Sep 02, 2020Lucien Fowler

Innovation requires risk. The reward for said risk, should it payoff, is bountiful. Such is the case for visionary surfboard designer Hayden Cox, who in his boundary-pushing career has literally reshaped the very meaning of what a surfboard can be; elevating it beyond a mere sporting good to be an instrument of self-expression and triumph.

As any 15-year-old with a slim stipend can attest, damaging your board beyond repair is a sure-fire way to have a miserable summer. Upon the irreparable damage incurred to a 15-year-old Hayden Cox’s board, however, the world was given its first Haydenshapes. In the decade hence, Hayden Cox has carved out his spot as one of the world’s finest board designers, collaborating with the likes of Alexander Wang and ArtistDaniel Arsham. Blurring the lines between art and practicality, many of Cox’s designs look like they belong in a gallery somewhere in Paddington.

Hayden Cox has also added ‘father’ to his long list of accolades. We had a chance to chat with Hayden on all thing’s fatherhood, career and the balancing act of maintaining success in both.

You’ve accomplished a great deal in the world of surfing and your boards are revered all over the globe. DO YOUR KIDS HAVE AN INKLING OF YOUR NOTORIETY?

It’s pretty hard to impress a 3 and a 1 year old! I honestly haven’t really thought about anything like that before, but I do get stoked when my daughter recognises and points out surfers with my boards when we’re at the beach. When she was a little younger she’d point and say “Dadda”. That always got a few weird looks.

What are some of the biggest differences you’ve noticed about raising a kid in 2020 compared to when you were growing up, particularly in regard to surfing and getting kids out in the water?

As much as it annoyed me growing up, my mum and dad were pretty anti TV and sitting around inside. It was all about camping, being outdoors and finding your own entertainment. Now it’s come full circle and I’ve adopted a similar attitude with my own family.. Funny that? With that said, there are days we can’t reach for the remote and ‘The Wiggles’ quicker. I will say that these days, the digital era, kids have everything at their fingertips and concept of ‘patience’ has changed a lot. That ‘want it right now’ attitude is a bit of a new normal.

Has being a father reshaped your aspirations for what you want from your company?

Yeah for sure. I would like to think I have a far less selfish attitude these days. My goals are less about growth and more about impact. How can I help influence and evolve our industry towards being more sustainable? That’s an area I am pretty passionate. Being a Dad has definitely made me more considerate for future generations and ultimately what I’d like to contribute through my own skills.

Do you think that having kids has changed you creatively? Has your board design process and the kinds of projects you want to work on changed?

Haydenshapes has always been a reflection of my interests. If I look back over the past 23 years you can see how the brand and I have grown together through the good and the bad. A decade ago nothing would inspire me more than a new video part featuring my favourite surfers. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy those, but right now I have definitely thrown myself into learning more about up-cycling our manufacturing waste and creating new products and materials.

You’ve done some epic collaborations. The Chrome was a masterclass in design. If you were to do a collaboration with your KIDS, what would the board look like?

Our HyptoKrypto softboard is basically what that collaboration would look like - A performance FutureFlex core, wrapped in foam. A perfect board for you to teach your kid on, but then also jump on your self and get some fun waves. Its probably the most versatile board I’ve ever made and completely sold out globally within a few weeks! It’s coming back in September this year.

HaVE your kidS started surfing? What kind of board should kids get started on?

Alaia our daughter caught her first wave on her belly when she was around 1 and a half. I made her a 4ft Plunder and push her out onto some waves at Kiddies corner in Palm Beach, just up the road from our old house. My advice is to start on a foamy that you can bash around and have fun on… I couldn’t help myself though, it is a really cool feeling making boards for my kids. Astyn our son got his first one recently too! His eye’s light up whenever he see’s a surfboard. Surfboards and Vaccuum cleaners are his thing.

Photography: Dave Wheeler for MISTR

Creative Direction: Jack Milenkovic

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