Designers Max Frommeld and Arno Mathies have introduced modern plastic hinging to a traditional sled construction, forming a snow-skimming vehicle that can be folded flat (+ slideshow).
Folding Sled comprises a pair of curved oak skates, a hinged plastic seat, and a mechanism joining the two together that enables the sled to be made flat quickly.
The sled's seat becomes unfixed from fasteners attached to the wooden skates, and a connecting metal bar twists counter-clockwise to be tucked away underneath a column attached to the seat. This allows the sled to be snapped shut, ready to be carried or placed in storage.
The seat is cut and scored from recyclable plastic with a computer-controlled manufacturing process. Locally sourced ash wood is used for the skates, which are made by steaming the material until it becomes malleable and can be bent into shape – a method that has been in use for over a century.
"Ash wood is particularly suited for sled building and steam bending," Max Frommeld told Dezeen. "It is a ring-porous timber, which means it is particularly tough but relatively fast growing."
"Our sled manufacturer Graf Schlitten is located around the Lake of Constance in the north east of Swizterland," Frommeld explained. "Ash needs moist soils, so the woods along the Lake of Constance and its surrounding area are ideal. Importantly, steam bending ash has a long tradition in this region of Switzerland."
Swiss sled specialist Graf Schlitten was contracted to provide the wooden skates, and has agreed to manufacture Folding Sled provided the designers raise enough money for the first production run. An appeal on Kickstarter has raised over £5,000 in its first 24 hours, with 28 days to go.
According to the designers, their product is a cross between the two traditional types of sled. Family sleds have steep-angled skates that are set at 10 degrees and move slowly, while racing sleds have wide-angled skates set at 25 degrees and seat one individual close to the ground in order to go faster. The skates of Folding Sled are set at 15 degrees, allowing the product to be used by either one individual, an adult with a child, or two adults for leisure or for racing.
Frommeld and Mathies both grew up near the Alps where the sled was once a common means of transport. Sledding has since become a leisure activity, and the creators hope the easy storage afforded by their design wins them custom with resorts where sleds are commonly rented out, as well as with individuals.
The designers previously created a folding boat made from a single sheet of plastic. "We gained a lot of know-how through this project, which ultimately informed Folding Sled," Frommeld said.