Editor’s Note: Melissa Belongea is a Denver based freelancer that covers snowboarding, design, art, and music, all of which converged on April 3 for the Design The Modern Snowboard awards party.
The connection between snowboarding, art and design is fundamental; especially considering one of snowboarding's main utilities as a medium for creative self-expression. The increase in the number of art shows, design contests and collaborations in recent years emphasizes this long-time love affair and consequently, spawns continued opportunities for industry growth.
Take Design The Modern Snowboard contest, for example. In its fourth season, Design Within Reach has hosted the event in conjunction with rotating brands each year for the benefit of SOS Outreach Society (formerly Snowboard Outreach Society). It is an event that reflects an increasingly popular model – synthesizing art, industry and community.
The first season was sponsored by Ride, followed by K2 for two consecutive years and this year when Never Summer was approached to host the Denver event, they immediately said yes. Seth Ehrlich, Development Director for SOS Outreach, says they wanted to partner with regional companies in order to help increase event participation. K2 sponsored the same event in Seattle this year. The Northwest is SOS Outreach's second largest region for participation.
Jeremy Salyer, Art Director & Marketing Manager for Never Summer, says there are a lot of positive angles to the event and encourages his company's involvement with charities and fundraisers wherever possible. He adds that the industry as a whole is being faced with the responsibility to do more. "Our industry cannot afford to keep going forward with an elitist attitude. We've built this machine and now there is a need to reach out more to the communities who support us and will continue to support us into the future."
What distinguishes Design The Modern Board from other similar events is its connection to a major design house, Design Within Reach. Since 1999, DWR has been bringing Modernism to the masses. Modernism is defined by a simple, clean, less-is-more aesthetic. Sounds familiar. Ehrlich parallels that Design Within Reach sits on the cutting edge of modern furniture design and likewise, snowboarding has an established history of pushing the limits. By creating intersections between snowboarding and outside businesses that have similarly aligned values, the traditional homogenization of snowboarding erodes and opens more opportunities to innovate with the influence of other industries.
Raul Pinto and JG Mazzotta, co-owners of Installation + Satellite in Boulder (one of the Denver event's sponsors), says they look forward to design contests that draw in a broader perspective of what snowboard and skateboard graphics can be. Design The Modern Board contest was open to anyone. Pinto says without tapping outside sources and encouraging new ideas, there is a tendency to see the same things over and over. Mazzotta adds that since so many of their buying decisions and sales are driven by graphics, it is essential to keep things fresh in this area.
In addition to opening snowboarding graphics to wider interpretations, building the event around fund-raising efforts for SOS Outreach also contributes to greater opportunities for industry growth, not to mention giving back. SOS Outreach is a seventeen-year-old non-profit organization that works to present outdoor recreation options for kids dealing with risk factors. SOS Outreach is a program rooted in snowboarding, but expanded to include skiing in 2007 and this year, merged with Meet the Wilderness as a way to serve more interests. With the help of industry partnerships, SOS Outreach has introduced snow sports to nearly 20,000 participants and continues to grow this number.
Ehrlich reports that this year marks the most successful DTMB event so far, raising $3,225 for the organization. Proceeds from the event will go directly into SOS Outreach programs and scholarships. Best in Show for snowboard design went to Mike Lorenzo, Atsuhiro Saisho took 1st Runner up and Derick Noffsinger & Matt Gordon w/ Kadien Design snagged the 2nd Runner up spot. Lorenzo will have his design produced as a one-off by Never Summer.