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The 'Pelago Platform

An accessory product for kayak paddlers to link up with friends to create a flotilla of kayaks for extending user's experience on the water

What it does

The 'Pelago Platform allows a kayak paddler to temporarily install a platform surface to their kayak with the intention to connect to neighboring kayakers and build a community expansion to their activities on the water.

Your inspiration

I was initially inspired by imagery I found in my research of hundreds of kayaks protesting arctic oil drilling in the waters near Seattle. Seeing the many many kayaks forming such a community I found it exciting to think about seeing that collectivism amongst everyday kayak enthusiasts. The idea of seeing groups of these pods of kayaks forming an archipelago drove much of this direction and concept.

How it works

In keeping with the design language of the initial sponsoring company (Oru Kayak, makers of folding kayaks), making the platform out of similar corrugated plastic sheeting and using a similar origami inspired folding pattern, the portable platform would easily stow on the back of the kayak during transit and be quickly deployed by unfolding the primary platform surface and attaching the two (similarly folded corrugated sheeting) buoyancy chambers to the bottom of the platform. This assembly would then rest on four support blocks to the deck of the kayak and be supported on either side by the buoyancy chambers in the water. Simple carabiners and straps would connect the platform to the kayak as well as adjacent, neighboring kayak's 'Pelago Platforms as well.

Design process

The project began with research and ample concept sketches. Once the platform concept was settled on, many of these sketches dealt with figuring out connection problems, multi-boat configurations, as well as buoyancy solutions. Simple paper scratch models were created in an attempt to solve the folding (i.e. portability) solution in the best way possible. These were used in conjunction with urethane foam kayak models I fabricated. Determining the best way to support the wide platform on the back of the kayak involve numerous directions for buoyancy, attempts were taken to emulate the collapsible features of food and beverage containers like milk cartons and Tetra-paks. Ultimately going back to the design language of origami proved most simple and cost effective. With the onset of the pandemic, actual real-world real-water testing was interrupted and was thus supplanted by CAD 3D models where actual strapping and folding techniques were modeled. (One component to the project required the use of generative design where I experimented with styles of support blocks that the platform connects directly to the kayak on—this subsequently inspired another style that would also allow flatter packed storage solutions).

How it is different

From my on-going research, I have not come across a product exactly similar to this concept. Most of what currently exists is in the catamaran and out-rigger products that really only provide for stability on the water for kayaks. There does exist an adventure assembly for some kayaks that provides the ability to pitch a tent on the kayak, but this is a large and costly feature. The difference with the 'Pelago Platform is in it's simplicity, it's portability, and it's group-community building intention.

Future plans

My future plans for this project involve securing additional materials, fabricating a working model and testing on the open water with an actual Oru Kayak. From this I hope to test the feasibility and practicality of this concept.


It is currently featured in the Academy of Art University's Spring Show.

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