The landscape of the city changes over time to fulfill the needs of its people. There seems to be a global trend for meatpacking districts to evolve into creative and artistic zones – Copenhagen is no exception. Located in the middle of Kødbyen, ‘Butchers and Bicycles’ is a startup cargo bike company that perfectly sums up both location and product.
I recently sat down with the brand director of Butchers and Bicycles Jakob Munk to chat about the early days of the company and their design visions.
Who are the players at Butchers & Bicycles?
There are three of us, me (Jakob), Morten and Morten. The Mortens have a more technical approach to everything and they’ve been working with complex design for large companies like e.g. Vestas. I have a more interior design oriented background, I was the head of design for Menu A/S for seven years working with branding, design and marketing.
How did it all start?
Morten and Morten started the company three and a half years ago, they had a basic desire to make cargo bikes that were a joy to ride. The functionality of the traditional cargo bike sometimes compromises the way we ride it. They did this while working full-time jobs in Aarhus. Soon after they moved into the meatpacking district. It went from sketches to 3D models to complex 3D models (FEM calculations), once enough information was gathered they went into a small workshop and started prototyping. It was a real trial and error process in the beginning. I came on board soon after handling branding, communications and business strategies.
What’s it like designing in a group?
Teamwork is our backbone. I think at some point you have to chose whether you want to be an individual designer and face the consequences of that direction, or a group work type of designer that works in an environment with people using each other’s strength to create a better product. It’s really hard for a “group designer” to take on the individual role and vice versa. There’s no right or wrong, it’s simply a question of temperament and what type you are.
Can you take us through a part of the design process?
While making the frame for instance, we must look at every weld point. We study how e.g. welding bends the metal so we can take that into the next generation of our 3D [computer] model. Everything we learn from real life we reuse in the design process using [computer] simulated models, nothing is left to chance. That’s the only way to do it. I strongly believe that design isn’t purely aesthetic, it’s a fine balance between aesthetics and functionality.
Any words of wisdom for hatchling designers?
As a designer, one of the most important things is to get a basic understanding of a lot of different materials, constructions and components. But we don’t consider ourselves experts in anything; we have to call the experts. For example for [our] plastic parts we have a consultant who’s been working with that exact material and manufacturing process his whole life so we get a lot of expert knowledge from a guy like him. And that’s just just a few components. That being said it is very important to have a strong understanding of the basics such as construction and the physics behind it.
Be sure to drop by their workshop/showroom on Slagtehusgade 5A and take the MK1 out for a spin.