Edit ModuleShow Tags

Shape Shifters

SD’s surfboard designers dream big, in and out of the water


Published:

(page 2 of 3)


Bessel working at his La Jolla studio

FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION
At a small shop near Windansea beach, Tim Bessell has produced more than 48,000 surfboards. He’s easily one of San Diego’s best-known shapers. But other objects come from his workspace, like furniture, art, even homes.

“I studied architecture after college while shaping,” Bessell said. “They go hand in hand. I’m a form-follows-function guy. Everything I make or do has a purpose or is functional.”

To create the ideal surfboard, shapers must understand an array of variables—shape, length, lift, and drag, etc.—that profoundly affect how a board feels and moves underneath a rider’s feet. A mere quarter of an inch in thickness will drastically increase the board’s “float” at the expense of maneuverability.  


⇑ Surfboard shaper Tim Bessel also designs low-cost, eco-friendly homes  made out of shipping containers.

Bessell is applying these detail-oriented engineering skills to his “ultimate passion”: low-cost, environmentally-friendly homes made out of shipping containers.   

“One day I was thinking about the huge need for cheap housing and how many abandoned shipping containers there are,” Bessell says. “Shipping containers are a perfect solution because they’re abundant, customizable, and insulating. We’re making them with the most modern technologies so people can live completely off the grid. People are skeptical because it’s such a radical idea. They get it when they see the models with amenities.”

The container-dwelling trend is taking off worldwide. Bessell Living Systems is currently building its first in Pacific Beach. Over the next several years, he has plans for more than 500 internationally.

CATCHING A WAVE BACK
Bessell isn’t the first Windansea shaper with big ideas. Most notably, Bob Simmons revolutionized surfboards while working as an aerospace engineer at Douglas Aircraft in the mid-’40s. One thing hasn’t changed since Simmon’s time: most shapers are essentially starving artists. Many of them break ground in other fields to pay the rent.

Above: The Tri-Fin Bench. Below: The Ekstro Chair.

Carl Ekstrom can relate. He patented asymmetrical surfboards in 1967, selling them from a small La Jolla shop. When surfers skipped over his futuristic boards for more traditional shapes, he stopped making surfboards. He did, however, channel his shaping experience into other areas.

“Surfboards are all composite construction: foam, fiberglass, resin,” Ekstrom explains. “Being familiar with raw materials like that is key for inventors or prototypers of any kind.”

Working with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, he designed the first artificial wave machine, which later became the attraction at the Wave House in Mission Beach. (He has since distanced himself from the project.) He also dove into art. His collaborative work with sculptor Svetozar Radakovich—a pair of stark white, carved doors made of foam, fiberglass, wood, and resin—was recently featured at the San Diego Craft Revolution Museum. He’s designed cars, medical devices, and recently launched a furniture company called Nomad Mobili.

As for his freaky surfboards? They’re kind of a big deal these days. Five years ago, a new generation of surfers discovered the potential in asymmetrical designs. It seems Ekstrom was a mere 40 years ahead of the curve. Last October, Ekstrom was honored at the Sacred Craft Surfboard Expo at the Del Mar Fairgrounds for his recent designs. Still on top of his game, he’s come full circle.  

“I like building all kinds of things.” Ekstrom said. “I really love surfboards because they’re such an art form. I feel lucky to be back doing it. It inspires so much creativity in me.”

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Stunning San Diego Landscapes To Inspire Your Green Space

Consider it your no excuses guide to sprucing up your outside (and inside)

San Diego Homebuyer’s Guide 2019

It's possible to find an affordable home in these six up-and-coming enclaves

Reforming Mexico's Court System via a Local Law School

How a new institute at San Diego's Cal Western School of Law is teaching lawyers to work in Mexico's new public trial system
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Vote Now for San Diego's Best Restaurants 2019
    From pho to fries, you can choose San Diego's best eats and drinks in 99 categories
  2. First Look: Il Dandy
    Michelin-starred Italian chefs open a stunner in Bankers Hill
  3. Restaurants Are Dying; Here’s the Solution
    It’s simple math, but the state of California refuses to allow it
  4. 21 Ultimate Road Trip Itineraries from San Diego
    These getaways will take you through California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Mexico
  5. Best of North County 2019
    Our annual roundup of what's up-and-coming and full-on buzzy above the 56
  6. San Diego Homebuyer’s Guide 2019
    It's possible to find an affordable home in these six up-and-coming enclaves
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Enter San Diego’s Cutest Pet Contest

Your furry family member could win a pet prize package and be featured in San Diego Magazine

Puesto's Next Top Taco

Submit your best taco recipe for the chance to win a grand prize
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Athena’s Pinnacle Awards Showcases Leaders in Diversity and Inclusion

Here are the winners from the event on May 7

What One San Diegan Is Doing with a Life Without Disease

Dr. Melanie McCauley went to Nepal to help build a local research infrastructure.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags