We've gone back to the very roots of surfing in America
One of our inspirations is surf pioneer Tom Blake, who, like us, looked back in time - in his case, to research the secrets of the ancient Hawaiian boards. From those studies, he was inspired to design a lighter, hollow surfboard that simply astounded everyone with its performance. Not long after Blake’s “cigar-box” construction in 1929, California took notice and its waters began filling up with this hollow concept.
Fast forward to the 1950s, a golden age that marked the end of war and the burgeoning of invention, rock and surfing. Mostly in California, surfing became a popular culture uprooted from Hawaiian wave riding, a thing revered by Hawaiians as art rather than a pastime. From those days to the present, surfing quickly grew to become an industrial giant, though it ironically saw slow advances in the adoption of new board construction techniques. The one great leap was away from renewable wood and toward the use of hazardous chemicals - an event which single-handedly allowed the industry to shape boards by the thousands for mass markets. The practice of shaping one's own board became lost to the common surfer and left to those professionals who could manage the materials. These few became the oracles of surfcraft, holding close the secrets they were discovering using the rapid production techniques that foam and polyester resin afforded.
Today, surfing has come full circle. Surfers now think about the negative effects of the mass-produced, high toxicity environmental time-bombs on which they paddle out - despite the grace and power of their designs.
At Grain, we're proud to be helping lead a small community of like-minded surfers toward a different choice. We've striven to be the first to design tools and techniques that no other surfboard company has developed. Our state-of-the-art CAD technology, precision-cut parts, and dedication to handcrafting the surfboard of your dreams, are coupled with our reverence for a past when surfers knew the delight of fresh shavings rolling like small, cedar-scented breakers from the blade of a sharpened spokeshave. We’ve embraced the future, to help surfers re-connect with their roots.
So what? A small surf company's found a way to think about their place in a world of commoditization and consumerism... But here's how we think about it: we may be working in a tiny corner of a relatively small industry, but considering all the dysfunctional constructs our society offers, who can argue that the world doesn't need more new ways of thinking? We embrace the notion that socially responsible, values-based businesses have the opportunity - some would say, responsibility - to model another way of doing business in the world. One exemplified by an emphasis on longevity - not planned obsolescence; on sustainability - not the passing on of environmental costs, wantonly spawned; on creating community around concepts - not creating profit engines that dupe consumers into tacit participation in a broken system.
A few times a year, at events held here in our shop to celebrate this idea, we gather together people we know that thinks so, too. We invite special guests that we admire who think - and act - in ways that exemplify this idea. Whether they're re-evolving materials, design, sustainability, a DIY attitude or something else, they're all helping the world to work a little differently than it has been, and we love 'em for it. We eat, drink, surf, contemplate art and ideas, and celebrate our mutual commitment to re-evolving ourselves and, hopefully - just a little - the world we're living and working in.