Annals Of Super Weird Ideas: This Attachment Turns Your Bike Into A Potter’s Wheel

Want a new vase or lampshade? Head out for a ride and you’ll whip one up in a snap, on this miniature factory mounted to your front wheel.

When U.K.-based designer Mark Colliass needs a new lampshade or plant pot, instead of heading to Ikea, he goes for a bike ride. The 23-year-old student turned the front wheel of his bike into a makeshift potter’s wheel that can spin out a perfectly made product after about 40 minutes of riding on the street.


For Colliass, the project is an experiment in giving consumers a personal connection to a product so they won’t want to throw it away. “We can get stuff so easily that we don’t really have any attachment to it–we can look online, buy something, and a couple of days later we’ve got it in the post,” Colliass says. “Because it’s so easy to get, people aren’t afraid to throw it away if it later breaks. It doesn’t mean anything to them.”

The miniature bike factory takes effort and feels like a personal creation, making something like simple lampshade a little more meaningful. “The feeling of taking the lampshade out of the mold is the best experience, when you realize it has worked,” Colliass explains.

Since it works like a potter’s wheel, the technique can only be used to make a limited number of products. “You can make vases, vessels, pots, and that kind of thing,” Colliass says. Users pour resin into a mold, hook the mold up to their bike, and as they ride, the resin spins itself into a cylinder through centrifugal force. If someone takes a newly made product for another bike ride, it can add another layer of color.

For now, Colliass has only made one version of the bike attachment as part of his master’s course at Nottingham Trent University. But he says the design could easily become adjustable so it could fit on anyone’s handlebars.

It’s not the most practical way to make a lampshade, but it is fun, and Colliass thinks that’s one way to motivate people to actually make something themselves. “People need to reconnect with products and one of the best ways to do that is to involve them in the manufacturing process,” he says. “This wouldn’t appeal to the average person unless it was an enjoyable and unique process.”

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.