October 4, 2008

Ljus Krön: The Sound Of One Hand Strolling


Alright, so it's the Ljus Krön by Christian Rancati [1]: only slightly more pronounceable than Gitta Gschwendtner, but a hundred times more eyepopping.

When I saw the Kron among the Kind + Jugend press conference photos, I was sure it was a prototype, a concept study, a show stroller. But Ljus also had a booth at the show, and looking at the Ljus website, it appears the Kron is a full-fledged product. Two of them, in fact, with either three or four of those wheels.


Those wheels! It's the reason we've all gathered here this morning: to figure out WTF is going on with those crazy-awesome wheels. Here's Ljus:

In designing the Kron pushchair we followed Zen philosophy in which less is more. The design is essential, with soft clean lines and a refinement of increasingly extreme forms. The whole pushchair is an example of this, though the highest point of evolution is perhaps the wheels.
Perhaps! Actually, their axle-free, roller & bearing is reminiscent of the monowheel, one of the early transportation innovation roads not taken. Just as Thomas Edison's greedy deceptions delayed for decades the glorious electrical utopia promised by Nikola Tesla's alternating current, we have had to wait nearly a century for an inventor the challenge the Axle Industrial Complex's stranglehold on the stroller market. I'm afraid they won't go quietly.


But the tires are merely a means to an end. Ljus's focus has always been--where else?--on the child:

The dream is our point of departure, beauty the point of arrival. Between the beginning and end of this journey we are guided by passion and love for the well-being of a newborn child. Daring to believe that a preset limit can be overcome in order to bestow, through our own vision, a new way of living, of moving ahead and ranging around.
On a less poetic level, that means designing a seat that allows for proper posture to accommodate a newborn's breathing and resting, then constructing that seat out of comfortable, temperature-managing, respiring materials [on closer inspection, that velour looks more like Ultrasuede] and allowing for near infinite recline.

But that's all forest. Let's look at the trees. This stroller is really about beauty, beauty in the eye of the medical equipment-designing, Zen koan-solving, and possibly Duran Duran tribute band-leading [2] beholder:

Created after ten years' experience in designing medical aids, the Kron pushchair expresses our idea of design, beauty, innovation, quality and technology. Kron doesn't need to convince. Like everything that expresses pure beauty it is immediate, striking, it arouses emotions. It doesn't have to be understood or interpreted.
It calls to my mind the words of the poet:
Take a chance
(Like all dreamers can't find another way)
You don't have to dream it all, just live a day


Some people call it a one-off stroller at a K+J photo opp,
But we can call it paradise.
Don't say a prayer for me now.
Save it till the morning after.

No availability date, country, or pricing information yet, but I'm praying I'll hear back from Ljus's people soon with some good news.

Ljus: It's the time of magnificence [ljus.ch]

[1] Whatever else it might be, Ljus is Swedish for candle. According to Triad's surprise Christmastime 1987-8 hit on the Swedish pop charts, "Tand ett Ljus," or "Light the Candle," , it's pronounced "jhuice." Totally unrelated, I think.
[2] Or is it? Ljus's site mentions visionary/designer Christian Rancati's previous experience designing medical equipment, but most of the scant Google results are for Christian Rancati the lead singer in Italian 80's music tribute band Discoring. Thanks to the miracle of mp3, K2's first, definitive version of "Hungry Like The Wolf" will belong, not to Duran Duran, but to Discoring. That is an awesome responsibility.

update: Ljus designer Christian Rancati just got back to me with more info. His replies to DT's questions are after the jump.

As soon as I saw the Ljus Kron, I emailed Christian Rancati for more information about it. Here are some highlights from his reply:

Product status: the Kron exhibited at K+J was an older version that the safety-tested production model; Rancati simplified the upper part of the structure but did not exhibit it "to avoid to be copied." The Kron stroller is not alone; Ljus will launch it "with other two beautiful products for children , a bike and a trycicle." [Please let them have those wheels, please please please -ed.]

Also worth noting: "Please take in consideration that the Kron stroller is completely made in Switzwerland and Italy, not in Taiwan, not in China."

Launch and availability: Kron will launch March 1st 2009 around the world; there are distributors being lined up in "Europe, USA, Japan, Emirates, Korea, Russia, Singapore..."

On the influence of Zen, &c.: "For me the Zen philosophy and the love for human being is very important and through my products I try to give love to the others." Indeed, Rancati's previous design experience is in creating rehabilitation and mobility aids for disabled children. "I take my risk for to give love, beauty, innovation, technology, quality, to give the best to the children for to have the best from the life."

On his membership in an Italian Duran Duran tribute band: "I'm not the same man in Discoring. It is only an interesting internet coincidence." What can I say, I'm devastated.



You should be a detective.

I. Want. One.

Ummm, yes. The Pram Museum needs one. Maybe even more than it needs an original MacLaren.

"Though thirty spokes may form the wheel, it is the hole within the hub which gives the wheel utility." Tao Te Ching, Chapter 11, (translated by Stan Rosenthal).

Nice cigarette butt in the grooves of the decking in the last two photos.

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