Surfcraft : The Design and Culture of Board Riding. By Richard KenvinMingei Museum
By Richard Kenvin
Kenvin has recently released Surf Craft: Design and the Culture of Board Riding a beautiful coffee table book stuffed with stunning images of the boards on display from the exhibition. It’s worth buying simply for the photos alone, but Surf Craft also includes a thoughtfully-written 40-page introduction by Kenvin that traces the evolution of surfboard design, and also explains how meticulous handcraftmanship can inform modern high volume commercially-made surf craft; it’s a well-reasoned take on how ramping up surfboard production in the ’60s didn’t necessarily kill the beauty and art of surfboards. “Handcrafts are revered as a sacred facet of human life,” Kenvin explains, “but they also serve as the starting point for good design, the best defense against the potentially dehumanizing effects of mass production.”
Throughout the book, Kenvin runs with that thread and explores what modern shaping theory has learned from some of the oldest waveriding equipment ever produced. His analysis is so spot-on that after reading the book, you’ll invariably find yourself wandering around your garage, pulling out your boards, rubbing your hands over the contours and looking for the ghosts of the alaias and the kneeboards that had a hand in the design of your favorite thruster or fish shapes. Surf histories typically put all the emphasis on the cultural changes the sport has maneuvered through over the decades. It’s a welcome change of pace to view the history of surfing through the lens of the one thing that’s tied surfing’s threads together from one movement to the next: the surf craft.
SURF CRAFT – Design and the Culture of Board Riding will open at
LongHouse Reserve on July 31, 2015. This new exhi bition, organized by
Mingei Museum of San Diego, CA and curated by surf historian Richard
Kenvin, will occupy the Pavilion, presenting 45 surfboards built from the late
1940s to the present day in their historical context of craft and design.
SURF CRAFT will be a unique surfboard design exhibition, capturing the
influences behind design in board riding, from the alaia boards of ancient
Hawaii, to obscure surf bathing boards of England, Japan and Africa, to postwar
hydrodynamic planning hulls from Southern California.