Monday, November 30, 2015

I Use Bicycles in All of My Decorating. . .

Some people just can't get enough of their bicycles.

(photos from
From a pair of custom furniture makers in Britain comes a chair that only a cyclist could love. The firm Two Makers, comprised of Andrew McDonald and Simon Taylor, have built a chair that combines traditional bicycle framebuilding techniques and materials into a rocker dubbed the Randonneur Chair.

Built from Reynolds 631 steel tubing, and using a combination of fillet-brazing and actual bicycle lugs, as well as fine saddle leather from Brooks of England, the Randonneur Chair even includes a "tool bag" and a pair of bottle cages. From some angles, the chair almost resembles a pair of bicycle frames, complete with drop bars, conjoined by a big hammock-like expanse of leather.

The result is sort of a modernist-meets-craftsman interpretation of a classic rocking chair, skewed through the perspective of a bicycle constructeur. Some websites are calling it "beautiful, deceptively light, and highly functional."

Notice the leather "tool bag" behind the seat. A good place to keep the T.V. remote?
On the Two Makers site, they quote Antonio Colombo, President of Columbus Tubing and Cinelli Bicycles, saying, "The best bike chair I've seen in forty years."

The finish on this example lets a person get a good look at the construction methods.
And yes, the "handlebars" are wrapped with Brooks leather bar-wrap.

I can't decide if the Randonneur Chair is really cool, or overindulgent ridiculousness. What I do know is that I can't afford one. It's definitely one of those "If you have to ask. . ." propositions. According to the site, the price is available "upon application." Jeezus, you have to apply for ownership? I have a feeling my application would be rejected.

It's interesting that the makers of the chair used a quote from Antonio Colombo -- not just because they used competitor Reynolds tubing in the chair -- but because Colombo might actually know a thing or two about furniture design. Little known fact about his family company, but back in the 1930s, the A.L. Colombo company used to make modernist-styled steel-tubed furniture, like this chair from one of their old advertisements.

Was that made from Columbus SL, SP, or SLX?

Even apart from the Columbus past in furniture design, there have been others to dabble in bicycle-themed furniture. Like Scarabike in Japan, who came up with this Brooks Saddle Sofa a few years ago:

I love a good Brooks B17 as much as a person can, but this thing looks crazy uncomfortable.

And doing a quick search online, I've found numerous examples of people mounting Brooks saddles on top of stools. Here's one from Freshome:

Here somebody grafted a heavily sprung Brooks B135 saddle onto a stool from IKEA.
Again, I think a Brooks leather saddle is about as good as it gets on a bicycle -- but I'm not sure it would make the best perch for a barstool. Maybe I'm wrong.

I just don't know. I love bikes. I have bikes hanging on the walls in my classroom. I'd have them hanging on the walls in my house, too, if my wife would let me. But does this stuff just go too far? Any thoughts?


  1. That couch has ~$6500 in saddles alone, and I doubt you could even take a proper nap on it.

    I've seen pictures of that rocking chair before, and it strikes me that the proportions of it are wrong. The back seems too low vs. the depth of the seat. You'd be "sprawled" across it, and that wouldn't be comfortable for rocking.

    I do kind of like the look of all of the pieces, though. I like whimsical furniture, and bonus points for being bike-related.


  2. My guess is that the rocker is uncomfortable; no upper back support.

  3. Nothing wrong with a conversation piece. I like the rocker best.

    1. The rocker is interesting, but I have a feeling that it's a conversation piece for the extremely wealthy.

    2. Wealthy folks who don't care about comfort—that goes without saying. The irony is that the rocker might function best (as a rocker) made out of hi-ten.

  4. I've seen the sofa and bar stool before. The frame chair is something I'd buy for its looks if I had the money.

    It was interesting to read about Antonio Colombo's history. Thanks for doing the research.


    H-m-m, by size of this headtube, the frame should be somewhere in 53 cm neighborhood, too low for me. If they will make it in 60 cm size, wake me up.

  6. When I was at the Indianapolis Museum of Art recently, I noticed they had a similar stool in the Contemporary Design Collection.

    1. For some reason, a tripod design feels more in keeping with a Brooks's retro aesthetic, whereas this design seems like a mixed metaphor to me, and disturbingly like a fetish object of a different sort. Maybe a Selle Italia Flite for this one? In any event, I had a spare Brooks knocking around and I experimented with stools. It wasn't bad; quite pleasant, actually. Definitely for some task-specific application, if you leaned back into it with legs mostly extended and feet planted on floor, to mimic somewhat the position for which the saddle was designed. I haven't had luck with Brooks saddles on actual bikes, though.