Emma Dinkgreve and Ivan Hackel are the creative duo behind Tread and Pedals, a design studio in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges creating handcrafted sustainable wares for him, her and home using upcycled bicycle parts.
You say Tread and Pedals combines your shared loved of bikes, design, the arts and recycling. Is this your dream business and how lucky do you feel every day to be doing what you do?
It truly is a dream come true for us to be able to have a business that celebrates our passion for bicycles, design, the arts and sustainability. We feel incredibly indulged being able to wake each day and make a living doing something that we love.
Your products are all uniquely hand crafted to the highest quality, using hand tools and what you describe as an ‘old fashioned’ sensibility. How much work is involved in creating one piece, for example a pair of earrings from a recycled bicycle inner tube, or one of the statement bicycle wheel clocks. Can you talk us through the process?
The creation process begins for us with the collection of the bicycle parts, which we source from our friendly bike stores. The parts are generally looking a little worse for wear, needing a good clean and some TLC. Once the parts are back at the workshop we sort them into their various piles, then we roll up our sleeves and give them all a good scrub.
Now that the parts are clean we can begin the process of transforming our old bicycle parts into homewares, accessories and jewellery. The inner tube earrings are sculpted into feathery forms and other designs inspired by nature using scalpel and fine pointed scissors. The process requires a great deal of concentration, as one slip with the scalpel can mean you have to start over… or reach for the bandaids. Whether it be leather tools, a soldering iron, scalpel, hand drill or hammer and anvil these tools are used to produce each of our unique and hand crafted wares.
The inspiration for your business came when Ivan was working in a bicycle shop and got to see first hand the volume of bicycle parts going straight to the tip. How easy is it for you to come by materials to make your products and how many bike parts do you think Tread and Pedals has saved from landfill over the years?
We are so lucky now to have the support of some brilliant bike stores and distributors who save us old parts especially. In the early days we found it challenging to find a consistent supply of used parts and even people willing to part with their “trash”. It’s much easier for us now that we have established a name for ourselves and people understand what it is that we are doing with the parts, think it also helps that we give our friendly bike stores beer in return for their trash. Every fortnight we return from the city with our long wheel base van full to the brim with parts – wheels, cogs, tyres, inner tubes and more. Over the course of this past year we estimate that we have saved over 135 cubic metres of bicycle parts from landfill, which roughly equates to the volume of two extra large shipping containers.
Although Ivan and I bring a different skill set and way of thinking to the Tread & Pedals table we share in all aspects of the business. We are both actively involved with product design, the making of our wares and the business management side of things. There are so many different hats to wear when running your own business that it can be a tad on the daunting side at times, I’m just thankful that Ivan and I have each other so that we can share the hats.
Are your products still driven by looking at broken bike parts and wondering what you could make with them, and what new design ideas are you working on that you’re hoping to bring to fruition soon?
Most definitely, you’ll often find us playing with a pile of parts or looking at bicycles and dreaming up different ways to re-purpose and up-cycle them. We are looking forward to releasing our range of larger homewares sometime in the near future. We have been tinkering away with tables, chairs and alike for some time now, it’s just a matter of finding some more hours in the day so that we can get them all polished up and ready for our savvy shoppers.
Anything else you’d like to add…
Ivan and I are so excited to be making the trip across to Bowerbird this May. It is wonderfully exciting to be a part of a market that’s full to the brim with wonderful creativity and talented designers from all around Australia.