M.C.Escher and the metamorphosis of the steel bicycle


Our new collaboration brings M.C.Escher, the world famous Graphic Artist’s work to a new audience, through bespoke bicycle design.

Photographs: Matt Ben Stone

Last year the Company and Foundation set up to protect M.C.Escher’s work, commissioned us to produce two new works which would use Escher’s original work in a completely new context, on a bicycle frame. The first of which is now finished. 

The aim of the collaboration is to bring Escher’s work to a new audience, whilst also highlighting the paradoxical properties of steel in performance bike design.

M.C.Escher, one of the world’s most famous graphic artists has produced some of the most technical and visually arresting graphic work of the 20th Century. His most famous works celebrated metamorphosis using complex explorations of infinity, symmetry and tessellation.

Escher’s ‘Butterflies’ was chosen as the best visual and physical metaphor for our bike’s ability and shows beautiful, detailed butterflies emerging from a tessellated pattern, typical of those found in much of Escher’s work.

We’re used to working with high grade steel and materials and making bikes that look insane but with this project this is the first time we were able to combine our best in bike design with the legacy of a technical artist like M.C.Escher. I’ve been obsessed with his work since art college so it was a huge honour and very intimidating, technically and aesthetically.

One bike frame - based on Spoon Custom's own Izoard RR race bike platform - will form part of The M.C.Escher Foundation’s permanent collection in the Netherlands, and will be finished in a highly technical finish developed from UV reactive paint. Dan Cole is working on that right now. The eventual finish will be almost imperceptible to the naked eye and Escher’s work will only appear under black-light (UV). Moving the light source, will give the impression that the work is dynamic, as the artist’s precise tessellation's break free from the carbon fibre fork, and emerge as butterflies on the steel main frame.

The second bike, pictured, is the only other version in existence, and is finished in monochrome, in keeping with much of Escher's original work.

The black light bike will be available to the Foundation soon, and will eventually be displayed at the Foundation’s discretion, as it prepares it’s forward global exhibition programme. 

The Spoon Customs concept was handled by expert 3D surface designer, Pete J Dunn, who has worked for Alexander McQueen and Liberty London. The pattern was then digitised, masked and precision airbrushed by hand, by Dan Cole of Cole Coatings Workshop, also in London. The frame was designed by Spoon Customs, and built by hand in their facility in Italy, from Italian steel made by Columbus Tubi. Parts and components are from 3TCampagnolo, Chris King, Challenge Tyres, and Brooks England. Wheels as shown here are by Spin Industries. 

The monochrome ‘Escher bike’ incorporating ‘Butterflies’, will be on display to the public at the UK’s handmade bike show,

Recent coverage of the project over on Hypebeast