Surfing's laid-back image conceals a serious design subculture - people who build and paint the boards.
It is also an inspiration to the creative world. The sport has inspired fashion designers, musicians, and moviemakers, but surfing has spawned a design culture of its own, too. The surfboard is a classic example of the convergence of form and function. Surfboard designers, or 'shapers' as they are known, have developed the board, starting with the wooden long boards used by the first surfers on the beaches of Hawaii, California, and Australia in the early 1900s.
The shortboard revolution of the 1960s saw surfboards become smaller and lighter, while today surfing is facing the fact that new materials have made the surfboard one of the most toxic items of sports equipment on earth.
While shapers have developed the efficiency of surfboard design, artists have seen the surfboard's potential as a canvas. Influenced by surfing's inherent coolness, surfers aren't the type to be seen with a ugly board.
The British surfing history exhibition is at the Museum now, or check out Full Circle, a look at the evolution of the surfboard, at the Eden Project, Bodeva, Cornwall, until August 31.
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