Skate, Destroy, Create
Skateboards are made from high-quality maple wood and epoxy glue and are ideal for recycling and transformation into something new. Artists, carpenters and innovators use broken decks -- which would otherwise be tossed into the garbage -- as the raw material for their creations. The worn, skated graphics and colored wooden plies speak to the authenticity of skateboarding. Skateboarder George Rocha, creator of Iris Skateboards, says, "I wanted to make something functional from used decks, and naturally, a skateboard was it." He collects boards for his decks, but if he comes across a board that still has some life in it, he'll stop by his local skatepark and trade it with a kid whose deck is in need of an upgrade. Rocha recycles broken boards and those that have lost their pop, saying, "It just makes sense. Skateboards shouldn't be in a landfill. They should been ridden beyond the grave."
George Rocha's Iris Skateboards are a beautiful testament to the passion and the artistry shared by generations of skaters. Rocha explains, "Skateboarding is just like anything else in life -- you get out of it what you put into it."
Beck Hickey grew up surrounded by the art, music and fashion that is skate culture. Her Sk8bags and accessories are constructed using a mix of recycled skateboards and plush, high-end fabrics. The idea came to her as she passed by the Prada flagship store on a stroll through New York's Soho neighborhood. "The entrance to that store is beautiful polished wood, and I wished someone would try to skate it. With this thought in my head, I saw some beautiful satin bags. Everything just collided and I had this idea."
Lindsay Holmes of MapleXO
MapleXO was founded in 2005 by Lindsay Holmes. The avid skateboarder had already transformed old boards into a clock and a coat rack before she began hanging wood scraps on earring wire. After a chance encounter with skateboard manufacturer Paul Schmitt of PS Stix, the two realized that they had a shared ambition: to keep the waste associated with making skateboards out of landfills. Using PS Stix's abundant manufacturing leftovers, MapleXO has grown its offerings to include home items including the "Skate Lamp," which transcends imagination.
Not only is the name sweet: MapleXO founder Lindsay Holmes made a sweet trade with skateshops. "I'd bake them cookies and trade for the boards. It was a win-win. They get cookies, I get boards, and we save landfill space together." These are MapleXO Bike fenders.
MapleXO's Holmes said, "Once I started cutting into the boards for the purpose of making jewelry, I started discovering the amazing beauty and qualities inside the skateboards." The Skatelamp is a collaboration between MapleXO and woodworker Paul Sykes of Sykes Wood Fenders in Portland, Ore.
Holmes is still coming up with new uses for old boards. "Our next project with the skate scrap is to install an entire hardwood floor made from nothing but the scraps from making skateboards," Holmes says. "Soon we will be able to skateboard across skateboards. Can you imagine?"
Skateboarding brothers Adam and Jason Podlaski, from Pennsylvania, build stools and benches out of used decks and skateboard trucks they collect from skateparks around the U.S. and Canada. Their "deck stools" have a clean style and modern aesthetic. Jason Podlaski explains his inspiration saying, "Skate graphics, especially early iconic Alien Workshop stuff, had a big impact on me when I was younger and definitely contributed to me wanting to work in design." The brothers posted photographs of their first prototypes online and Deck Stools took off.
"Skateboarders love it because they love skateboarding and want to bring it into their homes. Non-skaters can appreciate the furniture for the beauty of the material, the cultural relevance, and the fun, functional designs. People are stoked when they discover that the products are made from real recycled skateboards." -- Jason Podlaski of Deck Stool
"Shredding" is part of skateboarders' and guitar players' vocabulary. Ezequiel Galasso of Buenos Aires, Argentina, fused his love for both in making the world's first skate guitars. Galasso was trained by a master luthier and was approached by a friend and skateboarder, Gianfranco de Gennaro, with the idea to build guitars from discarded skateboards. "Thousands of skateboards are broken every day. They are made of maple, a strong and quite expensive kind of wood that has been used to make classic electric guitars since 1941. The laminate and glue of the skateboard construction gives the instrument an outstanding stability," says Galasso.
Mike McCready's Skate Guitar
"Skate Guitars look and sound great, and have even been road-tested by Pearl Jam's guitar player [Mike McCready] at a recent concert in Argentina," Ezequiel Galasso says. "It's crazy to make something to play with your hands after it has been designed to be used with your feet."
Luke Bullard founded Deck Specks in Atlanta in 2011 because of his passion for skateboarding and the environment. "We get our decks from local skateboarders here in Atlanta, skateshops and teams that pass through town," says Bullard. "At least 90 percent of every board gets used and our scraps turn into functional jigs we work with on our machines."
Deck Specks Glasses
Each pair of Deck Specks develops a unique pattern when sanded, making them truly one-of-a-kind frames. Luke Bullard explained that Deck Specks gives back to the skate community, "by providing jobs for skaters, running contests and protecting our earth by recycling."
How cool would it be to have a backsplash made of decks? California-based company Art of Board make tiles out of broken skateboards. The company is run by a bunch of veteran rippers and their DIY roots are a big part of their success. Art of Board VP Bruce Boul explained how founder Rich Moorhead came up with skateboard tiles, saying, "Rich's nephew was heavily into skating and had a pile of broken decks slated for the trash. Having a carpentry background, Rich asked him to hold off on the trash bin, as he saw something in the worn graphics, scrapes and gashes appearing on every deck." It turns out the pressed maple used in skateboard construction bonded with glue is an ideal material to make tiles for use in commercial and residential interiors.
To maintain the necessary materials needed to meet demand for its products, Art of Board created the first in-shop skateboard salvage program, called "I Ride I Recycle." Boul hopes this helps change the perception of skateboarding, "from a disrespected art form to one that embraces recycling, environmentally responsible manufacturing, reusing wood waste and broken decks and supports charities and local skateshops. We're proud to say that we use every square inch of every deck in our products."
Finnish skateboarder and design student Björn Holm built a 6-foot-4 wooden surfboard out of used decks. "I knew from the start that I wanted to work with old skateboards because I love the colors inside them. And with my interest for surfing and surfboard shaping, the two ideas of old recycled skateboards, and a hollow wood surfboard came to life. I had no idea if it would work, since it's the first of its kind." says Holm.
Reto Close Up
"There is so much beautiful material inside the boards that are not visible until you really start to work with them. The sanding makes the colors pop different as well, I like that!" More than 50 recycled skateboards and six months later, Björn Holm took his surfboard out in the water for a maiden voyage. Skateboarding came from surfing, so the ambitious design student has helped complete the circle with his thesis project called RETO, which stands for REcycle for TOmorrow.
Skaters aren't the only ones psyched to find new ways to use broken boards. Custom bicycle builder Daniel Koenig of Ichi Bike in Des Moines, Iowa, had the novel idea of using snapped decks for bike seats. "The lines on the back of a banana seat flip up just like the tail of a skateboard," says Koenig. "It was perfect because decks are made of wood and my parents have an upholstery business. Often skateboards break at the front truck or the rear truck, leaving three-quarters of the board intact. I use the bigger section of broken decks for banana seats and smaller sections for cruiser seats."
Daniel Koenig of Ichi Bike
Daniel Koenig says his customers at Ichi Bike respond to skateboard banana seats "with glee and delight. There is cool art with grind marks, having been a loved and used skateboard on the bottom of the seats. I cover them with padding and leather, and vinyl and whatever upholstery scraps we find at my parents' shop." And it's not hard for Koenig to come across raw materials, as his landlord is professional skateboarder Heath Kirchart and Ichi Bikes is housed in the same building as Kirchart's Subsect skateshop, providing Koenig with plenty of raw materials.
Mid-Century Skate Furniture
Etnies Footwear founder Pierre-André Senizergues and design partner Gil Delapointe had already made an entirely skateable house -- now they needed to furnish it. The Skate Study House collection originated when Delapointe was inspecting the headrest of an Eames chair. The bent plies of the modern masterpiece reminded him of the contours of a skateboard. "I started digging in those iconic mid-century designs on chairs, sofas and tables and created 12 pieces of furniture which included decks or wheels," says Delapointe. "Pierre was looking for something related to skateboarding for his living space and I always wanted to recreate the slick style of those 'modern times' and it's all about California lifestyle."