September 28th, 2015

On Oct 1st the neighborhood of Sandton — the second largest central business district in Johannesburg, South Africa — begins an incredible experiment. For the entire month of October select streets in Sandton will be entirely off-limits to cars.

It’s an experiment called the EcoMobility World Festival (ecomobility, meaning environmentally-friendly means of tranport like biking, walking and public transit) and the goal is to “showcase the potential for a neighborhood within a major world city to adopt an ecomobile lifestyle and experience its impact.”

For one month, a significant part of Johannesburg will become an example of a sustainable, environmentally-conscious city of the future could look like. This is music to our alternative transportation loving ears.

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Sandton is one of the most congested areas in Johannesburg with around 80,000 cars and more than 100,000 people moving within the neighborhood daily. No cars on these typically congested streets will be a big change for those who travel them daily and the idea is being viewed by residents with mixed emotions.

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The playful streets in Suwon during Ecomobility Festival 2013 via flickr

While the concept of car-free streets in Sandton is serious, the whole festival is intended to be a joyous one. It’s the opportunity for fun neighborhood interactions with pop-up parks, music and interactive exhibits featuring the opportunity to test out transportation options of the future.

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Image of Suwon via The Urban Idea

And Sandton is not alone in the car-free experiment. In 2013 the city of Suwon in South Korea undertook the same challenge (photo above). And in short, it worked. After the car-free month in Suwon, the city decided to lower the speed limit which reduced congestion, car parking was permanently removed from certain streets and sidewalks, and every month Suwon continues to host a car-free day.

The number of commuters in Sandton is growing by 3.4% per year and at that rapid rate traffic is projected to literally stop unless interventions are made. Hopefully this car-free experiment will change the mentality in Sandton and encourage people to think outside the car to make lasting improvements.

September 21st, 2015

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There’s something so satisfying about being able to carry everything you need to via your bike. In fact, we’d say it’s one of top reasons why biking is such a great way to get around. A bike that’s equipped with a rack and baskets will do all the heavy lifting for you, taking the weight off your back and shoulders. That’s why we are constantly on the hunt for handy ways to help you carry all you need via your bike and are excited to introduce you to a few of our new favorites.
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New Rack Baskets
The beautifully designed Bent Basket is the latest addition to our collection of bike rack baskets. The 100% Ash wood base of the basket is hydrolyic pressed with 2000 PSI (just like skateboards) so it’s clearly strong enough for everyday use. Integrated elastic straps can be configured multiple ways so your items will stay put. Available in Charcoal Grey and Salmon Red for $99.

The Bent Basket must be used with a bike rack like our PUBLIC Rear Rack.
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New Bike Racks
A solid front rack is great for accommodating flat as well as bulky objects. That’s why we created the PUBLIC Porteur Rack, based on classic French delivery cycles. This rack is now available in four new colors – Turquoise, Red, Powder Blue and Cream, as well as Black and Silver for $99 $129. This front rack is designed to perfectly accommodate our beautiful Peterboro Porteur Rack Basket.

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New Pannier Bags
Whether you’re looking for a go-to bike bag for grocery runs or something to get you through weekend touring rides our new bike pannier bags from Ortlieb are the best of all worlds. These bags are waterproof and clip easily and securely to any of our rear bike racks. The Bike Shopper Single Pannier is roomy enough to be your day-to-day commuter and grocery grabber and retails for $100. The Back Roller Plus Pannier Set includes two roomy panniers and is made of super-strong Cordura fabric. It retails for $220.

Both Ortlieb panniers must be used with a bike rack like our PUBLIC Rear Rack.

September 14th, 2015

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Since 2013, 28-year-old librarian Alicia Tapia has been loading up her custom built bike trailer filled with books and pedaling it through the streets of San Francisco by bicycle. She stops in Golden Gate park and sets up a tiny library where she gives out the books to children and adults for free.

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Her pedal-powered library is called Bibliobicicleta and her mission is to spread the love of reading books and riding bikes. Tapia says, “Our goal is to get people to stop in the middle of their busy days to open a book and let their mind ease. An enthusiasm for books is highly contagious. We model reading for our children so that they can pass that on.”

We’re excited to be a part of Tapia’s movement through her current Kickstarter to raise funds for an electric bike that will allow her to extend the reach of Bibliobicicleta.

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Tapia and Bibliobicicleta are part of a growing movement. Bicycle bookmobiles pedaled by librarians are popping up all over the country. There seems to be a natural pairing in these two analog methods of exploring and seeing the world. Pedal powered librarian, Jared Mills of Seattle’s Books on Bikes mobile library program writes, “There is something about seeing a librarian on a bike that brings a smile to people’s face. It is amazing how a librarian can just sit down and start reading a book and kids will just flock.”

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Karen Green started Tucson’s Riding to Reading program with one bike and the a big dream. “My dream is really world domination by book bike, but I will start in Tucson,” says Green.

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Bike bookmobiles create the opportunity for community connection. Regardless of age, gender, income anyone can peruse and borrow a book from these libraries. With Bibliobicicleta, Tapia has never bought one of the books that she displays on her shelves. Anyone can donate a gently used or brand new one. “Often times someone will drop off a book and minutes later someone else will roll by and pick it up. Some times the book donator and the book borrower will meet and get to talk about why they love the book. It’s a really awesome thing to witness,” says Tapia.

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In addition to creating that opportunity for community connection, these bike bookmobiles also do the obvious, promote literacy. Says Tapia, “The first time I took it out, this little girl walked by and said, ‘That is the prettiest bookshelf I’ve ever seen.’ That made it all worthwhile. By seeing this crazy bookshelf, that kid is going to think that reading is something that’s important—reading is something cool.”

And it is.

Bibliobicicleta images courtesy of www.bibliobicicleta.com.

September 3rd, 2015

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With a rack or basket on your bike you can carry just about everything, like your groceries, backpack and, yes, your lovable, four-legged friend.

In these final, dog days of summer we thought it would be fun to share a few of our favorite snaps from this year of dogs being carried by bike. If you fancy more dog + bike cuteness head to our all things dog + bike tumblr, Paws & Pedals.

Thanks everyone for your great submissions and keep them coming. If you have a dog and a bike, take a picture and submit your photo and we’ll share it out on Paws & Pedals.

1. Darla, looking extra happy in her Peterboro Original Basket.

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Instagram @megkara

2. Larry the French is all smiles in his custom crate.

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Instagram @debzanncar

3. Lola the cutest pug is sitting pretty in the Luvelo X-Crate

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Instagram @laraakropp

4. Louie, the happy Pomeranian in our Peterboro Original Basket.

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Instagram @classy_girl03

5. The inimitable Buddy Boo with our PUBLIC Mini C Balance Bike in red.

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Instagram @buddyboowaggytails

September 2nd, 2015

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Happy couriers. Images via Pedal Express and missionmission.org.

Labor Day is our nation’s tribute to the contributions of workers around the country. So we wanted to take a moment and salute those who labor by bike. Be it bike messangers who haul packages and mail, pedicab drivers who steer people from point a to be or those incredible bike couriers who are able to get our pizza to us (still hot) and fresh flowers delivered on time to a special someone. We applaud this awesome pedal power and offer our high fives in the form of photos here.

Pizza Delivery

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Image by Pedal Express

Pedicab Driver

Image via flickr

Flower Delivery

Bike Contractor

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Image from Builder By Bike

Mail Messenger

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Image via flickr

Anything Delivery

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Image by Spencer A Brown

August 31st, 2015

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Bay Meadows, CA

According to the report “Millennials & Mobility” by the American Public Transit Association (APTA), 70% of adults under 35 use car-free modes of transportation several times per week and 33% of adults 35-45 want to use cars less. With more people choosing public transportation and bike commuting on the rise, it’s no surprise that residential housing developers are beginning to take notice and build more bike-friendly housing and neighborhoods.

Bay Meadows in San Mateo, CA

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Zeroing in on the fact more people are choosing alternative modes of transportation, housing developments are emphasizing more sustainable, space-efficient living through bikes. “Life in motion” is the tagline of Bay Meadows in San Mateo, CA. And in keeping with its slogan, many initial Bay Meadows residents receive a bicycle and are encouraged to use it for commuting to the nearby rail station and throughout the community.

The Shipyard in San Francisco, CA

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San Francisco Shipyard is another example of a development that’s working hard to promote a more communiity-based lifestyle through bikes. This brand new development offers a bike to all new residents in an effort to create “a place of fewer cars and more neighbors chatting on tree-lined streets… with bike lanes and miles of trails to help people stay active and thriving.”

Via 6 in Seattle, WA and ecoFLATS in Portland, OR

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Car parking takes up a lot of space and comes at a high-cost to developers. In high-density urban areas bikes are extremely efficient space-wise and come at a much lower developer cost. Cities such as Seattle and Portland boast unique highly bike-centric developments. Via6 in Seattle is a 654-unit mixed-use apartment that offers secure bicycle parking and a bike wash station for residents, plus a bike shop on the ground floor. ecoFLATS in Portland offers indoor bike storage (shown above), as well as 75 outdoor bike parking spots for residents. Plus, it’s a net zero building “meaning it generates all of the energy consumed.”

Providing bikes to new homeowners is more than just a nice perk and an effort to be more sustainable. It’s indicative of a bigger shift in addressing the transportation needs of urban-oriented residents.

August 24th, 2015

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PROXY / Photo by envelope A+D

Before PROXY, 2006 / Photo By Matt Baume

Public streets account for as much as a third of land in a city.  They have often been viewed as more of a domain for cars rather than people, sadly. But progressive cities around the world are repurposing these spaces into places for people, conversation, food and play. Some examples that we’ve written about before are New York City’s inspiring High Line  and Times Square Plazas (that we hope stay that way).

Another example located just near our PUBLIC Hayes Valley Shop is PROXY, an urban pop-up space that combines retail, food, art installations and outdoor events, in a plot of land that till PROXY was a parking lot and 20 years prior engulfed under the shadow of the Central Freeway.

We interview Douglas Burnham, founder of envelope A+D the design group that envisioned PROXY to learn more about how public spaces can be transformed into a dynamic places for interaction.

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PROXY / Photo by envelope A+D

PUBLIC: The importance of reclaiming public space as walkable, livable and community-based are some of the founding principles of PUBLIC. Your team takes a similar approach with your projects—using architecture to create an immersive environment that transforms people’s experience with a space. Our flagship store in Hayes Valley is nearby one such of your projects, PROXY. Please talk to us about the PROXY project.

DOUGLAS: PROXY is a temporary two-block project located on lots that were left vacant after the removal of the 101 Central Freeway. In 2010, we responded to a request from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (OEWD) for interim uses on the Octavia Boulevard vacant lots. However, as we kept getting enthusiastic green lights from the city and the neighborhood, we quickly realized that we would need to figure out a way to make PROXY a financially viable project before we got carried away with soaring plans removed from reality.

People often don’t realize that while the space is publicly accessible, the project is privately funded and managed by our office. We act as the developer, fundraiser and steward of the two lots. We’ve spent the last several years taking enormous risks and grinding away to resolve issues that are inherent to experimenting live in the city without a safety net. It’s been an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience for the entire office.

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PROXY / Rendering by envelope A+D

In proposing the project, our goal was to create a concentrated, constantly changing experience of both culture and commerce in a zone that was previously invisible—a perceptual void—in peoples’ experiences. PROXY was conceived as a placeholder for a more permanent development—these lots will eventually be built with both market rate and below market rate housing. Our lease on the larger lot runs through 2020 and we are in the process of extending the lease end date through 2020 on the smaller Biergarten site as well.

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PROXY / Photo by Anne Hamersky

PROXY has established an emerging model of urban planning that demonstrates how recasting seemingly insignificant, underused urban spaces using temporary interventions can quickly and effectively transform portions of the city into thriving centers of ingenuity and fun. Though Hayes Valley was in the midst of a renaissance that had begun in the early 1990s with the neighbor-led push to remove the freeway, PROXY has helped to reinvigorate the neighborhood after the long economic downturn that lingered after the 2008 Stock Market crash.

Everything we do at PROXY is guided by our motto “HERE FOR NOW”. The world is always changing, so a healthy city needs to be able to adapt quickly and smartly to the circumstances at hand. The motto speaks to our goals for inhabiting the city as residents and is a call to action. By creating a vibrant mix of culture and commerce, we hope to encourage engagement with the city and the present moment in a heightened way.

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PROXY / Photo by envelope A+D

On the commerce side, one important aspect of PROXY is its role as an incubator of micro-enterprise. Aether, Smitten, Biergarten, Basic Training, and SOSF all had their first physical brick-and-mortar (or steel-and-glass) spaces here and have really grown their businesses out of their initial presence at PROXY. Ritual and JuiceShop have also benefitted from the pedestrian-friendly open-air experience that PROXY has created. The vendors at PROXY have come to be our cohorts in an urban experiment of temporary activation. They have taken risks alongside us in making a go of it in small spaces on a limited timeline.

On the culture side, we have had many different art installations at PROXY, from the now-concealed “BRIGHTERFASTER” mural by Ben Eine, to installations by the Museum of Craft and Design and the Hayes Valley Arts Coalition. Our next foray into cultural production at PROXY is the realization of an outdoor movie and live music venue in the asphalt plaza area at the heart of PROXY. We ran a Kickstarter campaign this summer to raise enough money to complete the movie screen and purchase an outdoor-rated digital projector and sound system. We didn’t end up making our goal—and therefore didn’t get the pledges—but the campaign generated a significant amount of interest in the project and we were able to harvest enough donations to complete the screen (which is underway right now).

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PROXY / Photo by envelope A+D

Ever the optimists, we are planning to do a scrappier version of a Fall Film Festival on the first four Fridays in October. The PROXY walk-in movie theater will be a place where everyone will be able to share in the experience of watching a movie with their neighbors in the open air. We’re still looking for donations — all of which our tax deductible through our 501c3 nonprofit HERE FOR NOW. (Go to HEREFORNOWsf.org to support our efforts to bring free outdoor movies to San Francisco!)

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Superkilen / Photo by Superflex

PUBLIC: What are some of your favorite, inspiring examples of reinterpreted public spaces? (Like the High Line in NYC, for example.)

DOUGLAS:  The High Line, of course, is the premiere example that everyone knows about. Yet, on my recent vacation I was lucky to be able to visit Superkilen—a new linear park in Copenhagen (being made famous enough from the iPhone photo of the glorious ribbons of white lines on asphalt that cover a portion of the park). Superkilen is really great because it operates right at street level and has amenities that are for the people that live right there — places to play chess, informally gather, play, skate, skateboard, swing and box (yes, there’s a boxing ring!). The design is more “pop” than the High Line and appropriately so as it serves the local residents in their daily lives in an economically diverse section of Copenhagen. There is a high degree of joyful invention that encourages play, social interaction, as well as safe passage through the park.

This kind of community-serving linear park is what we’re hoping to do with our transformation of the waterfront edge at the Hunters Point Shoreline. In NOW_Hunters Point we are transforming the site of a former PG&E power plant using strategies similar to those of PROXY. There, the process of engaging the neighborhood is more robust. Our team is actively prototyping possible interim uses that are tested though events. Working with Studio O, RHAA and John Greenlee & Associates, we are creating a string of several gathering zones for learning, playing and contemplation of the natural beauty on the Bay’s edge. This enhanced public access amenity is part of the transformation of the former power plant site and is taking a narrow existing access zone, widening it to roughly one-hundred feet, and threading a wider Blue-Greenway standard combined bicycle and pedestrian path through an enhanced landscape of grasses, flowers, trees and coastal shrubs. The layered history of inhabitation of the site, including the history of the power plant and its removal initiated through direct action of the Hunters Point residents, will be legible through didactic elements distributed along the path. The goal of the project is to support access to the Hunters Point Shoreline by the residents of Hunters Point as well as being a part of a system of regional open space that encourages the experience of the Bay and celebrates the specific history of the site.

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High Line / Photo by David Berkowitz

PUBLIC: How can the average person help to support projects that work to make public spaces more livable?

DOUGLAS:  Our wider goal for PROXY and for future project is to truly empower people to take a piece of the city, to become a steward of that place and to change it through direct action. Sure, it helps that we are architects doing this work, but we are also inventing so many things beyond our training and standard roles as architects. Because of this, I know that it really just takes passion combined with a vision of how something—your street, a neighborhood park, a vacant lot, a whole sector of the city—can be not just better, but can be something great. Mostly, it just takes knowing that you can make a difference and a certain amount of tenacity.

The guys that came up with the idea for the High Line were just people who cared about something that they saw as a treasure (and that other people, city officials included, saw as a blight to be erased). They applied the skills that they had, in both persuasion and finance, to rally their neighborhood behind their vision for a raised linear park 40 feet above the street. Their action, their risk, their initiative has literally transformed that sector of New York City into a thriving hub for both residents and tourists. Who would have thought?

We are inspired by citizens who act upon the cities where they live and we hope that our work also inspires people to take their own actions to contribute to the health and vibrancy of the city.

August 14th, 2015

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PUBLIC is expanding in many ways and shapes. We’re looking for short or long term partnerships with merchants and creative retail spaces, especially those located in California and the Western states, but we’ll consider other major cities in the U.S. If you are a potential partner or know of one, send an email over to  partner@publicbikes.com.

Below are a few examples of successful partnerships we have now or have had in the past.

PUBLIC SHOWROOM COLOCATED WITH A PARTNER

Earlier this summer we set up a showroom in Portland inside a building co-occupied by apparel company Marine Layer. We were able to set up our showroom in roughly 800 square feet to showcase our bikes for customer test riding. We’d love to set up other showrooms around the country in 800-1,200 square feet spaces in popular retail corridors fronting bike-friendly streets.

FULL PUBLIC STORE COLOCATED WITH A PARTNER

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One of our longest pop-up shops was in Harrington Galleries, a boutique furniture and antique shop in San Francisco. We subleased 1,200 square feet of retail space to operate a full PUBLIC retail store.

SHORT TERM POP-UP PARTNER COLOCATED WITHIN A PUBLIC STORE

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In the past we partnered with coffee company Saint Frank Coffee, who ran a pop-up shop outside one of our former locations and recently with espresso machine manufacturer La Marzocco who set up a pop-up shop over one weekend in our PUBLIC Hayes Valley store. Our retail locations in San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Oakland could serve as short-term pop-up opportunities for indie designers and other small businesses looking for exposure.

VISUAL MERCHANDISE PARTNER

Currently our bikes are featured in select Banana Republic stores as part of their Fall campaign, What Moves You? For their Fall collection, Banana Republic took inspiration from Amsterdam and our dutch-style, step-through bikes were a natural fit.

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We have also partnered with GAP during the holiday season for a temporary PUBLIC Bikes holiday pop-up shop in one of their flagship stores. This pop-up served as a showroom to showcase our bikes.

Please share this post out with potential partners or drop us a line directly at partner@publicbikes.com.

July 29th, 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJjZiv-RirI

You talked. We listened. You wanted a lighter, sportier bike for commuting, fitness and everyday errands. You wanted more gears for tackling the hills and trigger shifters for responsive shifting right at your finger tips.

Meet our new PUBLIC R16 flat bar city road bike – built to give you just what you want in a bike. It’s nimble, light-weight and packed with 16-speeds to power you up the hills and down them. The new PUBLIC R16 is a reimagined version of its drop bar predecessor with a modern, slightly curved flat bar and Shimano Claris Rapidfire trigger shifters. We’ve included fenders for when it gets wet, slender city-ready tires and a comfortable city saddle and grips. It’s also available at the special price of $699 $899

Our PUBLIC R16 has received a lot of positive feedback already, but don’t just take our word for it. Check out the above video to see just what makes this bike great for city riding and everything else.

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July 27th, 2015

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Vibrant, emotion-packed color? We applaud. Creative use of public space? We rejoice. Here at PUBLIC you can be sure that if someone or something is making an statement with color in a clever and impactful way we take notice. Those reasons made it inevitable that our paths should cross with architect, designer and fashion maven, Monling Lee — who creates vivid, color blocking photography in and around her hometown city of Washington DC.

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We discovered Monling Lee when we came across this article “Washington DC: Discover Under The Radar Public Spaces With Fashion Maven Monling Lee“. Monling generously said yes to an interview and we jumped at the chance to pick her brain about all things color and design related.

PUBLIC: As an architectural/urban designer you are constantly called upon to come up with new ideas and solutions for creative problems. Where do you find inspiration?

Monling: As an architectural and urban designer, I am constantly looking towards the built environment and the myriad ways citizens engage with it for inspiration. Take Washington, D.C., a city where I reside, for instance. It is a city full of well-known historic monuments and French-inspired public spaces that often have an overtly formal connotation that discourages informal uses. The recent injection of a younger demographic to the District however, brings about a demand for social third spaces and a renewed energy to historic spaces that have previously been off-limits to contemporary interpretations. One extremely successful reuse of a historic space that is currently ongoing is the National Building Museum’s Great Hall during its annual summer installation. The Beach, this summer’s installation designed by New York firm Snarkitecture, prompts thousands of diverse visitors every day to engage with this revered and often intimidating space in an unexpectedly gleeful way, which has been a joy to witness.

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PUBLIC: Your website, colorindex.us is overflowing with the most vibrant, color-blocked photography. Clearly, color and fashion are important to you. What inspires your color choices?

Monling: COLORINDEX is a means to explore and catalog the intersection of two of my interests—fashion and the built environment—through a highly colorful lens. The series began as an exercise on Instagram in 2012, as an informal visual blog capturing what I wear and what I see. Color combinations were selected from various color reference guides in the beginning, from which I would then match pieces from my wardrobe and moments in the built environment. With the launch of the website in late 2014, the production process has gradually evolved to require more effort in planning and execution. The process of developing color combinations, however, has become less clinical and more intuitive. Anything can prompt the beginning of a color story, including seasons, narrative angles, a beloved piece of clothing, or a newly discovered space.

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PUBLIC: You’re a pro at creating tableaus of colors. How do you come up with your color compositions on COLORINDEX? Do you start with an inspiring setting? Or an outfit?

Monling: The beginning of a color story can be inspired by anything that I find compelling for the project: a particularly interesting moment in an urban landscape, a fun piece of clothing in a vibrant hue, or more likely, the partnering product being featured. While the starting points are usually more direct and intuitive, developing the compositions requires more careful study by going through a mental and digital catalog of colorful spaces in the city, consulting various color guides when necessary, and sketching out various looks and scenes until the desired color balance is achieved.

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PUBLIC: What’s your favorite color at the moment?

Monling: I have always had an affinity towards very bright colors, and usually would set one highly saturated color against three or four other colors of equal strength to maximize their combined visual effects. Like wearing a superhero costume, my mood can be instantly lifted when wearing an exceptionally colorful outfit. Lately though, I have come to find seasonal and foliage changes in DC streets to be great sources of inspiration, and have started to appreciate quieter colors for their subtlety and range. Colors like dusty rose, light blue, sage, or pale yellow are great neutral alternatives for they still retain very specific color personalities even when saturation levels are dialed way back.

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PUBLIC: Out of all our bikes, you selected the PUBLIC C7 in Limited Edition Peach. What drew you to that color?

Monling: PUBLIC C7 comes in many fresh and delicious colors, but selecting the Limited Edition Peach was a quick choice. I have always favored variations on the color orange, which is a brilliant hue that is also fairly gender-neutral. The Limited Edition Peach, however, has a bit of pink understone, making it just slightly more feminine and a great color for summer!

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PUBLIC: Any upcoming projects/partnerships you are excited about?

Monling: It has been really great working with and getting to know companies with compelling and compatible products such as PUBLIC. Going forward, I will continue to collaborate with both small and established apparel and accessories brands in this current editorial photography format. While I love to create visual narratives through color stories, my longer term goal is to collaborate with brands as early as the product design and development stages. After all, I am a designer by training and trade!