Joey Ruiter is an industrial designer based in Grand Rapids, literally on the opposite side of Michigan from Detroit. He is the creator of a series of vehicles that have captured our imagination, so we needed to know why, so close to Motor City, those designs weren’t being made on the right side of the Wolverine state.
MOCO: We love cars, motorbikes, bikes and your designs are some of the most viscerally exciting we’ve seen. We’re surprised a GM, Harley-Davidson or Shinola isn’t producing your designs, why is that?
Ruiter: I would love to work with companies like GM, Harley-Davidson, or Shinola, and admire the work they put out. Companies like these are filled with really talented designers and plugging in is very hard.
I’m not a door knocker.
Above, the Reboot Buggy by Joey Ruiter. Photo: Dean Van Dis.
Unfortunately it’s still a matter of being at the right place at the right time. I am hugely relational in my work and life. I like a to connect to a company personally and I think they do as well. This way they know me, they know what I can do, and we figure out a way to work together. It just hasn’t happened yet.
I get similar questions from fresh designers all of the time. My answer is simply to make great things, tell great stories, be true to what you think, and eventually something will happen. While I have taken my own advice for 12 years, I still ask the same question myself.
Until the phone rings I will continue to create, build, to see around what is known, and push toward something unknown.
I’m not a door knocker! (smile) So where does a design like the Reboot Buggy come from? What influenced your design choices? And while we’re at it, the BIG20?
I am an artist by heart. I think every designer / artist / explorer should create in order to tell a story about an industry or just pure thought. The Reboot Buggy was an exercise in pure wonder. I put really tough criteria for an automobile together and wondered if it would be possible. So, all of the design decisions were simply a matter of what ‘it’ wanted to be. I tried not to influence the design but rather let ‘it’ become something on its own. In each project I think about what the object wants to be. It really flips the focus and creates thinking otherwise overlooked.
Above, the BIG20 bike by Joey Ruiter.
The BIG20 is the completion of four years of bike design trial and errors. This takes cues from our past projects and stays more true to the goals of travel. The bike allows users to make it their own in less expensive ways. I want people to really make their bike their own. This frame set allows for those customization opportunities in color, form, and size.
Thank you Joey!
Designer: Award winning and globally acclaimed designer, Joey Ruiter pushes through the boundaries of the norm and finds new ways to solve problems which leads to products that are as useful as they are jaw dropping. He has the ability to see around the expected and to notice the unexpected in otherwise ordinary things. He can’t wait to strip a machine down to the bare parts so that he can start over. From office furniture makers and power boaters to urban fashionistas, Ruiter helps businesses redefine and reintroduce their products to the design-savvy public who is always ready for something new.