I was dumbstruck on seeing the Shared Lady Beetle, both to the sweetness and rightness of the design, and to its kinship with the contemporary custom motorcycle scene.  Its hand-wrought wabi-sabi fabrication, emotionally evocative shape, and mobility make it kin to work by our favorite moto-artisans.  It could have been built in a motorcycle fabrication shop, but it wasn’t.  The ladybug-shaped mobile children’s book-share library by Beijing’s LUO Studio embodies a ‘do good work by doing right work’ design ethos that’s wholly missing from contemporary motorcycle culture.  Which begs the question: why aren’t we doing work like this?  The success of LUO Studio’s ladybug is an exit sign from the echo chamber of the custom scene, highlighting design possibilities not currently pursued in the motorcycle community.  We aren’t creating projects for children (or the mobility challenged, etc), or choosing to work with recycled materials, or addressing larger societal challenges, but we could be: our team is damned clever.

The Shared Lady Beetle in children’s share-library mode, with its wings open [Jin Weiqi]
The Shared Lady Beetle is built from scrap bicycle components, discarded building materials, and car panels, and was created in response to the mountains of confiscated share-app bikes, the heaps of metal waste created in Beijing, and the need for innovative mobility solutions.  The Shared Lady Beetle is a designed object, its structure developed in 3-D imaging software, as a solution to a specific problem: design a mobile ‘maker’s studio’ to replace a shopping cart for hauling tools to teach children.  In the design process, LUO Studio realized its mobile-carry nature could be adapted in many ways, and the shape (inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion car) was especially evocative to children, and its scale perfectly child-size.  Thus, it was adapted as a mobile library for children, who could exchange the books secured on its shelves, and reach neighborhoods not served by public libraries or bookmobiles.  LUO Studio deserves big props for creating a sophisticated design that doesn’t pander to children’s sensibilities (ie, no ladybug paint scheme), but stands as a brilliant example of possibility: the Lady Beetle could be fabricated anywhere, and, to a motorcyclist, suggests new avenues for exploration.  It’s a sweet rebuke for fabricators, and also, an inspiration for new avenues of design, for a totally new audience.

The lowest shelf acts as a simple shelf, strong enough to support a child reading, with the wing affording privacy and a sense of space [Jin Weiqi]
From the LUO Studio website:

Shared Lady Beetle — A Micro Movable Library for Kids

1. Reflection on “Sharing”

Though born from the good intention of resources conservation, green commuting and making life more convenient, shared bicycles are becoming “monsters” under the unbridled commercial sprawl. They have consumed plenty of industrial raw materials, encroached on scarce urban public space and been dumped in horrible piles. A large number of shared bicycles, without any quality problems, have been forced to “retirement”. Do we have any better solutions to handle this problem instead of recycling them in a simple and crude manner? As a designer living in the city, I have been thinking about the possibility for friendly reuse of those abandoned bikes.

The Lady Bird library in use [Jin Weiqi]
2. A Mobile Maker Classroom for Children

I have a friend who [is] specialized in maker education for children. He made some teaching props by himself, which often need to be moved in and out from his office. He usually tied those teaching materials to a grocery cart and wheeled it around the school to explain them to the children and parents. Having seen this, I wanted to create a small and ingenious storage cart to support his maker education for kids. By use of an abandoned bicycle, discarded iron car sheets, and leftover materials of eco-friendly boards, it was possible to make a mobile maker classroom for children. The goal was to make it creative, interesting and lively, and bring hope to reuse industrial waste in a natural and artistic way.

The hand-wrought shell was built from scrap auto panels source in Beijing’s junkyards, and was kept in a raw state to highlight its origin [Jin Weiqi]
The shared bicycle was transformed into a tricycle with large loading capacity, in order to display more items. To protect the items and avoid moving them repeatedly, we designed a special cover on the shelf, which drew inspirations from lady beetles, a type of beneficial insect that kids are familiar with. The way that lady beetles open and close wings was applied to the cover, appealing and creative. Because of the beetle-wings-shaped cover, the shelf needs to be relatively long. With a view to ensuring the stability of the tricycle, we added an auxiliary omni wheel to its end. For the enclosed inner space, a multi-layer display  structure was designed, which strengthens the whole installation and makes it more convenient to store items. From top to bottom, the layers gradually become larger in size, with the lowest one enabling kids to sit and lean on.

The Shared Lady Beetle is a designed object, worked out in 3-D design software before fabrication [LUO Studio]
3. A Micro Shared Library

Although it was originally designed to be a children’s mobile maker classroom, I also hoped to endow it with multiple functions. The interior space for displaying items are flexibly partitioned into several smaller storage areas by plates, which can be freely adjusted according to users’ needs. Besides, all the partitions can also be removed, through which  a complete big space will be formed. The installation can be customized based on different needs,  making it versatile and “universal”. For example, it can be used as a micro shared library, where second-hand books collected from my friends were arranged. Each friend provided one or more books, and they were invited to write a sentence on the books they shared. This tiny shared library can be placed in somewhere in the city. Everyone are allowed to read the books and put their idle books here to replace their loved one.

Shared bikes have been abandoned in cities. However, it brings promising possibility for book sharing.

Internal lighting makes possible an evening reading room [Jin Weiqi]
4. Shared Lady Beetle in the unknown city

Urban development constantly creates new things, which may bring hope or cause great disappointment. Facing the unknown development in the city, we should stay positive, strive to change waste into treasure and tackle changing situation responsively, so as to better take care of the city and the earth. The Shared Lady Beetle, is like a “beneficial insect” walking on the “urban leaf “, which can be used as a mobile library , a stall, or a maker classroom for kids, etc.

Or, it is merely well-meaning reflection on unknown urban development…

While human-powered, the notion of a more robust, electric-powered mobile library is clear [Jin Weiqi]
Designers: Luo Yujie, Lu Zhuojian

Size: 3180 x 3100 x 1400mm

Photographer: Jin Weiqi

Design time: December 2018

Completion time: March 2019

Instructions for construction: DIY. [Jin Weiqi]
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