The story of the Yibb starts at a our design agency in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The agency is called Zilver, and is run by Erik Roscam Abbing, Fred Montijn and Joost Modderman. We were specialised in designing products for sports and leisure, with a focus on outdoor sports. We’d been trying to get a foot in the door in the snowsports industry, but since there are no mountains in the Netherlands, we didn’t stand a chance.
It’s the studio’s 5th birthday and an idea is born: why not celebrate the birthday with an event that combines a lot of fun with the opportunity to show the snow sports industry what the agency has in stock for them? The infamous ‘zilver event’ is born. The programme: one day of designing, one day of building, one day of testing. The challenge: how can snowboarding, one of the most brilliant inventions in history, be made more accessible, to a wider audience?
the designing and building:
and then, after two days of hard work, the reward:testing our contraptions in Willingen, Germany, with our families. We had created three working prototypes of products making use of the qualities of a snowboard, without using bindings. One of these three would turn into the Yibb. But we didn’t know that then.
After the zilver event it’s back to work. We had a great time, it was fun, but there is serious stuff to deal with. Still, the idea of one of our inventions lingers: a snowboard with sticks you can hold in the place of bindings, enabling you to steer with your hands… We found out in Willingen that this very odd looking contraption enabled people who’d given up on snowboarding to have fun on their board. It gave people who’d never boarded before a great time while learning to ride. And it gave room to some very silly tricks for more experienced riders.
We made a big decision: this product deserves our attention. It needs to see the light. We set to work.
We were smart enough to realize well in advance that this product needed to be tested rigorously in real life before we could move on. That meant we had to go public, and that in turn meant filing for a patent. And so we did.
we built 10 test models of our invention, without focussing too much on the design: it was the user experience we wanted to test first. We also brought in the teaching expertise of Sjoerd Remmelink of Ripstar snowboarding to develop a teaching program for our product. The we took to Snowworld, our own dutch mountain, to have a test day with 10 apprentices, 2 teachers and three very excited designers. The test day was a huge succes, in the eyes of the riders as well as the teachers, and it urged us to move on with the project.
It also urged us to look at the construction of our invention up close. We found out that we needed a big shift in thinking. But isn’t designing all about the ability to let go of previous ideas? What we had was a rigid structure giving the rider a lot of support but also preventing him from adopting a natural snowboarding posture. So we moved the handles to the sides and we added a hinging structure: now the posture was perfect, there was still sufficient support and control,Ã‚Â the freedom of movement of the slope increased dramatically and the safety increased enormously. this is wat our firat trials looked like.
We built a nicer prototype with real hinges and baptized it ‘snowtorque’. Then went back into the snow. Bas, a Ripstar teacher, was our test driver. The improvements we hoped for turned out to work very well in the snow. Bas was happy with the freedom he felt to do tricks while also keeping a very good posture. Still, there was a lot of work to do.
design for example: we wanted our product to look as good as it performed so we set to work on that. Here’s what Joost modeled and rendered: