For many old-school surfers, riding waves is an organic, almost spiritual experience that happens mainly near tropical beach towns or at remote, exotic destinations.
But maverick surfboard shaper Hayden Cox believes the freewheeling, creative spirit of surfing belongs just as naturally in the most urbanized centers in the world.
As part of his mission to redefine modern surfing culture, the Australian-born designer produces high-performance custom boards that look chic and edgy enough to decorate apartments in Manhattan.
“I like to combine design and art with the surfboard world without compromising performance,” said Cox, 33, who recently moved to Venice Beach, California, to headquarter his surfboard production company in the U.S. “I like to merge those two worlds. It’s challenging, but that’s the fun part.”
Surfing is all about personal expression—whether someone rides a surfboard on giant waves or hangs one on the wall as an art piece, he said. To facilitate the crossover between form and function, Cox teamed up last year with fashion designer Alexander Wang to create a string of five exclusive surfboards. The marble-patterned boards were part of an installation at Wang’s flagship stores in New York City and Tokyo.
“Each board, as beautiful as they look, still maintains the very lightweight and high-performance flex patterns, and can be ridden by the most elite athletes in the surf world,” Cox said.
The irony of making a surfboard look like a heavy slab of marble was part of the playful spirit of the collaboration with Wang.
“Wang has an edgy take on fashion, and we felt it’s a good fit for us as a concept. We love the look of marble, and that wasn’t seen in the surf space before.”
“Wang has an edgy take on fashion,” he said, “and we felt it’s a good fit for us as a concept. We love the look of marble, and that wasn’t seen in the surf space before.”
He started surfing at age 4, and shaped his first board at 15 after snapping his favorite ride. Ever since Cox started shaping boards as a teenager growing up in Sydney, he has pursued innovation on every front. By 22, Cox had opened his own factory and was shaping boards for friends and teachers from his parents’ backyard. He even learned how to code in order to launch his own website. With Haydenshapes—his line of performance boards started in 1996—Cox made his mark on the surf industry.
Today, as a self-taught computer programmer, website designer and surfboard shaper, Cox embodies the spirit of modern surfing.
Known for his stylish approach to design, brand aesthetic and integration of art, Cox makes boards that are versatile enough for world champions and ideal for the everyday surfer.