I used to skateboard. It was fun, and I wasn’t very good. I could keep a board going for months, rarely–if ever–landing any sort of trick that might threaten to snap it. It ended up being one of the ways I measured my own skill in the sport: I once read a Skateboarding article about how pros could often break a few boards in a single day, and would look over at my deck, its nose and tail worn thin from endless stalls and slide attempts, still firmly intact after months, and realize I probably wasn’t destined for sponsorship.
Once, a far better skateboarder, using my board at a party, managed to accidentally snap the tail off as he landed. He was good about it, and gave me one of his boards in exchange, but it was funny; with any other kind of object, if I’d lent it to a friend only to see it promptly broken, I would have been furious. We all probably had one of those situations where you lent your new gameboy to some whiny friend who convinced you he really, really needed it just for that one night, even though you’d just got it a few weeks ago and were still playing it with the unbridled joy of a newcomer, and after finally giving in to his endless pleading the next day you saw it come back with the screen cracked or some kind of peanut butter stuck permenantly under the A-button. Ruined.
Skateboards weren’t like that. Every skateboarder who wants to get better actually yearns for a few broken decks, kept tucked away in his garage as a sign of commitment. I definitely kept my broken decks (all two of them) lying around, cluttering up the garage and annoying my parents, for as long as I could. No doubt many other skateboarders did the same, and as a result there are a lot of broken, completley unusable decks lying around. It’s not like when a deck breaks it can be salvaged for parts: once the wood snaps, it’s done. And yet if my own actions are any indiciation, there’s a strong relucance towards just tossing it out after it’s fininshed. It was ridden so much and used to its literal breaking point that to dump it away seems almost heartless, if you’ll excuse the sentimentality.
I thought about all this after stumbling upon (thanks to Make Magazine) this exhibit of Skateboard Furniture. The “skateboard bench” is a common enough trope; I’ve seen a version of it it in dozens upon dozens of skateshops, and generally people running those places tend to be of a more creative mindset, so there’s no shortage of innovative re-using to be found. What I wasn’t expecting were some of the other examples in the series, some of which actually manage to be kinda tasteful as pieces of recycled furniture.
Take the skateboard stool, for example, in which a single truck is used to hold together the pieces of 5 decks that make up the final object. More interesting than a plain old work stool, and not bad to look at.
I also like the longboard bench, which has metal legs underneath and accomplishes its goal with simplistic, straightforward design.
The lounge table is a great piece, re-shaping four skateboard decks into the wooden leg supports. There’s something about the shape of the deck (obviously tweaked somewhat here) that works well with a simple glass table (proof that it’s not always easy to get a tasteful piece of furniture out of some skateboards and glass is easily found in the coffee table shown above the lounge table on the site–it never really escapes the idea that the only place you’d ever see it would be inside a college apartment).
The last one I want to share is the Skateboard Jet Set Lounge Chair, which is clearly meant to sit outside, preferrably on a big deck by the water. It’s weird, unexpected, and pretty appealing.
On another note, Design is Kinky recently pointed me to the website for Deathbowl to Downtown, a promising documentary about the New York City skateboarding scene. The whole film is viewed from the perspective of the city itself, and charts the changes in skateboarding culture (pools->ramps->street) as parallel with some of the urban developments in the city. It also looks like a great street-level chronicle of urban NYC from the late 70s onwards and I can’t wait to see the damn thing.