This weekend I sat down with a good friend to watch Signatures by Sweetgrass Productions which has just been released this week. The film features a beautiful series of tantalizing visuals of skiing and snowboarding in remote regions of Japan that just left me in awe of Japan’s natural beauty. While viewing this cinematic original I discovered noboarding and snow surfing which are two sports that were previously unknown to me. What got me excited about both of these sports was just how much they likened themselves to surfing and took the experience of snow sports back to its more rustic roots by freeing the artist (the snowboarder) to be more in harmony with the medium (the snow) by doing away with the bindings that normally keep the experience constrained. Also, by shaping the board to carve the way a surfboard does the athlete is then left to rely supremely on balance and positioning which, inevitably bring him closer to Mother Nature.
Any surfer recognizes the value in a well carved board and although beginners may start on boards that are designed at factories most surfers worth their salt turn to hand crafted boards as they recognize the value in having a board perfectly customized for their height, weight and style. From a design perspective I’ve become completely ecstatic whenever I see a move in any industry away from mass produced design and towards a more handcrafted approach. Watching the artisans at work in this movie as they perfect the lines of their boards is as evocative as watching the snowboarders they equip aesthetically carve powder on the wintery slopes of Japan.