Bicycles permeate city streets around the globe. The mode of transportation has grown from trend to lifestyle, with more and more commuters who rely on their two wheels to get almost anywhere. In Toyko, with an influx of riders cruising around the urban environment, the city grew into a hub of two-million abandoned bikes as new wheels displaced old ones.
COGOO, a company that aims to create cleaner cities, envisioned a way to turn the unnoticed trash into a beautiful artistic representation. In their project Saddle Blossoms, COGOO with TBWA/HAKUHODO, recycled the bicycle saddles into an unlikely medium: planters.
COGOO collected dozens of abandoned bikes which sat in the same spot all year long with a mission to turn “an ugly problem into a beautiful solution.” To create the display, COGOO stripped back the surface material of the saddle and planted seeds within.
The company redistributed the bikes around the city, and waited as the Earth’s natural elements helped the plant grow. With the assistance of botanical experts, COGOO planted seeds that would grow at rapid speeds. Over the course of two weeks to a month, sun, water and rain brought the bicycle seats to life with six different types of flowers sprouting from the seat.
Bike racks around the city were transformed into art galleries to raise awareness for the environmental issue. Each saddle was decorated with a name piece for passerbys to identify the type of plant. Recover and cycle, the initiative message, was synonymous throughout the display, which was also promoted via posters and digital.
The initiative’s impact was substantial. The project reduced Toyko’s abandoned bicycles by over 40% and the media coverage sparked the interest of local government, who assisted in cleaning up the bikes and almost solving the problem altogether.