In a bid to shake up the city landscape, Canadian industrial design firm The Federal have created an alternative to the rigid, and often unattractive, steel bicycle racks, with a flexible looped rubber design.

Set up in Ottawa in 2012, The Federal was borne out of its founders’ desire to explore alternative views and aspects of industrial design. It has certainly done that with its latest product, the Loop, which is a far cry from traditional bicycle racks.

“Loop is a great solution for several reasons: its flexible, soft materials means that it won’t scratch your bike or car door, the flexibility offers many potential and customised forms for developers, and it helps add an element of surprise and fun to the streets and parks,” says Ian Murchison, The Federal’s co-founder and industrial designer.

The industrial design process began with the simple question: How do you bring these everyday street objects to life? In exploring an answer the designers wondered what they could come up with if they had to use a new material – say, flexible rubber instead of the traditional cold powder-coated steel.

The solution they devised was simple – a loop-shaped design made of thick rubber that can be used in a variety of ways. “This concept gives way to many layout and form possibilities for an object that it typically very straightforward,” adds Murchison.

The Federal insists that despite being flexible, the Loop is very safe as it’s made from a strong UV resistant rubber with a steel base that anchors into the surface, whether paving, tarmac or cement, and is consistent with current installation methods. Additionally, inside the structure there is a high-strength chain. As Murchison explains, this chain provides a backup security measure to slow thieves who may cut the rubber.

The Federal recently launched the Loop at the 2014 Interior Design Show in Toronto, where it was received optimistically by visitors. The industrial design firm now plan to turn the concept into reality and are keen to explore various shapes, colours and materials in different conditions.

“Our current development plans are to produce 10 to 20 units for real-world testing. We will offer these to anyone, at cost, in an effort to gain valuable feedback on the design performance in all elements,” says Murchison.

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