Carqon were also involved to provide feedback and share new insights.
What are the highlights for you within this process?
We thought it was important to get feedback from our potential target audience. That’s why we organized several feedback rounds in 2019. Using Virtual Reality, consumers could see a virtual sneak preview of the bicycle. Those were unique and educational moments. This VR tool was also used by Carqon at bicycle fairs to interest dealers in the product.
A year before the official launch of Carqon, Carqon won several prestigious awards. The design has won several awards, including the European Design Award and the German Design Award. It was a reward for the path we have taken.
Yet the biggest highlight is simpler. The best moment remains when I see a Carqon ‘in the wild’. That gives me the most satisfaction.