Surf sells: From hanging 10 to selling $11,000 tables

Surf culture has drifted from the beach and come crashing into penthouse apartments and walk-in wardrobes, with Sydney designer Hayden Cox out front, riding the trend hard.

From his Mona Vale workshop Cox has conquered the waves with his brand Haydenshapes’ top-selling Hypto Krypto boards, ridden by saltwater royalty such as Tom Carroll. This week Cox unveiled his first venture into retail furniture, with three pieces utilising his mastery of resin for Australian furniture brand SP01.

Hayden Cox in his Mona Vale workshop working on the resin pieces for his furniture collection for Australian luxury brand SP01.Credit:Brook Mitchell

It’s the designer’s second successive stab at the luxury market, following the August launch of the Haydenshapes apparel range, which was snapped up by premium online retailer Mr Porter.

Translucent consoles worth $11,900 and $300 shorts are a long way from the 90s surf shop staples of sheepskin boots, beaded shell necklaces and hemp ponchos, but Cox, who launched his company in 2000, knows the value of his work.

“What has driven what some people call luxury is materiality,” Cox says. “With surfboards and designing with Future Flex,” a carbon fibre frame technology created and patented by Cox, “we set a new price point in the industry. That sent the industry down another path and influenced other brands to work with different materials.”

“It’s about creating a new perception.”

Surfboard designer Hayden Cox wearing pieces from his Haydenshapes apparel range, and his furniture collection for luxury Australian brand SP01. The console is $11,900 and the board is $3,950.

Cox’s ambitious approach to furniture design is already playing with perception at Sydney Modern, the extension of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. At the gallery entrance Cox created formidable resin walls, which filter the light streaming into the gift shop.

A rippling resin wall was also commissioned by interior designer Blainey North for the Crown Spa at Barangaroo but entering the retail space with Space Furniture, the operators of SP01, is a new, frontier for Cox.

“The unique thing is casting large columns, which are poured and mixed by hand,” he says. “There will be a consistency in colour and tone across the collection, but there will be different movements of light through each piece.”

“It’s similar to the ocean and water. There’s the depth of colour, like at the base of the wave.”

While Cox’s background beyond breaking waves is helpful when selling the Australian dream to international customers, the significant price tags require more than a charming backstory, although a decorative $3,950 board made its way into the range.

Australian manufacturers such as Cox are a rarity for Space Furniture chief executive Leighton Clarke, who is usually brokering deals with Italian labels such as Edra, Giorgetti and Kartell over cotoletta in Milan.

“It’s tough selling Australian manufacturing in its most commercialised sense,” Clarke says. “If we were producing another timber chair, it would be a challenge. It’s exciting that this collection is manufactured locally, but it’s just as exciting that Hayden is at the top of his field, using a unique material.”

“It’s more about the energy that Hayden brings to his work, What he is making is interior sculpture rather than just a console.”

While the resin dries on this project, next up for Cox is a wetsuit collaboration with New York-based fashion designer Dion Lee.

“I started building surfboards when I was 15,” Cox says. “Even then I was experimenting and playing with materials. Today I am still motivated by the intrigue of ‘what if we did this?’”

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