Designing mind

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    Hayden Cox, the man behind Haydenshapes and Futureflex is casting his creative net and looking for ever more efficient and enviro-friendly ways of doing things.

At a glance the Hayden Cox story might all sound a little too good to be true – a little too easy. ‘A fascination with surfing from essentially the time he could walk. A dream to shape boards and create his own surfboard brand and make boards better in the process. Follows that dream despite the misgivings of family and teachers, but goes on to revolutionise surfboard design and create a global brand that continues to go from strength to strength’.

Of course it’s all true, but to summarise Hayden Cox’s career like this is to do him a disservice and fails to recognise the combination of natural talent, single minded dedication and hard work that have underpinned everything he has ever done and the way he continues to operate.

Proudly self-taught and producing boards for friends and even teachers from his mid-teens, Cox never allowed the fact that something hadn’t been done before to deter him from trying it. In fact, in concert with his natural talent as a designer, that willingness to try new things and approaches – and not give up if they didn’t immediately succeed – continues to be one of his greatest attributes.

His invention of what we now know as FutureFlex technology, completely changed the accepted way of producing a surfboard. A parabolic carbon fibre frame, it removes the flex from the centre of the board where it was traditionally centred and puts it around the outside, resulting in a more responsive surfboard that is also lighter and stronger.
But having achieved success and acclaim in one area, he has never been one to sit back and bask in that success – for Cox it’s always a matter of homing in on the next goal.

“There’s no point in me just doing what I did last time, even if what I did last time turned out great,” he says. “It’s a matter of continually trying to do better.”

Boiled down, it sounds relatively simple. To Hayden Cox it’s all about performance and innovation, but never forgetting the importance of a beautiful aesthetic. Small wonder that Haydenshapes and Audi have enjoyed such a strong relationship that goes back even before he become an Audi ambassador in 2017.

The brand philosophies are extraordinarily similar, and while their respective products couldn’t be more different on the surface, as far as Cox is concerned, the combination of performance, of form and function, are essentially the same.

That shared philosophy also extends to sustainability and constantly seeking ways of not only doing things better, but genuinely making them better in terms of performance, efficiency and in a way that reduces the environmental impact.

For many years, Cox has applied the same tireless enthusiasm to developing new ways of working, trialling new more eco-friendly materials and reducing the waste products from surfboard production. It’s not an easy process and the relatively high proportion of waste product associated with manufacturing surfboards presents its own special set of challenges.

Cox has already had success in finding ways to repurpose some of the over matter from the production process, like reusing the offcuts from fibreglass and carbon fibre cloth and having them re-woven into up-cycled material to be used on new boards.

Of course none of this is allowed to come at the expense of the finished product.
“It’s important that we refine the performance characteristics of the products first and then we can figure out the most efficient way to manufacture. Compromise is not an option,” he says.
He works on the ‘every little bit helps’ principle, constantly looking for ways to make a difference – trialling new materials and production methods that will cumulatively make a real difference.

But Hayden’s reuse of the over matter is not confined to surfboard related items or projects. Crossovers with the Haydenshapes upcoming apparel line with luxury fashion retailer Mr Porter see surfboard waste matter repurposed and used in the production of buttons and hardware, while Cox is designing and producing a limited run of furniture pieces in for premium Australian furniture brand SP01 that utilises another mix of bio epoxy resin, up-cycled surfboard foam and fibreglass.

These new projects show not only his flexibility as a designer but his willingness to embrace new ideas.
“I’ve always felt as individuals we can make a difference and lead the charge of progress within fields and industries that we’re passionate about,” Hayden wrote in his book, New Wave Vision, back in 2016. It’s a philosophy he has lived since the very beginning and one he continues to apply to every facet of his life. It’s that attitude that will find new, cleaner ways to produce high-performance surfboards and it is that attitude and passion that will drive the next phase of Haydenshapes development.