"I wanted something with clean lines," New York City designer Eric Jovcevski said about his kite, which looked like a cross between a Star Trek symbol and a giant paper airplane. "No sharp objects were allowed, like staples, so I used only balsa wood, glue and nylon, which I painted to look like notebook paper," he explained.
Jovcevski ̬ who works in marketing and advertising for his day job ̬ was one of a cadre of designers, architects, engineers and artists participating in the first FlyNY, an international kite design competition sponsored by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. "We wanted to spark a dialog between the design community and the general public, especially children," explained FlyNY cofounder Victoria Walsh, at the Knoll showroom (donated for the evening) in the Chelsea section of town.
"I thought the competition was a great way for people who want to design things to give back," said Jovcevski, who added that his paper airplane kite shared fourth place with a handful of other entrants. Winners walked away with furniture from Knoll, known for their commitment to efficient green design. The showroom was filled with colorful kites that were all up for silent auction, to benefit the New York chapter of Architecture for Humanity.
On hand from that group was Cynthia Barton, the managing director of the all-volunteer network of architects and designers, who donate their skills to bring high quality, functional design to marginalized communities. In the case of the NYC chapter, that has included a medical clinic and soup kitchen, as well as a green roof and improvement of a park. The group has worked in the Bronx, Redhook, Morningside Heights and elsewhere across the city.
"This competition engages public space in New York City," said Barton. "When you buy one of these kites you support work that brings positive change, supports a spectacular day of play, creating kites that fly over our beautiful skyline."
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Star Trek? Ask Eric Jovcevski.
The winning kite design, by professional German kite designer Heinrich Hohmann, was a massive, intricately sewn rectangle of red nylon. The striking design collapses down into a narrow stuff sack, making storage easy. Second place was based on Buckminster Fuller's iconic and energy saving designs, popularized in geodesic domes. Third place went to a Brazilian entrant, who based it on traditional Brazilian kite design. The latter apparently flew very well on May 9th at the kite exhibition, despite a lack of wind that day.
A major component of the event on the 9th was a kite-making workshop, aimed at city kids. Participants got a chance to interact with top-notch designers in a fun, casual environment.
It ain't easy being a frog kite.
It's also significant that a number of the kite designs were based on recycled materials, helping make the link between good design and protecting the environment. One had a tail of used Metro Cards. Another was made out of a pair of underwear, while others included reclaimed bits of plastic, fabric and other trash.
Of course, it's worth remembering too that flying a kite is a pretty low-impact activity, requiring no electronics or fuels. It's a fun, breezy way to get outside into the fresh air, and can teach kids a bit about the weather, winds and aerodynamics. Hopefully recycled designs inspire little green designers as well.
Let's go fly a kite!
The lean, mean "bucky" flying machine.
Heinrich Hohmann's unique first-place design.
Not a TIE Fighter.
Talk about airing out dirty laundry!
The second-place winner, based on a traditional Brazilian design.
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