Tag Archives: Conscious Commuter

LEAP Day 2: Designing strategies for the future of social impact design careers.

Overhead view of a LEAP design storm. Photograph by Dice Yamaguchi

Overhead view of a LEAP design storm. Photograph by Dice Yamaguchi

This is the second in our three-part Dotted Line series covering “The New Professional Frontier in Design for Social Innovation: LEAP Symposium,” hosted by Art Center College of Design Sept. 19–21, 2013.

LEAP’s Day One established the event’s tone, methodology, purpose and goals as well as a set of burning questions facing the field of social impact design professional pathways. The following morning, participants arrived eager to drill down into the issues that arose during the previous day’s workshops.  Leap’s faculty team of facilitators and student teaching assistants were ready to continue guiding the second day of collaborative ideation sessions.  Leap’s core programming team which included Karen Hofmann, Sherry Hoffman and Heidrun Mumper-Drumm, had mapped out a programming flow for these charrettes based on Art Center’s tried and true Design Storm methodology, which enabled intense collaborative study, brainstorming, and problem solving throughout the day.

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Creativity 101: Harnessing the power of students’ imaginations

Photographs by Chris Hatcher, PHOT '05

Photographs by Chris Hatcher, PHOT ’05

In 30 minutes, visualize your creative process and recreate it using an 8-and-a-half-by-11 sheet of paper.

This is the first assignment in Creative Strategies, a popular undergraduate Product Design course taught by instructor Fridolin “Frido” Beisert PROD 98, INDU 08, faculty director of Art Center’s Product Design Department.

All 14 students accept the challenge. Walking to the front of the classroom, they each select a single sheet of colored construction paper and take a seat along the row of bare metal tables. As a digital timer, projected onto the wall, starts ticking, the students immediately start cutting, tearing, folding and drawing.

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Conscious Commuter mobilizes an e-bike revolution at The Design Accelerator

Gabriel Wartofsky with his electric bike at the Environmental Media Awards

Gabriel Wartofsky with his electric bike at the Environmental Media Awards.

When entrepreneurial inspiration strikes, it’s often described as the convergence of creative and commercial instincts. An innovator perceives a void in the marketplace and conceives a product or experience to fill that space and drive demand for more. But for Gabriel Wartofsky and Bob Vander Woude, that well-worn path into the startup trenches has been less clear-cut.

The partners have spent the past two years developing Conscious Commuter, a company built around an electric bicycle with a sleek design and long-range battery. However the whole enterprise is driven by nothing short of a mission to revolutionize transportation.“We’re solution providers,” declares Vander Woude, an entrepreneur and CEO of a seed-stage investment fund, who was looking to fund an electric bike company when he happened upon a web demo of Wartofsky’s senior thesis project, now the basis for their partnership, which aims to implement e-bike sharing systems in cities around the world. “We’re multi-modal. That’s the secret sauce. Other electric bike companies are not coming from the background of solving a social problem. They’re just motivated to get to a retailer and make money.”

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Alums compete for potential $25,000 prize in Lexus Ignition Project

From left: Conscious Commuter and SpnKiX M

A pair of alums’ bike-like designs are competing to win up to $25,000 as part of the Lexus Ignition Project.

Conscious Commuter, co-founded by Gabriel Wartofsky, and spnKiX, co-founded by Peter Treadway, are finalists in the online contest. Users can vote via Facebook to determine which start-up project best blends “high-tech and high-style” and wins the funding.

Conscious Commuter — part bike, part scooter — is crafted from lightweight carbon fiber and features an electric motor with speeds of up to 20 mph.

SpnKiX M — a folding electric scooter — let’s riders sit or stand while traveling up to 15 mph, and has room for a basket and perhaps another passenger, at least according to the product’s video.

Users can cast their votes once per day Oct. 15 to 21.

The monthlong contest started Sept. 24 and pits a pair of similar products against each other each week with the fan favorite winning $25,000 to move into production.

Prior winners include UrbanFidelity Speakers, which mix artwork with eco-wood construction, and SolarPOP, a solar-powered charger for smart phones and tablets.

Which scooter would you buy? Vote here.

Kicking Things Off With Kickstarter

Transportation Design alum Gabriel Wartofsky has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to build his lightweight, compact, folding electric bike for commuters. (Plans are to launch his Conscious Commuter at Art Center later this year.) So far, backers have pledged $17,045 of his $25,000 goal needed to bring his bike to market. (The deadline to pledge is Sept. 29.) KCET just ran a story on Wartofsky—be sure to check it out.

Another project is currently on Kickstarter, this one created by a group of Art Center students for a class project. They are looking for funding to help them film and produce a short film inspired by an epic DC Comics vignette. The six-day shoot will take place throughout Pasadena with sets built from scratch at Art Center. Students leading the project are Domenic Moen (writer/director), Stephen Reedy (editor), Chris Saul (cinematographer) and Jake Viramontez (producer).

Check them out:

Alum’s Folding E-Bike: Will It Change Your Commute?

Many of us have been in the situation—you want to commute to work, but your local transit solutions don’t quite connect you from your home to office. There are a couple of miles between the stop and your destination. Who has time for a two-mile hike when you’re in a hurry?

Gabriel Wartofsky's Folding E-Bike

You give up and just get in your car and drive there.

Transportation Design alum Gabriel Wartofsky has a solution to this common problem: the folding electric bicycle. This sustainable personal mobility solution—which has the potential to help shape the future of commuting—is part of a system Wartofsky designed while a student at Art Center.

This lightweight folding e-bike, manufactured from recycled aluminum by smelters using hydro power in the U.S., is only a part of an integrated system that requires integration with futuristic thinking bus, rail and auto transportation manufacturers—many of whom are lead by Art Center alumni.

Director of Advanced Mobility Research at Art Center Geoff Wardle—the first advisory board member for Wartofsky’s newly formed Conscious Commuter Corporation—says that his product is the secret to solving the first- and last-mile commute problem.

Wartofsky’s folding e-bike is currently in prototype development, and a prototype is planned for display at an upcoming Transportation Design event at Art Center in September. He’s currently looking for strategic, go-to-market relationships with auto, rail and bus manufacturers—any businesses or individuals interested in assisting with the project can connect with him at gabriel.wartofsky@consciouscommuter.com.