LA.BOO, the Italian startup that uses bamboo to produce bicycles

May 25, 2016 | written by:

La.Boo is an Italian startup, born in Misterbianco – near Catania (Sicily) thanks to four young Sicilian boys: Filippo Condorelli (Ceo & Designer), Giuseppe Nicotra (Project Manager & Designer), Pierpaolo Murabito (Marketing & Communication) and Mario Condorelli (Business Development). The purpose of La.Boo is to use bamboo, often overlooked in the field of mechanical and design, taking advantage of its enormous physical and engineering potentiality. But that's not all: it is a project that wants to revalue the land with a phase of reforestation and direct cultivation of bamboo, which will lead to the creation of ‘bambuseti’, which will provide, in a totally eco-friendly way, the raw material that will be later used in the processing phase, the design and creation of bamboo, from simple plant to design item. Pierpaolo, marketing and communication manager of La.Boo, tell us about this beautiful project.

La.Boo is a workshop based on the modern idea of craft design, which uses an innovative material in the design, bamboo. Why bamboo? It is a fragile material? What are its characteristics?

Bamboo is a plant that grows on land otherwise unproductive. A totally green resource that grows around us and that, unlike the most known and used wood, hides within its structure its soul 100% sustainable, due to its ability to regenerate quickly and spontaneously, contributing, than any other plant, to a greater reduction both of the level of CO2 in the air and of the heavy metals present in the soil. Called 'natural steel', it has enormous physical and mechanical capabilities that make it one of the key elements for the sustainable development of the design and construction of structures, from the simplest to the most complex. Today, indeed, thanks to technological treatments, you can turn bamboo wood into a valuable and versatile building material.

How, when and where you got this idea?

Besides being four business partners, we are four close friends linked by a strong ten-year friendship that, after dealing with both different study courses around Europe and different professional experiences, they returned to Sicily and here they decided to share their experience to make real the dream to achieve together something innovative, where innovation means change. In a world that identifies the most innovative startup as app developers or new digital tools, creating with bamboo extraordinary items, which approach with their use, even the most skeptical to discover this resource, leaving a not harmful footprint in the world, it seemed like the right idea for us to be innovative, but with an eye towards the planet, which in this case, is our largest supplier.

The first La.Boo's project is the 'Movimento unico', a bicycle with a frame made entirely of bamboo, assembled with zero Km natural fibers. Do you have other projects?

We made the 'Movimento unico' as our first project, because the bicycle, as the object itself, has allowed us to get into people's daily lives, with a design element, characterized by a strong territoriality of its component parts, accessible to all and which demonstrates the strength and durability of bamboo. The 'networking' is very important for us: we always shared our knowledge, drawing at the same time, to other's experiences. This is possible thanks to the coworking we do in the incubator 'Vulcanìc' of Catania, which facilitates us in contacting all those professional skills which are fundamental for the evolution of our project. In addition we are following a thesis project for the creation of a self-built bamboo housing. This house will be built in the first phase in the Colombian city of Tunja and later will be tested in Italy on a vibrating plate to check the seismic response of the prototype. Research and development, represent the pillars of our startup and this is why in 2017 we will start our crowdfunding campaign, which will allows us to raise awareness about the project, helping us to study and to discover all the possible applications of bamboo, transforming it, as well, in an engineered material.

Who are your products for? What are the sales channels?

We cater to a sensitive consumer, interested in non-harmful manufacturing processes for the environment and for the ecosystem that hosts them and with an eye for design, we would like to make it accessible to all, thus offering a service rather than a product. The sales channels are directed to a B2C market, tied to our store annexed to the laboratory and, completed the tests on the 'Movimento unico', the e-commerce channel, which will be inaugurated in a few months on our site www.laboodesign.com.

La.Boo is also bamboo manufacturer, is responsible for the reassessment of the territory with a direct phase of reforestation and cultivation of this plant native to Asia and America. How the cultivation take places? Where? Which benefits brings to the territory?

At the moment we manage a small bambuseto right here in Sicily, from which we work our raw material. You have to know that there are over 1,400 different species of bamboo that adapt to almost all climatic zones of our planet and in Italy, thanks to the climate variety, we can grow many species, even tropical ones. Knowing a first division between species of bamboo is very important: 'bushy' or with a controllable radial growth, or 'weed' that, as the name implies, have a growth difficult to control except with some tricks such as bulkheads or ditches used as a constraint of the propagation of roots. The benefits are many: a hectare of bamboo absorbs CO2 from the air and pollutants such as heavy metals in the soil (40% more than a traditional wood), has an approximately 3.3 times production of wood compared to a normal forest, with a low cost of maintenance. It also grows in places that would otherwise be unproductive becoming an opportunity to reassess critical areas otherwise abandoned.

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