Future Classic?


looking through the translucent, fiberglass/resin skin to the honeycombed, cardboard core of one of Mike Sheldrake’s prototype surfboards

In terms of the triad of beauty, performance and workmanship, Mike Sheldrake’s cardboard surfboards transcend the impressively vast exposition of mostly ‘DIY-for-DIY’s-sake’ projects and demonstrations at this year’s Maker Faire. Posing serenely amidst whirring gizmos and gadgets, the ultralight, translucent boards with the honey-combed, cardboard core struck me not just for their sublime simplicity, but because they were perhaps the only project making reference to the natural world. Their inspiration clearly derives from a desire to connect with the waves under one’s own power, by one’s own hand.

My friend Donald Fortescue and I toured the Maker Faire in San Mateo yesterday, grazing and gleaning as we spiraled around the perimeter fairgrounds into the core of airplane hanger-scale exhibition halls. We found ourselves fully saturated after a few hours and left for a picnic lunch by the salt flats overlooking the Bay. Donald, who chairs the wood/furniture program at California College of the Arts, lamented the conspicuous lack of connoisseurship guiding current trends in craft culture. I agreed, and would add: Things last when they are loved; things are loved when aesthetics drive the functional program from the moment of conception on.

I applaud the spirit of exuberant experimentation and decentralized invention sparked by the Maker Faire, but will be curious to see what emerges as a Future Classic as open source hacking shifts its focus to material culture.