new exhibition at london's design museum glides through the evolution of skateboards

new exhibition at london's design museum glides through the evolution of skateboards

design museum traces the design journey of skateboarding

 

In celebration of the one-year countdown to the Paris Olympic Games 2024, which will feature skateboarding’s second official appearance, the Design Museum in London launches an exhibition called Skateboard. Opening its doors in October 2023, the show is the first major exhibition in the UK to trace the design journey of skateboarding from the 1950s, when the skateboard was still homemade, to today’s professional and technologically advanced models.

 

The exhibition unveils approximately 90 rare and distinctive boards, along with over 100 accompanying objects like wheels, trucks, safety gear, VHS tapes, DVDs, magazines, and other memorabilia. Highlights include Tony Hawk’s and Sky Brown’s inaugural professional boards.

new exhibition at london's design museum glides through the evolution of skateboards
Mike Vallely, 1989 | image by Spike Jonze (head image: Makaha Kick Tail, 1969 | image by Caleb J. Adams)

 

 

skateboarding history: from the 1950s to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

 

Curated by author, designer, and skateboarder Jonathan Olivares, the exhibition features a wide range of skateboards on loan from the Skateboarding Hall of Fame Museum in California. The show is organized chronologically, with sections dedicated to each decade of skateboard history, highlighting the significant materials, designs, and events. Visitors can explore the evolution of skateboarding from 1950s sidewalk surfing to its inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, covering key moments like skateboard bans and the commercialization of the industry.

 

At the start of the exhibition, the focus will be on the earliest skateboards from the 1950s, consisting of roller skate trucks attached to wooden crates. These improvised boards allowed surfers to transfer their skills to concrete surfaces when the waves were absent, marking the beginning of skateboarding. Noteworthy items in the exhibit include Tony Hawk’s inaugural professional model skateboard from 1982, Laura Thornhill’s Logan Earth Ski 1970s pro model (the first women’s pro model), the first two skateboards with a kicktail (invented by Larry Stevenson), Palace Long Live Southbank 2017 deck representing the renowned London skate brand, and Sky Brown’s debut pro model, the Sky Brown x Skateistan Almost deck, featured in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

new exhibition at london's design museum glides through the evolution of skateboards
Christian Hosoi, Christ Air Mesa AZ, 1987 | image by Grant Brittain

 

 

exploring Britain’s lesser-known relationship to skateboarding

 

Furthermore, the exhibition sheds light on Britain’s lesser-known association with skateboarding. While skateboarding originated in California, skaters in the UK drew inspiration from US culture and adapted it to suit the British weather and urban landscape. A notable highlight of this narrative is the display of a 1967 skateboard manufactured by the Newquay-based surf company Bilbo, believed to be one of the earliest examples of a commercial board sold under a British company name.

 

Additionally, the exhibition delves into the global perception of skateboarding over the past seven decades, tracing this trajectory through significant media and stories. It includes a focus on early issues of skateboarding magazines such as Skateboard! and Skateboard Scene, as well as their evolution into Read and Destroy (RAD) magazine in the 1980s.

new exhibition at london's design museum glides through the evolution of skateboards
Laura Thornhill Logan Earth Ski pro model, 1970s | image by Caleb J. Adams

new exhibition at london's design museum glides through the evolution of skateboards
Salva Bevel, 1979 | image by Caleb J. Adams

skateboard-design-museum-designboom-full-01

Laura Thornhill, backside kick turn Torrance, 1977 | image by Jim Goodrich

new exhibition at london's design museum glides through the evolution of skateboards
Bahne Skateboard, 1975 | image by Caleb J. Adams

new exhibition at london's design museum glides through the evolution of skateboards
homemade skateboard, mid-1950s | image by Caleb J. Adams

skateboard-design-museum-designboom-full-02

GrenTech GT, Early 1970s | image by Caleb J.Adams

 

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Powell Peralta McGill, 1984 | image Caleb J. Adams
Powell Peralta McGill, 1984 | image Caleb J. Adams
Mike Vallely pro model, 1989 | image by Caleb J. Adams
Mike Vallely pro model, 1989 | image by Caleb J. Adams
Hosoi Hammerhead, 1986 | image by Caleb J. Adams
Hosoi Hammerhead, 1986 | image by Caleb J. Adams
GrenTech GT, Early 1970s | image by Caleb J.Adams
GrenTech GT, Early 1970s | image by Caleb J.Adams
GrenTech GT, Early 1970s | image by Caleb J.Adams
GrenTech GT, Early 1970s | image by Caleb J.Adams

project info: 

 

name: Skateboard 
location: The Design Museum, Kensington, London
dates: 20 October 2023 – 2 June 2024

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