Why this Hermès surfboard is more than just a shiny new plaything
Hermès’ surfboard from its Autumn Winter 2018 collection is a celebration of South African culture and World music
If your surf soundtrack needs an update from the tropical house jams of Kygo and Lost Frequencies as well as the rock classics of Pearl Jam and Beach Boys, perhaps it's time for a sonic escape into world music. Our recommendation: 'Savana Dance', a track by Deep Forest — French duo Eric Mouquet and Michel Sanchez — off their 1994 Grammy-nominated album. Just as well, if you're planning on setting your surf sights beyond Byron Bay to the likes of Jeffreys Bay (or J-Bay, as the locals call it) on the South African coast.
Why our sudden shift into African and World music territory? We blame Hermès, who's made us lust after their first ever surfboard from the Autumn Winter 2018 collection. It's not their first flirtation with the adrenaline-heavy sport — Hermès has caught their wave when they roped in artist Filipe Jardim, who showed off the breezy appeal of the Basque Atlantic coast in a print for their Sea, Surf and Fun scarf.
This time, Hermès' affinity with artistry travels to South Africa to tap into the creative pursuits of Ardmore, an artist collective made up of Zulu, Zimbabwean and Sotho artisan potters. Founded in 1985 by Fée Halsted in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, the design arm of their ceramic studio supplies a diverse landscape of African identity to a range of bespoke furniture, soft furnishings and tableware. In Ardmore's third design for Hermès (previous contributions included the bloom-heavy 'Flowers of South Africa' and the gathering of wildlife in 'La Marche du Zambezi'), 'Savana Danse' is dye-sublimation printed onto the surfboard for extra durability.
While we're not certain if Deep Forest's 'Savana Dance' inspired Ardmore, the fact that their print shares a name is excuse enough to get on our surfboards and dance. The traditional African percussion that pulses through the beginning of the track matches the worldliness of the characters in the surfboard: Zulu symbolism paints the leopard as a regal creature and grants the monkey with intelligence and wit. Any botanist can appreciate the beautiful, artichoke-like blooms of the King Protea, South Africa's national flower that dominates the surfboard's flora and fauna backdrop. Amazumpa motifs used in Zulu pottery can also be spotted.
Featuring a hull that's shaped for stability and agility, the surfboard is covered with a printed maple veneer enrobed by glass fibre and then glazed with a transparent resin on the top and coloured resin on the back. Its two wooden fins are also reinforced with a maple veneer. The Mini-Simmons surfboards from the late '40s and '50s inspire its shape, giving it a vintage-looking appeal. Bonus: Christine Nagel, the creative director of Hermès perfumes, has even developed a scent with hints of juniper and pear infused into the wax for the surfboard. Yes, this French fashion house doesn't do things by halves.
Ideal for both beginners and experienced surfers, this surfboard is the ultimate trophy wife if you're married to the sport. It comes at a price of course (a whopping $10,170), but hey, commitment isn't cheap.