We built Aero around a streamlined image of speed. The profile blends the classic outlines of a planing hull with an asymmetrical split tail; while the top of the board remains minimal, the bottom is extensively contoured. Ridges and valleys emerge from the surface, forming a new topography that reacts to speed and flow in unique ways.
Early surfboard shapers in southern California in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s were equal parts designer, craftsman, and engineer. The rugged coastline served not only as inspiration but also as a laboratory and playground. Influenced by aerodynamic and hydrodynamic theories, including Lindsay Lord’s The Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls, iconic surfer-shapers like Bob Simmons would fabricate their boards and test them the next day.
The process of continual trial-and-error dramatically progressed surf culture and continues to influence board design today. A similar lineage of experimentation forms the basis of West of West’s Aero and is fundamental to our design practice.
The physical production of Aero was executed by hand using traditional surfboard shaping techniques: The profile was sketched on the the block of polyurethane foam with a pencil, the overall shape sculpted with a hand planer, and final contours blended and edges sharpened with a sanding block. Finished in fiberglass resin with integral color, the board is battleship grey as a homage to the naval history that inspired early surfboard shapers.
Aero was built for and exhibited at the Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles.
West of West with Chris Noell
Photographs by Hara Kumaran