Few sports would celebrate the natural environment as much as surfing but surfboard manufacture can be a toxic business. But Michael Grobelny has designed a wooden surfboard which eliminates the use of polyurethane foam, fibreglass and polyester resin. “The physical act and culture of surfing provides an intimate connection with natural forces,” says Grobelny, who designed the board as part of a research project for a Bachelor of Design (Honours). “It’s this emotional and physical engagement with nature that makes surfing a powerful and enriching experience. In direct contrast, the use of toxic materials in the manufacture of surfboards is hazardous to board makers and the natural environment.” Grobelny researched different types of timber looking for something strong, light and sustainable. He settled on paulownia, a fast growing, locally available wood. In AUT’s product design workshop Grobelny had use of a computer numerical controlled router which he used to shape the overall form of the surfboard and remove excess material to create an internal honeycomb structure. This was then sealed with a bamboo veneer deck before being coated with a biodegradable varnish. Throughout the project Grobelny applied the guidelines of the Cradle to Cradle Design framework which aims to create systems that are not only efficient but virtually waste-free. Grobelny’s surfboard is now a finalist in the IDEA, International Design Awards competition which is run by Industrial Design of America.
Surfer and AUT product design graduate Michael Grobelny has designed a strong, lightweight and eco-friendly
Michael Grobelny with his creation.