posted by dpm on 05/03/2012
According to the title of a recent article posted at fastcodesign.com, "Lunar Rethinks Rock Climbing Walls, Making Them Slicker And Smarter." Slicker may not be a characteristic we're looking for in a climbing wall but smarter sounds nice. They follow with, "Few things say filthy rich more succinctly than an indoor rock-climbing wall." And so begins the barrage of statements and images so outlandish that I had to remind myself that it actually isn't April Fool's Day. The article showcases a new indoor climbing wall created by the Munich-based design studio, Nova. The concept behind the wall was to create a training wall/piece of art for climbers that would "match their surrounding decor." Watch the video to get an idea of what this piece looks like and how it operates.
There are more than a few things that jump out as 'wrong' with the structure and one that stands out as 'right.' The one thing that's cool about this concept is the idea of using light to demarcate holds that are 'on' for specific problems. This is a great idea and one that could pretty easily be utilized at climbing gyms or even home walls. A basic grid work of LED lights would be awesome for climbing walls. Imagine having an LED light next to each T-Nut hole on a gym wall and using translucent holds. You'd be able to easily light up specific holds for a problem, making taping a thing of the past. That would be cool.
Now on to addressing what is blatantly ridiculous about this wall and how this concept is destined for failure. Here are the top ten reasons why Lunar may have to rely on their ball-busting exercise bike for sustainable income.
1. Who will buy this? This is the elephant in the room and it just blows me away that this design has even made it to prototype status. How many climbers would find this piece "matching their decor?" A better question is, "How many climbers consider their home to even have decor?" Not to mention the unstated cost which would presumably be more money than you have ever made in your entire life.
2. Difficulty levels range anywhere from Mt. Kilimanjaro to Mt. Everest. Stop laughing. You saw it too. Maybe future designs can incorporate an Action Directe level.
3. "Don't chalk up my art bro!" This thing is going to be an outrageous mess of chalk and boot rubber. Tragically, some of the chalk might drift onto your other 'decor.'
4. Dead vert. Welcome back 1980's; we missed your comp walls! My finger tendons are about to get swole.
5. Iphone operated. I guess if you're filthy rich enough to have an indoor climbing wall, you probably already have one. If you don't, you won't mind dropping another 500 bones for it. I still can't figure out why you have to have an Iphone. Wouldn't it be easier to just have another remote that controls it? Or would another remote just clutter your decor?
6. Graffiti holds. Say goodbye to diversity in your gripping position. The erratic horizontal slashes will get you ready for climbing at...um...at the... OK, there are no climbing areas that resemble the Nova wall. Wait, I forgot! Everest!
7. Ambient. One level here is not enough. When the Nova is in art mode I'd like some more options like: House, Jungle, Trance, Breakbeat, and of course, Dubstep.
8. Texture. Who needs chalk when the texture of the holds is similar to that of a lightbulb? Nothing defines perfect friction like dynoing for a warm piece of plexiglass.
9. Other options. If you're the kind of person that wants one of these and has enough money you could also build a massive climate-controlled comp wall in your backyard. You could also just buy a crag and build a chateau nearby. Or, for just a few hundred bucks you could get your hands on an original Nova.
The 1987 Chevy Nova Sedan. 150,003 were built and sold. That's 150,003 more than the Nova climbing wall. For a fraction of the cost you could put one of these in your living room and it would be just as practical.
10. Here's where you come in. There is certainly more than just one more thing wrong with this design but I'll leave it to you to decide. Share your comments.