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NY Design Week 2012: Sk8 Tile by Art of Board
Holding on to a box of broken skateboard decks from when you were a teen? Well, it's time to let go — by recycling them through Art of Board, a firm that gives your busted decks new life as a kitchen backsplash.
To complement today’s earlier post on the soon-to-be-released Broom Chair by Philippe Starck for Emeco, I thought I’d spotlight a fresh International Contemporary Furniture Fair find from another Hanover, Pa.-based company that’s also in the business of bestowing waste materials with a useful second life beyond the landfill. While Emeco primarily works with recycled aluminum to create its iconic chairs — the Broom Chair has found the company embracing pre-consumer recycled waste materials including scrap polypropylene from industrial plastic manufacturing and sawdust from lumber operations — the material of choice for the tiles produced by Art of Board is an entirely different creature: busted skateboard decks.
I’ve never really been much of a skateboarder myself or followed skate culture. As a kid in the 1980s and early 1990s, I happily left those honors to my Zumiez-shopping skatepunk of a younger brother (however, I can’t deny that I have a sizeable soft spot for both “Gleaming the Cube” and Vans). As an adult, I have wondered from time to time where all those skate decks wind up once they’ll been broken.
The short, not very complicated answer? The landfill (and, of course, Etsy).
According to grassroots skateboard recycling initiative I Ride I Recycle, the multi-billion dollar skateboard industry is an industry plagued by high levels of waste with approximately 2 million broken skate decks entering landfills each year from skateshops alone (the 3,000 skateshops across the U.S. average about 50 broken decks a month). Of course, decks aren’t exactly easy to recycle as the polyurethane-coated maple wood itself contains glues, pigments, and grip tape.
This is where Art of Board comes in. The company founded I Ride I Recycle not only as a method of sourcing the raw materials needed to create its signature tiles and other home goods (magnets, coasters, etc.) but as a way to elevate skateboarding from a “disrespected art form to one that embraces recycling, environmentally responsible manufacturing, reusing wood waste and broken decks, supporting charities and local skateshops, promoting skatepark builds in low-income areas and empowering youth with an eco-friendly DIY mentality.”
In addition to supporting charities such as the Tony Hawk Foundation, Grind for Life, and Life Rolls On (the Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation), a key component of I Ride I Recycle is, of course, the recycling program in which shops, skateparks, manufacturers, and retailers can ship broken decks to Art of Board using pre-paid shipping labels (skateboarders themselves can recycle their busted boards at participating shops and parks).
Once the broken decks arrive at Art of Board is when the recycling magic begins. Sold by the square foot, each hand-cut SK8 Tile is totally unique, adorned with original graphic artwork, that’s, of course, not always in the most pristine condition. On each tile, you may find scrapes, scratches, and other telltale signs of hardcore thrashing — this is tile that’s been put through the ringer and then some, but it’s also tile with a story to tell.
SK8 Tile can be used to add an eye-catching splash of color to retail, commercial, and, of course, home environments. One notable residential application of SK8 Tiles? They’re found in the kitchens of units at the Cherokee Lofts, an award-winning, LEED-certified affordable housing complex in Los Angeles.
For more info, head on over to the Art of Board homepage where you can learn more about the company as well as request tile samples and find out more about pricing. Have a few broken decks yourself that you’re not sure what to do with? Check out I Ride I Recycle to find a participating recycling partner near you.