Leave it to the Swedes to invent a stylish and unique alternative to a bike helmet. Enter Hövding. Via Cool Hunting
Changing the way cyclists view safety and style with an innovative airbag hood
by L.S. Winkler
In 2005, Swedish designers Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin began work on a joint masters thesis in response to new laws requiring cyclists under the age of 15 to wear a helmet while operating a bicycle. The new law left many Swedish cyclists wondering if helmet laws for adults would soon follow, so the duo behind Hövding used the public’s concern as an opportunity for groundbreaking innovation.
They began surveying people on the streets to understand exactly why urban cyclists were choosing not to wear a helmet. This research led Haupt and Alstin to believe the best helmet they could create would need to be invisible. The Hövding Invisible Helmet is a fabric collar containing a built-in airbag designed to inflate around a cyclist’s head on impact. The fabric shells of the collar are replaceable and meant to be changed based on weather and style, which makes for a stylish piece of safety gear that will save your hair and, most importantly, your life.
The process from design to device took seven years of intensive research and development, recording hundreds of hours of cycling footage and studying accident recreations with the Swedish Stunt Group and crash test dummies. Research has proven that shock absorption from an airbag is actually much greater than that of the polymer foam inside a traditional bicycle helmet. With this research data, Haupt and Alstin were able to acquire the proper government certifications needed to sell bicycle helmets.
Hövding is the Swedish word for “chieftain” and the pioneers behind the name are proving to be leading visionaries in urban cycling. They were nominees for Design Product of the Year 2012 by The Design Museum in London and won a prestigious INDEX Award in 2011. We spoke with the Hövding designers about their product launch, a documentary film that’s in the works, and what to expect next.