crowd-sourcing for sustainable surfboards…

Kevin Cunningham is shaping surfboards that utilize found marine and beach debris, transforming trash into fine art…

Tom Carroll riding his 5'5" Wingless Quad Fish

“I make functional art – art that is designed to get wet.

Not the functional art of a chair designed to rest comfortably in a living room and not the precious commodity of stainless silverware on a dining room table, but functional art that rides the waves and carries a passenger – a surfboard. And as a designer and an artist I feel the need to make this art have meaning, aesthetic beauty and sustainability.

My surfboards are constructed using sustainable materials and methods; wood and recycled foam.”
– Kevin Cunningham

Kevin successfully used the kickstarter platform to crowdsource raising $3,500 to get his project off the ground in April this year. Check it here – the video is worth a look, especially when he starts on about the honeycomb bamboo.

From their site

Kickstarter is the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. Every month, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.
A new form of commerce and patronage. This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.
All or nothing funding. On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.
Each and every project is the independent creation of someone like you. Projects are big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental.’

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More from Kevin over the edge…


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“Currently the beaches we all love to visit are being plagued with trash; trash that washes up onto the shores from massive drifts of debris in the ocean.

Inspired by the beauty of nature and the large amounts of man-made debris in the oceans I am embarking on a series of surfboards that reclaim trash that washes up onto the shore. It is a dichotomy between the natural and unnatural. Natural materials form my surfboards; conversely, fragments of man-made debris such as plastic and glass are recycled and reused in the skin of the surfboard. Plastic bags woven into a strengthening cloth, plastic bottles cut up and reassembled into fins, and many other possibilities to be explored.

There are many surfboards that are purely functional; disposable plain white foam boards. Surfers are traditionally active in the protection of oceans and environments yet they have historically used a product that is highly toxic and creates a large amount of liquid and solid waste; in a foam board with a wooden stringer only 3-4% is renewable material.

My surfboards are to be viewed as both functional and fine art that emphasize Green design and sustainable construction while maintaining a high performance standard. The surfboards I shape do not wear out like conventional foam boards; they last ten times as long without any reduction in performance over time.

The atmosphere in which my surfboards are viewed changes the way they are seen. When in the water, my surfboards are functional objects, but when on the wall of a gallery they transcend into fine art.

The title of my company ‘Spirare’ is the Latin root of spirit- to breathe, breath, the breath of life, the soul. I hope to breathe new life into surfboard design and help surfing regain its soul. Surfing has a soulful dance like quality of performance art; we need to work to prevent the stage from being destroyed.

I plan to produce a series surfboards to be shown publicly in galleries around the country. I will also keep a blog about the progression of the surfboards and the reclamation of debris and its transformation into art. After the initial series of boards is complete and available for viewing I will produce a limited run of 100 hand shaped, signed, and numbered reclaimed trash surfboards for custom orders. Backers of the project will receive priority status for any surfboard order.
(from the KS blurb)

Kevin Cunningham is a graduate of The Rhode Island School of Design with a bachelor of Architecture as well as a degree in Fine Arts. He began shaping in 2003 and has exhibited surfboards in galleries and museums around New England. He is the recipient of the 2008 Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Fellowship in Design for his work to develop progressive Green surfboards as well as the 2010 Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Professional Artist Development Grant.

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