It seemed only natural to say yes when my friend and bike-riding partner, Ilan Dei, asked me to curate a design exhibition at his pop up retail shop focused on human-powered movement.
Ilan is a Venice-based furniture and environment designer. We share similar passions and run in the same professional circles. We’ve been riding buddies for 20 years, and for a long time we’ve wanted to collaborate on something. This seemed like an opportune time to finally do it.
We decided to bring design to the streets, sourcing the most innovative “people-powered” products designed and or manufactured in SoCal and highlighting them in Ilan’s pop up store on Abbot Kinney Blvd., where crowds perusing this strip of funky high-end shops and gourmet restaurants could wander in to view a colorful collection of products all available for purchase.
Our goal was twofold: to educate people about the innovative design happening here in our hometown, and to improve the health of our community. With that, we came up with the name “Moving LA: People-Powered Design.”
The double entendre encapsulated everything we wanted the exhibition to be about: the people of LA are physically moving about/around with the products on display, and LA moves us, or inspires us, to create and design.
Focusing the exhibition on physical movement was a perfect connection to my personal passion, as well as to Karten Design. My consultancy has been innovating in the health care industry for over 28 years, creating products that meaningfully improve people’s health experience.
The products on display at Ilan’s store are designed to get people moving across or in Los Angeles, from bikes and skateboards to hula-hoops and yoga equipment. They engage people to physically move and be active in their bodies and in their communities as they enjoy a healthy lifestyle. At Karten Design, my team and I are made aware every day through our work that not everyone has his or her health. To further promote wellness in our local community, Ilan and I decided to dedicate a portion of the proceeds from the exhibition to the Venice Family Clinic – a community health clinic that provides affordable, quality health care to 24,000 low-income, uninsured, and homeless patients each year – so they can help others operate a full power.
As a business owner and innovator, I also appreciate living and working in a hot bed of innovation. Los Angeles, where I’ve lived and worked for nearly 30 years, has deeply influenced my creativity, my perspective, and my mindset. The city is a hub for trends and groundbreaking ingenuity; it breeds freedom to create and innovate unlike anywhere else.
It wasn’t difficult to find fitness, health, and recreation products that are designed and manufactured in Southern California. This place is an incubator for innovation, particularly in these categories. Our temperate year-round climate and miles of beaches and mountain paths as well as the athletic community our environment has fostered drive creativity and ingenuity.
Over the past month, I’ve enjoyed learning about and meeting local, leading innovators who are creating positive experiences for active people. The common narrative, I learned, amongst these innovators is that they turned their hobby or passion or an experience they were missing into a business. The advantage with having this kind of story is that they are true insiders; they are incredibly in touch with their users and the values of their communities. In turn, they create meaningful, useful products that they themselves need and want to use. Some who participated in the exhibition even created new experiences through their products, such as surfskating and elliptical cycling.
The products we selected not only keep us active and introduce new functionalities, but they also look good. As seen in this design exhibition, Southern California innovators have combined the best of functional and aesthetic innovation; these are the kinds of creative thinkers powering LA.
To read more about the inspiration behind the exhibition and the innovation that came from local companies, check out the featured coverage in LA Weekly.
And thank you to all the companies who participated: Arbor Collective, Athletic Propulsion Labs, Carver Skateboards, ElliptiGo, Ellsworth, Hoopnotica, IntelliSkin, Loaded Boards, Malibu Kayaks, Poseidon Boards, Predator Cycling, Quickblade Paddles, Scott Anderson Surfboards, Sip N’Go, Valo Brand, and yogitoes.