POC MAG 3 - Shapes & Spaces

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F O L K S O U N D S I N R E M O T E S PA C E S .


L E A R N I N G T O S E E T H R O U G H W H AT Y O U F E E L .

B I G M O U N TA I N S A N D B I G I D E A S .















A T E R R I B L E I N J U RY C O U L D N ’ T H O L D H I M D O W N .


T H E F U T U R E O F G R E E N T E C H N O L O G Y.




T H R E E R I D E R S AT T H E T O P O F T H E I R D I S C I P L I N E S .



S K I I N G ’ S R E B E L L I O U S R O C K S TA R .








EDITOR Shelley Jones ASSOCIATE EDITOR Andrea Kurland CREATIVE DIRECTOR V i c t o r i a Ta l b o t WITH THANKS TO Rob Longworth EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES editorial@thechurchoflondon.com ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES ads@thechurchoflondon.com 06

WORDS Pedro Alonzo, Philip Ball, S h a n n o n D e n n y, J a c q u e s H e r z o g , Jason Horton, Kate Howe, Kacper Kowalski, Dieter Rams, Daniel Ross, Pete Saunders, Cyrus Shahrad, M i c h a T h e i n e r, O l l y Z a n e t t i IMAGES D . L . A n d e r s o n , B i r k h a ü s e r, D a n B ro w n , L e a n d ro C a s t e l a o , H e a t h e r C h e n , Fo s t e r + Pa r t n e r s , Ad a m H a n c h e r, G e o f f H a rg a d o n , H e r z o g & d e M e u ro n , I n v a d e r, Pe l l e J a n s s o n , K a c p e r K o w a l s k i , K J U S , M a r k L e a r y, J o n M a rg o l i s , C h r i s O ’ C o n n e l l , R i c h a rd Pe re z , C i a r a P h e l a n , Te r o R e p o , E r i c S c h r a m m , Dimitrios Stamatis, Micha Theiner, Wave Garden

POC MAG is published by POC, in collaboration with The Church of L ondon, makers of HUCK magazine. The Church of L ondon To p F l o o r 8-9 Rivington Place London EC2A 3BA +44 (0) 207-729-3675 w w w. t h e c h u r c h o f l o n d o n . c o m The articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinions of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or editorial team. Cover illustration by L eandro Castelao.



LAND Falsetto-voiced lumberjack Justin Vernon drops his new album in a sonic space between the real and the ethereal. words Daniel Ross Photography D.L. Anderson

Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon has come a long way in the last few years. From a debut album recorded in isolation in a Wisconsin hunting cabin to closing this year’s Coachella festival as part of Kanye West’s headlining set, it’s been quite a journey. Indeed, sitting in a plush Park Lane hotel room discussing his self-titled second LP could deepen the impression of distance even more, but Vernon doesn’t see it that way. “Not much has changed for me. Everything’s the same,” he says, with two feet firmly on the ground. “I would’ve made this Bon Iver record anyway. There’s been a lot of inertia, but I bet if you look at any other three years in my life there’d be a lot of change, too.” The new album leans on themes of change and location with song titles that are real or imagined place names. ‘Beth/Rest’, the closing track, is perhaps the loveliest and most emotional – jangling keyboards lope throughout a soft-rock crawl that harks back to his time playing in the indie supergroup Gayngs. But is Vernon, who keeps Wisconsin close to his heart with a chest tattoo of the state’s outline, changed by his new global status? “Fame makes me feel strange,” he says, pensively. “I looked up the definition, and it simply says it’s a person or a thing recognised by many people, and I can’t disagree with that… But that circuit where people rely on it? It’s like death. Personal soul death.” Vernon doesn’t just write about places in his head. He explains: “‘Holocene’ is the name of a bar in Portland, Oregon, but it’s also the name of our current geological era [10,000 BC to the present day]. It’s a place and a name at the same time, and that’s what all the songs are.” Dualities like this run throughout the album as much as they do through Vernon’s life. He was newly dumped when he recorded For Emma, Forever Ago and in that recording you can hear the woods, alive and creaking around him, as he mourns a lost relationship. Bon Iver, in comparison, was recorded in a disused swimming pool that Vernon converted into a studio with his brother. It’s only a few miles from where he grew up and gives the record a vastness that is wholly different from For Emma. “My guitars weren’t singing to me or talking to me like they were [during the first album],” says Vernon, now thirty. “I had to go and build a sonic space that was like the sound of a new guitar, or a guitar that wasn’t physical. I’d plug something in, run it through pre-amps, use a specific microphone that gives a certain kind of vibe and really study that. It took me a while to come up with [the right setting].” It may confuse a portion of listeners who were expecting more of those woodsy cabin songs, but Bon Iver is a revelation and an exploration. Vernon puts it best: “I want this record to be owned by the people who listen to it, and understood and enveloped in their own lives. That’s why the place names are vague, because they allow for change, for somebody’s own place, their own life.” The meaning of the album is governed by its listeners, even though it was written by someone with private stories to tell. No matter what places and spaces are mentioned, imagined or even built by Justin Vernon, you can be sure that they’re unique to everyone who hears them.



AND BUMP For those who cannot see, a radical touch tour at the New York Museum of Modern Art paints the perfect picture. WORDS Shelley Jones Illustration CIARA PHELAN

A man runs his hands over smooth marble, taking in every lump, bump and dent. He soaks up the temperature of cold stone and suddenly feels hyperaware of his body and its presence in space. He moves away and is helped to assume a position. Now he is the sculpture; knees bent, head turned, arms wrapped around himself in an artful curl. This sensory experience is happening at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. It’s here among some of the greatest works of art – Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’, Matisse’s ‘The Dance’ and Rousseau’s ‘The Dream’, to name a few – that museum assistants are helping visually-impaired visitors tear through red tape to touch the masterpieces beyond. Director of the Community, Access and Schools Programs, Francesca Rosenberg explains: “It’s our belief that everybody can benefit from access to works of art and that includes, among others, the blind and partially-sighted. So we want to provide the most inclusive environment possible. Touching art can be a very transformative experience.” It was to that end that MoMA rolled out its first touch tour in the early seventies – inspired by the success of their art therapy centre for war veterans that opened in 1944. And although most galleries nowadays offer some kind of touch tour, MoMA is still leading the charge. “There are hundreds of works that can be touched,” says Francesca about an ever-growing collection. “We ask visitors to wear gloves, for conservation and curatorial concerns, but they still let through the temperature and texture of these works of art, so visitors can experience them using other senses.” And for those who cannot see, those senses are particularly heightened. In fact, the “educators” at MoMA have learned a thing or two from their tactile visitors. “[Blind and partially-sighted people] certainly notice things that other people don’t,” says Francesca, “the hand will stop and explore nuances that the eye just glances over.


I’ve spent time with blind people on Matisse’s ‘Backs’ and I’m now able to see them in a new way.” Removing works of art from their pedestals in this way is a democratising force, but not all institutions think that’s a good thing. A related case made headlines recently, when a blind sculptor, Felice Tagliaferri, was forbidden to touch Giuseppe Sanmartino’s ‘Cristo Velato’ (Veiled Christ) in Naples. The artist made his own version, in protest, and it is now touring Italy to have an audience with the Pope in September, according to Reuters. Many blind people from all over Italy made a symbolic visit to Tagliaferri’s facsimile. But why the big fuss? Art Beyond Sight, a non-profit organisation dedicated to bringing blind and partially-sighted people closer to art, has a mission statement that helps explain: “Our fundamental belief is that people who are blind or visually impaired must have access to the world’s visual culture if they are to participate fully in their communities and in the world at large. [...] It improves the quality of their lives, and helps them gain skills crucial to their education and employment opportunities.” MoMA is constantly pushing for more accessibility. In fact, it now includes visual descriptions on its tours, which add another dimension. “Some works that you think will be easy to describe, end up being really hard,” says Francesca. “Sensory analogies are good. For example, explaining Jackson Pollock’s ‘One’ as the size of a twin bed, gives a better sense of it than just giving inches or feet, and it’s better to describe something like the colour red as being really intense like a deep cabernet [wine]. If we’re describing a work that’s figurative, we may ask the participant to get into the position of the sculpture or the painting, so they have a sense of the body’s stance and balance.” And that’s the beauty of any work of art; it shows us a different way of looking at life. “For me, the most exciting part is the conversation,” says Francesca. “Not just me sharing my knowledge as an expert, but other people sharing their perspectives, informed by rich life histories.”



SPIRIT Small towns can foster huge talent, and Olympic debutante Axel Bäck is living proof. words Shelley Jones Photography Pelle Jansson

Saltsjöbaden is a small but vibrant town on the edge of Stockholm County. Developed initially as a resort by a wealthy landowner, the suburb buttresses up against a plethora of little islands that make up the Stockholm Archipelago – one of the biggest in the Baltic Sea. With less than 10,000 people, you could assume nothing much happens in this sleepy town, but it’s a hub of creativity, community and recreational activity – home to pre-Olympic winter sports competitions, Hollywood holidaymakers and conferences between heads of state. In fact, it was here that labourers and employers found common ground and signed the Saltsjöbaden Agreement – a landmark industrial action that favoured cooperation and cross-class collectivism for the betterment of the country. For slalom ski phenomenon Axel Bäck it’s also, simply, home. “If you live in Saltsjöbaden you can see the light on the hill from everywhere in the town,” says Axel, who grew up skiing this fifteen-gate slope and its sixty-five-metre vertical drop with competitive zeal. “I wanted to be a good skier,” says the twentythree-year-old who also played hockey and went windsurfing with his dad. “And to be a good skier you have to ski a lot... It’s a boy-dream to become the best in the world at something, for sure, we all have that. But, I knew I was good enough to really try.” In fact, the local ski team – Saltsjöbadens Slalomklubb (SLK) – is one of the biggest in Sweden with over 1,600 members. Despite the modest facilities, it has produced Olympic skiers like Susanne Ekman and Martina Fortkord as well as prolific freeskier Sverre Liliequist. “The hill is twenty seconds, it’s nothing, and there were no machines that made good slopes,” says Axel, who climbed the upper echelons of ski success to make the Swedish World Cup Team in 2010, to the tune of ‘Rookie Of The Year’. “When it was cold, there was snow, and some winters it was not even cold, you know? So

we couldn’t even ski. We’d be in school together, and then the snow would come, and we’d all go out skiing, building jumps, having fun. It was very friendly. Everyone knew each other. […] It’s friendly in Sweden for sure. We’re a small nation and we’re just a few guys competing in the World Cup. So everybody’s cheering for everybody.” This ‘Saltsjöbaden spirit’ has definitely fed into Axel’s holistic view of the world, and he recently launched a signature helmet with POC to that effect. Designed like a globe, with a red spot marking Saltsjöbaden, Axel hopes the helmet will show “you care about the environment, but also about the whole world”. He explains: “I remember when I was young and we were in Norway skiing on a glacier and there was so much snow, but now ten years later, there’s nothing left. So, of course it feels weird. I mean I’ve seen it, but I don’t think people really realise what’s going on. I’m trying to be as environmentally aware as I can... You should take care of the world.” Axel likes to keep an open mind about most things in life; from listening to classical music, jazz and hip hop – “nothing too commercial, though” – to maybe living on a farm one day. “That’s a dream, just living on the basic stuff,” he says. Whether it’s climbing, fixed-gear biking or windsurfing, he just loves to live life to the fullest. “I’m trying to surf as much as I can,” he says, although he’s training intensely for the next ski season. “It’s a little bit the same feeling as skiing downhill; you’re on top of the snow, you’re on top of the water, just smacking the wave with the board, it’s amazing. It’s just you and the board and the sail. It’s the same feeling as when you’re skiing; just you and the hill and the skis.” Skiing is where his heart is, and his passion was shaped by this small, but special seaside town. “One of my goals is to be the best skier in the world,” says Axel. “I love skiing and I’ve been doing it my whole life. Every day’s a different day, the conditions are different, the slopes are different. It’s so huge, you can never get tired of it.”


TOTAL POTENTIAL For Kate howe, a motivated mum-of-two in Aspen, Colorado, success is what happens when you have the courage to say, ‘What if?’ words Kate Howe Illustration adam hancher

Skiing saved my life. At thirty-five years old, eighty pounds overweight, I moved to Aspen, Colorado, with two kids, sixteen bucks and a broken old truck, and I started to live again. I got a shot at being a world-class athlete in a sport that wasn’t my native childhood sport and I’m loving every minute of it. I grew up in Palo Alto, California, and my early years were spent chasing figure-skating friends around our local rink. But despite reaching a national level, my last competition was in 1993. I was going through a lot of really tough family stuff during that time, so I hung up my figure skates and moved to Venice Beach, Los Angeles, where I ended up marrying a competitive climber. We opened our own gym, training a bunch of World Cup rock climbers, and it was really successful. Not long down the line, however, our landlord stole our business from underneath us and we lost everything. We moved to Montana to hide from the world and, after about three years, I found myself looking in the mirror, thinking, ‘What the heck happened? Is this it?’ Then, one day, I took my kid to ski at Bridger Bowl in Montana, and the snow sports supervisor recognised me because I’d been helping coach the hockey team. He said, ‘You’re a teacher, we need alpine instructors,’ and despite only having thirty or forty ski days when I was a kid, he convinced me to come down once a week and help out. By the end of that week I was full-time and by the end of that month I’d found out about the Professional Ski Instructors of America/American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA/ AASI) national team – sixteen top coaches who travel the country, teaching teachers to teach. I asked our coach if he could train me to try out in five years, which I now know is a ludicrous, audacious goal. But my coach said ‘yes’. I’m now six months away from that goal and there’s only a tiny chance that I’ll make the cut, but I’m okay with that. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. My goal has always been to get people to realise their potential and this month I’m launching a coaching


business Making The Jump to help people face their fears. We all have critics in our minds and while you’re performing there is no space for that kind of conversation. Anything that you’re thinking of or listening to, that’s isn’t the physical instruction to your body in that moment takes energy away from the task. Motivation has to be the thing that pushes you forward. Start at the very beginning like, ‘Why do you want to do this?’ And if you can’t come up with a really sound motivation that’s really true and has integrity for you, you have to find a new motivation. You have to build your fire from the inside, for you and from you, and about something that really honours who you are. One of my big inspirations is Wilma Rudolph – an Olympic runner in the sixties. When she was six years old, she contracted polio and doctors told her she’d never walk, but she became the fastest woman in the world. She was unbeatable. She shattered world records. It wasn’t that she won; she completely destroyed people’s concepts of what a human being could do. A lot of people have said, ‘What you’re doing is not only impossible, but ridiculous,’ and it makes me angry. I think to myself, ‘If I listen to you guys who think it’s inappropriate for me to be excellent, then I’m limiting myself.’ If I remove those social limits, who knows how far I could go? It might not be all the way to the team, but that’s not the point. The point is to remove all those boundaries and barriers that say you shouldn’t, you couldn’t, you’re not special enough – because everybody’s special enough. If you have happiness and willingness and permission to have a beginner’s mind, you lose all that critical judgment that keeps you from participating. And you never know, the person you meet at the bottom of the ski hill may set you on your path. It happened to me. Skiing is the vehicle that allows me to connect with people and help them find their path, and that’s what I’m passionate about. There’s a little bit of me that says I could never picture myself on the national team. But on the other hand, if you remove the idea of it being ridiculous, it could just be possible.





OBJECTS Is art the final frontier? Pedro Alonzo, curator of landmark street exhibition Viva La Revolución, introduces the work of Invader – a man whose creations transcend man-made borders. WORDS PEDRO ALONZO PHOTOGRAPHY GEOFF HARGADON & INVADER

Paris-based artist Invader has been assaulting the urban landscape since 1998. His figures – mostly based on extraterrestrial creatures from the Japanese arcade game Space Invaders, launched in 1978 – have sprung up in unexpected corners all over the world. The French artist is relentless. In thirteen years, at his own expense, he has placed thousands of figures – rendered in brightly colored ceramic tiles – in highly visible spots including swimming pools, bridges, tower blocks and flyovers. His global campaign started in his native Paris, which now has over 1,000 attacks, but soon extended to major cities such as London, New York, Berlin, Tokyo and Los Angeles. Like any alien invasion, Invader attacks big cities first in a concentrated effort of many works, followed by successive waves on later visits. After a decade-long campaign, the only continent without an invader is Antarctica. In the summer of 2010 he invaded Rome. This summer he is invading major cities in Brazil. But his ambition has not been tempered by success. On the contrary, during his invasion of San Diego, as part of the Viva La Revolución exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art – where he was apprehended by police for “vandalism” – Invader pointed to a sixty-foot cherry picker and said, “That is what I want for Christmas.” Like his street art peers, simplicity and repetition is key to Invader’s practice. However, Invader brings a totally unique language and format to the genre. In selecting his medium – the mosaic – Invader’s work inadvertently goes back to the early renaissance master Giotto di Bondone, but his subject and approach are totally contemporary. The French artist equates each ceramic tile to a pixel, the digital square that functions as the building block for computer-generated imagery. Each work is prepared at home, by hand and later placed on location. Invader uses a wide selection of tiles but tends to favour bright, primary colours such as blue, red and white. The use of basic colours and shapes was extended when he began to make sculptures

and paintings using the once ubiquitous Rubik’s cube. The artist composes pixelated pictures by twisting the cubes into specific colour patterns and stacking them. Similar to his ceramic aliens, the palette of coloured squares is used to create the image – at his exhibition at the Lazarides Gallery in London, Invader instructed the audience to view the pictures through camera phones for a clearer image. One of the largest invaders to date was made in the summer of 2010 in San Diego, where the artist used city blocks as pixels. Invader videotaped himself walking through the downtown city grid, tracing his movements with geo-positioning technology on a smartphone to create the outline of an alien creature. A video was exhibited in the museum inviting viewers to follow his path and recreate the alien figure. The vast majority of Invader’s work is located in the urban environment, often alongside the work of contemporaries like Shepard Fairey and Swoon. Like many street artists, Invader is reclaiming public space from the government and corporate advertisers. He uses the urban landscape as a platform to carry out his campaign and share his work with the world. In fact, his persistence and coverage has inspired and empowered others to follow suit. Imitators have popped up around the world, as have fans offering to spread his work in new areas. But how do you stay authentic in what Walter Benjamin called “The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”? It’s an issue that Banksy tackled in his recent ‘Is it? Isn’t it?’ documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. Ever enigmatic, in a recent interview with French Shoes-Up magazine, Invader said, “I’m stuck in the middle between Banksy and the main character of the movie, Mr. Brainwash [a self-confessed fraud].” With an identity still shrouded in mystery, Invader’s raison d’être is anyone’s guess, but walk through any city in the world bearing his geometric motif, and you won’t need an explanation – these mysterious aliens are like bright, sparky weeds in the increasingly sanitised urban sprawl.




Swedish-born Thomas Meyerhoffer cuts an unusual silhouette on the beach in Southern California, where the forty-six-year-old is now a local. With a healthy saltwater glow and strong paddling arms, he’s physically synonymous with the vibrant surfer profile, but tucked under Thomas’s arm is a surfboard from outer space. This is the signature Meyerhoffer shape, and it’s kicking up a fuss at every bend on its hourglass outline. “There’s been a whole spectrum of reactions,” says Thomas of the surfing community he launched this progressive creation for two years ago. “From the tougher local surfer who thinks I just redesigned a surfboard because I needed something to sell, to World Tour surfers, like Kelly Slater, who immediately understood what I was trying to do.” With eyes that see in surfing angles, Thomas’s masterpiece may be obvious, but for others, this pinched teardrop begs comprehension. Thomas explains: “It’s a longboard with the characteristics of a shortboard. The hourglass shape means that the wide point [on a traditional longboard it’s in the middle] is all the way back where you stand when you turn, which makes the board really responsive. The nose is all about high performance noseriding.” With a single concave in the nose that runs into a convex area in the middle, the board transitions easily from rail to rail – the sides of the board that slice the water when you turn. Chuck in a deep double concave in the back for extra speed, and this board is flying. But for Thomas, it was just an exercise in adaptability. He wanted to create a shape-shifting board that was simultaneously one thing and its opposite, to match surfing’s transitory needs. “Surfing requires very quick transitions,” acknowledges Thomas. “You’re really calm, sitting in the water, waiting for this little rising bump that has travelled across the ocean, but then it’s on you,


and you have to jump up very quickly and surf, at which point you have tremendous speed and you have to make very quick decisions. So the board morphs into a much smaller board when it’s on the wave.” Function and simplicity rule supreme in Thomas’s design ideology. “I didn’t design the board to look this way,” says Thomas, who has a personal quiver in excess of forty boards. “It wasn’t like, ‘Ah, I’m going to design a board that has a waist in the middle so it turns like a snowboard.’ I was really wondering how I could take more things away from a surfboard. […] I have a deep interest in simplifying the product for the user, nothing else. Performance comes first and everything else is secondary.” Surfers can be sceptical of change, but Thomas insists his innovation comes straight from the core. “I had the breakthrough because I was a surfer, not because I was a designer,” he says. “You can only innovate when you have actively been involved in a sport or subject for quite a long time. You can’t just go and put a design on top of some marketing message or something. […] For every person who has been suspicious, there has been someone who is like, ‘Wow it’s really working, it’s really great.’ And very wellknown shapers have come up to me to shake my hand, like, ‘Dude, what you’ve done is amazing, we really appreciate that.’” But for Thomas, the innovation just keeps him stoked. “I surf a different board every time I go surfing to keep it fresh,” says the diehard waterman. “I make loads of boards all the time that are really experimental and I force myself to surf them, even if I look like a kook, falling off. It’s a great adventure. […] When a good surfer picks a board, they feel it – the weight, the balance, and the flow of the rails. A really good surfer feels the board like an instrument. It’s a very personal thing.”


DOING GOOD Does creativity have the power to change the world? Graphic designer and video artist Pete Saunders considers the ethics of visual communication. WORDS Pete Saunders

We all have a responsibility to protect our planet and the people who live in it. It’s not just world leaders and businessmen who have the power to create change – we’re all responsible for shaping this world; we’re all designers. But for those with a global audience, the weight is greater. Influence is not a thing to be taken lightly, and if you have it, you should use it as a force for good. Keen to spark a conversation, POC Mag invited a tuned-in designer to share his ethical perspective.

Recently, the idea of environmentally sustainable design has become a hot topic. As industries plunder the planet’s resources, people are no longer happy creating waste without a second thought. Magazines are moving online, advertising campaigns are going digital and materials are being chosen on their environmental credentials, not just the way they look and feel. More consideration, however, needs to be given to the relationship between designers and clients; who they are and what they represent. Should designers feel an ethical or moral responsibility for the role they played in its market success, or are they exempt because they were simply representing their client? Eager to find answers to these difficult questions, I started to investigate how the design industry views ethical issues. By doing so, I wanted the design community, as the interface between the client and the consumer, to seriously consider what responsibility it holds. The idea was to consider whether or not ethical decisions have a place in the industry and how much control, if any, designers have to dictate their own ethical code. Should designers agree to any given contract or should they educate themselves about the clients and their products, before making an informed decision about whether to represent them? Contemplating this conundrum led to a wide variety of responses. A professor of design at a highly regarded institute of education in the US suggested designers have a professional responsibility akin to doctors or lawyers to represent their clients despite personal opinion. Others, especially designers just starting in the industry, were more ideological, believing that they had a responsibility to acknowledge the current impact of our lifestyle on the planet and actively work towards improving it in any way they could. This difference of opinion could simply be viewed as naïvety versus experience, but it could also signify a change in the collective conscience. Many people outside the industry view designers as overpaid ad makers or visual guns for hire, but there is a swathe of subversive nonprofits like Positive Posters – an Australian-based project that invites

designers to create artwork for an annual poster competition – aiming to raise awareness about global social issues. According to their website, “Our community was founded upon our belief in the unrivalled ability of designers to create, impact, communicate and spark revolutions.” Such designers have the education and intelligence to carry out research and filter information. They not only see the value of considered design, but also the importance of visual communication in educating those around them. These individuals will help shape how society views itself in the future; they will dictate the visual language of our generation. Designers can refuse to represent clients. Despite the undeniable and unavoidable pressure that the economy places upon designers (as with any industry), this ability has been exercised more frequently in the last few years and its impact cannot be overstated. Designers have the opportunity to collaborate with industry leaders and create work that informs and educates the public in an accessible way, contributing positively to society. Take Girl Effect, a collaboration between the Nike Foundation, the NoVo Foundation and the United Nations Foundation. Its simple yet powerful message about the transformative effects of educating young girls in impoverished, developing countries is presented in a visually stunning, informative and memorable way, and has an extraordinary impact. As we are bombarded on a daily basis with visual stimuli, the focus of the design industry should shift toward those with the most interesting and important message, not those with the deepest pockets. The most fascinating and frustrating aspect of ethics is that they are not set in stone. Our ethical decisions are based upon our internal and external experiences, as well as our heritage, culture and beliefs. They are an ever-changing set of standards that we apply to our lives and our profession should not be excluded from that process. Like any skill or knowledge set, we should continually revisit and refine it. We should improve it, not forget it. petesaunders.com


THE COMEBACK A harrowing injury almost brought him down, but Tanner Hall is bouncing back to get his message heard around the world. Words Shelley Jones Photography Chris o’connell

“I’ve had five surgeries with manipulation over the last two years,” says world-class freeskier Tanner Hall in a matter-of-fact tone. “And a lot of painkillers, I couldn’t get off them, so I found myself in the deepest, darkest hole I’ve ever been in. But I just realised, once I was good enough to get back on my skis, it was time to clean up my life, and go for what I love. ‘Cause skiing really is my life.” Tanner Hall has been to hell and back. After “breaking both legs and blowing out [his] knees” on a ‘motocross-style’ park jump at Stevens Pass, Washington, in May 2009, the Montanan, now twenty-eight, entered an intense year-long period of rehabilitation. “I’ve never even heard of any action sports athletes having an injury like that,” says Tanner from a gym in Oregon, halfway through a strenuous workout. “After an injury like that you don’t want to get hurt again, so you’ve just got to give yourself time. When I finally got back on my skis, I could only do a couple of days at a time because I was super swollen and super sore. I wasn’t used to that. But now I’ve been in the gym a lot and every day is getting better and better.” But it was a strange, wild place in the remote Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia – called Retallack – that provided the perfect environment for Tanner’s transformation. He explains: “I’ve been going up to Retallack since 2006 and it’s just paradise for skiers. I loved it so much I actually invested in it alongside [extreme cliff-dropping skier] Seth Morrison and a couple of other people, and we kind of made it our own little ski resort. Now, I want to show the world.” So Tanner and Inspired Media – the production company he founded with top freeskier Eric Iberg and action sports cinematographer Josh Finbow – documented an arduous winter in the spines, pillow lines and pine trees of this heli/catskiing idyll. The resulting movie, Retallack Lodge, is a dizzying parade of freeskiing sorcery. “To come back in a place like Retallack, which is like, the best place in the world – the best people, the best vibe, the best snow – is pretty intense. I was able to take large airs to mediocre


impacts because of the powder,” says Tanner, whose vertiginous pursuits have won him many superpipe and slopestyle golds in Winter X Games and US Freeskiing Opens in the past. “It was a lot easier on my body but I definitely scared myself a couple of times, skiing up into higher realms than ever before.” With his buddies on hand, Tanner let his injuries fade into the fluffy, white backcountry. “Camaraderie is definitely a big thing out there,” he says referring to the challenging terrain. “Your partners have to be backcountry savvy in case something goes down, like an avalanche. You don’t really have ski patrolman so you’ve really got to have each other’s backs. It’s no joke out there; you could lose your life. But on top of that, we’re definitely pushing each other. When you see your friend doing something good out there where the options are endless, it just makes you hungry for more.” With life back on its topsy-turvy, rollercoaster track, you may think Tanner is taking it easy. But if anything, he’s amping things up. “I’ve got a record label set up in Kingston, Jamaica, called Inspired Music,” says Tanner, a long-time, self-confessed reggae fanatic. “I’m concentrating on making movies for skiing – putting out skiing, how we wanna see it, to the masses – and also bringing back the positive message in music. We have one of the fastest-growing reggae/dancehall labels worldwide right now and that was giving me a lot of drive [when I was injured], to see Cali P [Rasta musician and co-founder of Inspired Music], and to really dominate the scene.” Now Tanner and his team of passionate doers are taking things to the next level. “We’re hanging out with the Minister of Sports, Education and Culture [in Kingston],” says Tanner, slightly out of breath as his workout intensifies. “The island knows. We’re going to bring skate parks, and we’ve got big ideas to raise awareness for action sports on the island as well as helping to clean it up. It’s not just about music and skiing, we’re going to change the world…” And with that our connection cuts. This dude has got things to do.




CAPITAL There is an eco-friendly Utopia rising from the desert sands of the United Arab Emirates, and it’s far from a mirage. Words Olly Zanetti Illustration RICHARD PEREZ

Oil. Mention the Middle East and it’s the first thing that springs to mind. No wonder, given the region is the world’s largest provider of the stuff. In 2010, according to BP, regions of the Middle East were collectively producing twenty-five million barrels of it every day. That’s thirty per cent of the world’s production. Given those figures, it’s the last place you’d expect to find somewhere claiming to be “one of the most sustainable communities on the planet”. But, as home to some of the most advanced eco-friendly architecture and currently producing more renewable energy within its boundaries than it can consume, Masdar City seems well on the way to achieving its vision. It’s a small city with big ideals. It sits on what was, until recently, a seven square-kilometre patch of empty desert next to Abu Dhabi airport in the United Arab Emirates. The city was established in 2006, although it wasn’t until 2008 that ground was broken for construction. Three years on, and building is progressing. When Masdar City is finished around the mid 2020s, it’ll be workplace and home to some 50,000 people with more expected to commute in from elsewhere.


A visualisation of the completed city in 2020, by architects Foster + Partners.

With construction starting from scratch, green innovations feature in every aspect of Masdar City’s design. High-tech renewable energy is important, but as Gerard Evenden, of Masdar City architects Foster + Partners, explains, it’s not all about how you generate power. Reducing need, something achieved by good design, is just as important – and cheaper, too. “We aim to reduce energy demand through the design of the city and its individual buildings, as well as incorporating renewable energy sources,” he says. “There’s a simple pyramid diagram that shows how the biggest environmental gain can come from the least financial investment – at this level, we are talking about the fundamental decisions you take about [a structure’s] orientation, form and materials that can improve energy performance.” One of Masdar City’s most significant design tweaks is unnoticeable at ground level. From above, however, it’s easy to spot. Like many urban areas, it’s based on a grid system. But rather than matching the grid to the points of the compass, its orientation was shifted by forty-five degrees. The result: buildings are shaded by their neighbours, they don’t get so hot, and demand for energy-hungry air conditioning systems is reduced. Keeping cool is a big deal in a city where August temperatures can reach up to forty degrees Celsius, so every building incorporates design features that help let the heat out, too. In this aim, new and old technologies mix. “We were inspired by traditional architecture in the region,” Evenden says. “The settlements we studied pre-date


electricity and rely on passive environmental controls […] to reduce energy demand naturally.” Some residential buildings, for example, are wrapped by façade panels of glass-reinforced concrete, which let in daylight while shielding direct sunlight. It’s a top-end material, but “their design reinterprets traditional mashrabiya screens”, says Evenden, referring to the latticework windows of traditional Arabic architecture. Those high temperatures do have advantages, though. Flanking the northern edge of Masdar City are twenty-two hectares of solar panels generating ten megawatts of electricity. Forget car culture domination, Masdar City’s streetscape will be designed around humans. In what Evenden calls “a first for the Middle East”, fossil fuel vehicles will be banned from public spaces and instead “the pedestrian [will] take precedence in a space shared democratically by other forms of green transport”. For this to work, high-density living is key, reducing the distance people need to travel in the first place. Masdar City shouldn’t be claustrophobic. Public parks, the city’s ‘green fingers’, will provide outside space and be located to draw prevailing winds through the city streets. Today is cool, but where Masdar City comes into its own is what it offers tomorrow. Commercially driven, it’s a research centre and test bed for the technologies we’ll need in cities worldwide if we’re serious about sustainability. In future, perhaps solar fields rather than oil fields will be the dominant image of the Middle East.

it is not what you see, it is what you feel

ART architecture gastronomy design...


�hape �pace �he geometr� of form an� dimension i� at th� root of al� existence on this plane�. WORDS PHILIP BALL ILLUSTRATION LEANDRO CASTELAO


veryone knows that falling snow is magical. But if you look at snow too closely there’s something overwhelming, almost scary, in what it says about nature’s exuberance. Not only are the individual flakes beautifully ornamented with six delicate, branching arms poised at the boundaries of order and chaos, but no two are identical. With each one of these countless drifting little crystals of ice, nature has come up with a new design. No human designer could ever show such inventiveness or patience, and you can’t help asking: what’s the point of all this creativity? Does nature take delight in its own artistry? The American philosopher and poet Henry David Thoreau wondered about that. “How full of creative genius is the air in which these are generated!” he wrote after witnessing a snowfall in 1856. “I should hardly admire more if real stars fell and lodged on my coat.” This ‘creative genius’ for making patterns and shapes is in fact found everywhere in nature. And what seems almost spooky is that particular forms occur again and again in situations that apparently have nothing to do with one another. Take spiral waves: we can see them not just in ocean whirlpools but in whorled bands of calcium that appear on the surface of fertilised frogs’ eggs, and in spiral galaxies. Or stripes: those on a zebra seem to echo the stripes of sand ripples or of ranks of clouds. To a mystical mind, it’s as if the Great Designer constructs the cosmos from a very small book of patterns and shapes. But there’s another explanation, at the same time simpler and more extraordinary: the maths is the same in many if not all of these cases. A mathematical description of calcium waves on amphibian eggs turns out to be equivalent to one that describes how spiral galaxies get their twisted arms – likewise for stripes in sand and animal skin. The unity of natural patterns is revealed by studying them as a branch of mathematics. So how are they made?

�asic Building Block� Snowflakes are probably the most famous, familiar and celebrated example of how the natural world produces intricate patterns that blur the boundaries between the living and the non-living. Natural philosophers both in the West and in ancient China spoke of snowflakes as ‘flowers’


of ice, as if shaped by some organic force. Trying to explain them in 1611, the German astronomer Johannes Kepler could only conclude that there is an active spirit in nature that “is in the habit of playing with the passing moment”. Although Kepler was forced to invoke a supernatural explanation for the snowflake’s intricacy, his understanding of simpler geometric forms, like those of ordinary crystals, was much more precise. Determined to understand why crystals have such mathematical symmetry – flat facets intersecting at precise angles – Kepler was reminded of letters he’d recently received from the English mathematician Thomas Harriot. In these letters, sent from Sir Walter Raleigh's ship in search of the New World, Harriot pondered on the pyramid-like shapes created by stacked cannonballs. Perhaps crystals are made of tiny spheres, too, he thought, ‘globules’ – formed in ice crystals by the freezing of water – too small to see, and stacked like cannonballs into pyramid-like arrays with flat facets. This was the start of the science of crystallography. For Kepler, however, there was more to it. Like many scientists of his time, he was deeply influenced by the work of the Greek philosopher Plato, who believed that the entire universe was fundamentally geometrical, shaped by principles of order, regularity and symmetry. To a ‘neoplatonist’ like Kepler, the symmetrical shapes of crystals were just one example of the way in which all of nature was structured along geometrical lines. In a way, scientists still believe this. It is generally understood that the basic building blocks of the cosmos – the particles that make up atoms – are expressed in terms of symmetry. Indeed, the equations for these particles obey rules of symmetry like those that govern the shapes of crystals. In other words, the geometry of shape and form is at the root of everything. By the same token, the mathematics of geometry and shape is closely linked to theories of time and space. The German mathematician Felix Klein began, in the late nineteenth century, to think of space itself as having geometric properties: for example, those of the two-dimensional space of the surface of a sphere are different from those of a perfectly flat plane. Klein’s ideas influenced the way Albert Einstein thought about four-dimensional spacetime as a ‘surface’ curved by gravity in his theory of general relativity. Meanwhile, Klein’s student, the Italian Gino Fano, took Klein’s work on geometry further. In particular, he began to think about the basic ‘atoms of shape’ – shapes in two, three or more dimensions that are not made up of simpler shapes. He identified nine, in two dimensions, and these are now called Fano varieties. Some mathematicians are now trying to figure out how these ‘atoms’ are organised in a kind of ‘periodic table’ of shapes: a directory of all the possible kinds of shapes


that exist. These basic shapes are defined by mathematical equations that cannot be ‘factored’ into simpler equations. Some of these equations are related to ones used in string theory to describe the hypothetical building blocks of all matter. But this fundamental geometric language of shape doesn’t quite seem sufficient to describe the world around us. Both Plato and string theorists might believe that beautiful order and symmetry lie at the heart of the universe, but the shapes we see all around us are rarely so perfect: mountains are not simple cones; lakes are not perfectly circular, nor are pebbles worn down by the waves into perfect spheres. They are full of irregularities that make each of them, like every snowflake, apparently unique. And snowflakes continue to garner fascination because they seem to lie right at the border between geometric regularity and unpredictable complexity. Kepler was on the verge of explaining the regularity – but the complexity defeated him.

�he �malles� �hance �ump Although we no longer have to invoke some hidden intelligence in nature to explain the snowflake’s shape, these six-pointed ‘flowers of ice’ still say something profound about the ability of nature to produce complex patterns and shapes. The seemingly simple laws that describe, say, cold water vapour condensing into ice, don’t always produce the same result. Imperceptible differences in the growth process can give rise to a limitless variety of forms – and what’s more, to objects that strike us as stunningly beautiful, arising from a dance of chance and necessity.


These patterns aren’t always as regular or obvious as the snowflake. But they surround us, not just in the wild nature of mountaintops and deserts but also in the garden or at the seaside. The swirls of flowing water, the arrangements of clouds or wave-lapped sand, and even the apparently random profiles of cracks and coastlines all have their own underlying patterns and geometries that seem to resonate with us. In living organisms these forms may be governed or at least guided by a preconceived plan, encoded in genes and shaped by evolution. But when patterns appear in the non-living world, the surprise is greater, and we’re forced to ask, as Kepler did: who put that there? It’s tempting to get a bit too romantic about snowflakes, for even if no two are truly identical, some forms of snow crystal are pretty hard to distinguish from others. Depending on how cold and moist the air is, the flakes might not be the classic, six-armed branching stars, but can instead be hexagonal plates or columns of ice, less ornate and therefore less individual. Yet some really are that symmetrical, which is weird. How does one arm know what the others are doing? The truth is that no one knows; this is one of the remaining mysteries of snowflake formation. However, most of it can be explained. The branching happens because, as the ice crystal grows in the air, tiny little bumps on the ice surface self-amplify: they automatically grow faster and sharper as they get longer, so that the smallest chance bump blossoms into a needle-like tip. There is, in other words, positive feedback that turns a small disturbance into a big one. That’s common in natural pattern formation.

This explains the branching, but what about the hexagonal symmetry, which creates the six main arms and makes the branching happen always at the same sixty-degree angle? That’s a result of the way the water molecules themselves are joined together in the ice crystal. In any crystal, the atoms or molecules are packed together regularly in an arrangement that repeats again and again. In ice, this regularity takes the form of hexagonal rings of water molecules, which is a result of the shape of the molecules themselves. This imposes a kind of ‘hexagon-ness’ on the very space in which the ice crystal grows, so that it grows faster in the hexagonal directions than in others. Voilà: the six-petalled flowers celebrated by the ancient Chinese sages.

�he �olde� �atio Chinese philosophers saw a significant distinction between flowers of ice and real flowers growing in the soil. Whereas snowflakes are sixpointed, wrote the philosopher Han Ying around 135 BC, “Flowers of plants and trees are generally five-pointed.” It’s not quite true, but flowers do seem to have definite preferences for the number of petals, of which five is very common. The arrangements of leaves, and of leaf-related elements in plants such as florets and petals is called phyllotaxis. And the frequent occurrence of five-pointed flowers is just one expression of a profound question about the patterns of phyllotaxis, which seem to be peculiarly mathematical. The florets in a sunflower head, for example, are

arranged in two groups of spirals, one going clockwise and the other anti-clockwise. The same kind of pattern is seen in pine and fir cones, and it turns out that the numbers of spirals in these paired groups always have particular ratios: typically, 3/5, 5/8 or 8/13. These are significant pairs of numbers for mathematicians, because they are successive terms in the so-called Fibonacci series: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 (to infinity). In this sequence, each successive number is the sum of the two numbers preceding it. The Fibonacci series has long been considered to have almost quasi-mystical properties. In particular, the ratios of consecutive numbers get progressively closer to a single number: 1.618034, to the first six decimal places. This number is called the 'golden mean' (or 'golden ratio'), and it is supposed to represent an ‘ideal’ proportion that many people instinctively prefer (although there is no solid evidence for that claim). The golden mean has been often used for the proportions of classical architecture – the Parthenon in Greece, for example, is said to be proportioned this way.

�ranches on �ranches on �ranche� Another curiously appealing aspect of the snowflake’s shape is that the overall shape is mirrored in small parts of it: branches on branches on branches, like a fern. This repeating of shape on ever smaller scales is a defining characteristic of so-called fractals, which are abundant in nature. Most are less regular than the snowflake. The profiles of mountain



ranges and the shapes of coastlines are both examples of more random fractal shapes. If you look at the map of a coastline, you can’t tell without some other point of reference whether you’re looking at a length of perhaps a few hundred metres or a few hundred miles. It's the same with mountains: the silhouette could be of a single crag of rock, or an entire mountain peak several miles across. The fractal shape of coasts was discovered in the early twentieth century by the British physicist Lewis Fry Richardson, who realised that you can never really say how long a coastline is – the length gets longer as you use a smaller yardstick to measure it, picking up ever more of the wrinkles. Both mountain ranges and coasts are made by erosion, as the rain or sea washes away the rock over years or centuries. These are random processes – rain can fall or waves can strike anywhere – but the resulting fractal outline isn’t random in the normal sense, even though it is disorderly. A purely random removal of rock would create a fairly smooth profile, with little wiggles, rather than the big peaks or bays we see in real coasts and mountains. It seems that random erosion creates fractal shapes because of, once again, feedback processes: what has happened in the past helps to determine what happens next. As a coastline becomes more convoluted, with large inlets and bays, it damps down the waves that are causing it to erode. A different kind of natural fractal is found in tree-like branching structures. We can see these in the shape of lightning, cracks, and the networks formed by rivers when seen from above, as well as in the branching passages of our lungs and blood vessels. As with snowflakes, the branching proliferates at ever smaller scales – tiny streams become small tributaries that feed into major rivers – but without the underlying geometric regularity of the six-pointed snowflake. The formation of a river network is an erosion process, too; rain falls on the landscape, collects into puddles, and runs downhill, slowly scouring channels into the rock as well as carrying sand and sediment along with it. So the geological process of landscape erosion creates two types of fractal shape: the branching river network seen from above, and the jagged mountain profile as seen from ground level.

�hirlpools to �aves to �and �ipples The flow of water doesn’t just carve the landscape into particular patterns and forms. It’s a rich source of pattern in itself. Most natural flows are turbulent; they are so fast that they become a complex tapestry of eddies and vortices, without any regular structure. This flow state is itself a kind of fractal; eddies form on all scales, from large swirling whirlpools to tiny little vortices. We can find this structure in flowing rivers, in billowing clouds of smoke (or rather, the jets of air that the smoke particles make visible),

the chaotic gaseous surface of the planet Jupiter (which has eddies as big as the Earth), and even the vast gas clouds of interstellar space. When a flow of liquid or gas becomes more leisurely, eddies can become organised into patterns of stunning beauty. This happens, for example, when fluids flow at a graceful pace past an obstacle, such as sluggish water flowing around a branch poking up mid-stream. At the slowest speeds, the obstacle has virtually no effect, but at increasingly faster speeds waves grow until eventually their peaks curl over like breakers on a surfing beach. They become steadily more ornate, twisting like the baroque spirals of an art nouveau design. And these vortices are arranged in an alternating pattern, first one side and then the other, called a vortex street. These patterns can be seen in various natural flows, from the wake of a pond-skating insect, to the curls of passing clouds low enough to be affected by an island below. Leonardo da Vinci was fascinated by these and other flow patterns found in streams and rivers, and he spent hours experimenting on them and sketching them in his notebooks. He was convinced that these fundamental forms of flow would enable him to understand the laws of moving water, and perhaps help his attempts to engineer the course of rivers. He saw analogies with the ripples of flowing or braided hair, which led him to suspect (and here he was right) that some of nature’s patterns are universal, recurring in very different kinds of systems. Some of nature’s most striking flow patterns look ‘frozen’ in place as fluids pick up and carry tiny grains of matter, only to dump them again in regular structures. That’s what we find in the sand ripples at the water’s edge, which seem to echo the wavy shapes of the water itself. These ripples can also be seen in places devoid of water – in the great deserts of the world, where the sand is ruffled and arranged instead by wind sweeping across the desert floor. When you think about it, sand ripples are puzzling. If the wind is simply picking up sand grains and scattering them, shouldn’t they be deposited in an even layer everywhere? But once again, the pattern here is the result of a feedback process that amplifies small, random irregularities. The same self-enhancing growth seems also to lie behind the formation of larger, regular sand formations – dunes many metres high, often with ripple-decorated slopes. Dunes can have a range of different shapes – not just striped ranks, like giant ripples, but also many-armed ‘star’ dunes and crescent-shaped ‘barchan’ dunes. Dunes are also piled up on the dusty surface of Mars, but there the higher wind speeds, lower gravity and lower atmospheric pressure can create new shapes not seen on Earth, such as odd-looking teardrop dunes. Nowhere is there a blueprint for any of these natural structures. Unlike living organisms, they aren’t copied from the template of previously existing ones. Each is improvised afresh by the forces of nature, a self-made tapestry in which a peculiarly pleasing kind of rough-and-ready order crystallises unbidden from spontaneous processes already pregnant with creative potential



�ig-mountain charger �eremy �ones is preparing to tackle his most challenging summit ye�. WORDS ANDREA KURLAND PHOTOGRAPHY TERO REPO

eremy Jones has his hands full. It’s mid-August and, talking on the phone from his home in Truckee, California, the bigmountain snowboarder sounds distracted. It’s not surprising, really, given that his to-do list reads like a three-part novella. For starters, there are the 125 riding days he clocks up each year, compulsively seeking out – and then dominating – the world’s most vertiginous backcountry lines. Back at base, meanwhile, numbers must be crunched and tough decisions made to ensure that Jones Snowboards, the company he founded in 2009, balances commerce with loftier green goals. Throw in a bit of high-level lobbying work as the face of Protect Our Winters – the non-profit he founded in 2007 to unite the winter sports community in the fight against climate change – and you soon get a picture of Jeremy’s frenetic, tripartite life. But right now, at nine in the morning on a chore-filled Monday, bottom lines and first descents are child’s play in comparison to this morning’s pressing task: he needs to locate a copy of The Lion King – fast.

“What’s up Cass? You wanna watch the rocket ship on the computer?” “NO! Wanna watch the shoooow!” “What? What do you wanna do?” “The Kin... The Rion Kinnnn!” “Oh, The Lion King! Well, I can’t find that right now, but you can watch the rocket ship on the computer?!” “Nooooooooo!” “Okay, okay – you can watch it. But only until Mommy gets home, okay?” “An I wan popcorn, too...” “No, you can’t have popcorn.” “No? Why Daddy? Whyyyy!” He may have conquered Alaska, Antarctica and every sketchy precipice in between, but at the age of thirty-six, Jeremy’s most rewarding challenges still lie at home, thanks to three-year-old Cass and Mia, who’s six. “Having a family has made me much more protective of my time,”


says Jeremy, tuning back into our conversation as ‘The Circle of Life’ kicks in. “I’ve taken control of my career in the sense that I have very few sponsors and they value my time; if I’m leaving my house, it’s for something that’s super important. Then there’s the added importance of coming home from the mountain safely. There’s no question my family is with me in the mountains, especially when I’m lining up a serious descent. My family is on my shoulders saying, ‘Make sure this is the right time to be doing this.’” Last season, Jeremy’s diary was pushed to busting point following the release of Deeper, an awe-inspiring, snow odyssey of a film that caught him hiking off track, without the aid of gas-guzzling helis, in search of the hidden corners of the globe. After months on the premiere circuit – telling and re-telling the film’s backstory – he figured he’d be ready for a break. But when a new season of flakes began to fall, he soon remembered that the expedition never ends. “I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to do another movie,” says Jeremy, drawing out every syllable. “Then I spent November in the mountains mulling it over and decided that there were still places I wanted to go, so the best way to do that was to do another movie. Deeper was really an experiment to see if I could go to these little-bit-harder-to-reach zones and do some high-end snowboarding. That opened up the world’s mountain ranges to me; places I previously thought of as too hard to get to. So, Further, my next movie, is that next step. It’s more exotic; it’s another step further out there.” Having reignited the “dream team” that worked on Deeper, Jeremy is now spearheading expeditions to far-flung places like the Japanese Alps and “a small island a couple of hundred miles south of the North Pole”. But ‘further’, in this context, is not just about distance – it’s about reaching new heights in your own backyard, too. “I spent a lot of time this winter in the High Sierra, which is kind of an extension of my home range. I’ve been exploring 12-13,000-foot peaks in the heart of the range, which are really hard to get to.” And it’s not just physical challenges that Jeremy is prepared to tackle. This September, he’ll brace a summit of a different ilk – one that’s just as treacherous and hard to overcome. “In September, I’ll go to Capitol Hill with a group of experts to try and help pass this new Clean Air Act,” explains Jeremy, fired up about recent moves to undermine legislation that empowers


the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon emissions. “It’s a shame that climate change is a political issue; I never wanted to deal with this politically. But over the years, we’ve met with all these different congressmen who are very clear in saying, ‘You need to become organised. For every environmental group we see, we see thirty well-organised, well-funded oil groups.’ They were really strong in saying that if you come together and use your power as an individual, you really can make a difference in this country.” So, after four years of tireless campaigning, is the message starting to seep through? “Unfortunately, the whole perception of climate change has gone backwards in the last couple of years,” says Jeremy. “The oil industry has done a great job of serving misinformation; they’re really good at it and they have a lot of money to put towards it. There are a lot more people today who believe climate change isn’t real. So, we find ourselves having to emphasise the science and explain that climate change is real.” With quirky campaigns like ‘Hot Planet, Cool Athlete’ – an advocacy programme fronted by big-name pros – Protect Our Winters is refusing to give up. And neither should we. “The general skier and snowboarder needs to continue to educate themselves and support the companies that are taking steps forward,” says Jeremy. “There are really forward-thinking companies out there embracing sustainable technologies and running sleeker businesses that require less energy – because that’s just good business, whether you believe in climate change or not. But until that customer is demanding skis with a recycled base, or what have you, then those changes will happen a lot slower. That’s a big goal of Protect Our Winters – to mobilise like-minded people so that collectively we can have a lot of power and make a difference.” Jeremy’s focus may be split in all directions, but whether he’s negotiating with senators or his three-year-old kid, the energy for each challenge is fuelled by the same source. “The mountains are where I get grounded,” he explains, “it’s where my inspiration comes; it’s what energises me. So in order to do a good job with Protect Our Winters and Jones Snowboards, I need to spend a healthy amount of time far out there.” And with that, a little voice pipes up in the background, singing along with Timon and Pumbaa



�s one of the most influential industrial designers of the late twentieth century, Dieter Rams' aesthetic vision has permeated the product landscape. Directing creative departments at Braun and Vitsœ, he made his principles manifest, but in the early eighties he decided to write them down succinctly and share them with the design community at large. Here are the ten commandments that, like Dieter's designs, are standing the test of time.



Good design makes � product usefu�.

Good desig� is innovative. The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

�ood design is aestheti�. The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our wellbeing. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

�ood desig� makes a produc� understandable. It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.

Good desig� is unobtrusive. Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

Good design is long-lasting.

Good design i� thorough dow� to the las� detail.

It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.

Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.

�ood design i� environmentall� friendly.

Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

Goo� design is a� little design as possible. Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity

Goo� design i� honest.

It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept .



�n the slum� of �anila, th� world's most densel� populated city, life happens whereve� you ca� find enough roo�.


By the middle of the century, it is estimated that the world population will be over nine billion, a significant increase from the nearly seven billion today. Right now, for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in towns and cities rather than in rural areas and that will rise to seventy per cent by 2050. Megacities, with more than ten million inhabitants, are springing up across the globe, particularly in developing countries. In 1985, there were only nine megacities; today there are twenty-six. Manila is the most densely populated city in the world. It is just one of sixteen cities that make up Metro Manila – the most populous metropolitan region in the Philippines – and it is currently home to around twenty million people; a figure that is rising by a further 250,000 people every year. Rural poverty has caused thousands of Filipinos to migrate to Manila every year from the countryside in search of a better life. However, they find few jobs and often have nowhere to live as the city is running out of space. As a result, thirty-five per cent of the

Opening page The financial district in Makati City provides a dramatic backdrop to shanty homes built around a lake in Pasay City. A third of Manilans live very close together in makeshift settlements on any bit of spare land. Pasay City, Philippines. January 28, 2011. Left With a daily birth rate of around one hundred babies, the government-run Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital has the busiest maternity ward in Metro Manila. Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines. January 5, 2011. Above Balconies of Katuparan homes in Vitas, a housing facility given to the urban poor people by the government. Manila, Philippines. January 23, 2011.


population is living in slums with little access to sanitation, healthcare and education. The traffic congestion and the air pollution is suffocating. Altogether, I spent about five weeks in Manila. At first, I met with a few local photojournalists at the Oarhouse Pub – a bar and restaurant in Malate, the bohemian district of Manila – run by former photojournalist Ben Razon. I didn't use any fixers [guides] as most people in Manila speak English. Getting permits to take pictures in certain areas like the Manila North Cemetery (home to 10,000 people), the Quezon City Jail (which detains almost four times the amount of prisoners it should) and the Payatas Disposal Facility (where almost 300 people were crushed by a landslide of rubbish in 2000), was a slow process, held up by bureaucracy. But I eventually gained all the access I needed.

Above Brian Alboro and his son BJ sit at the steps of their shanty home in Baseco where they have lived since their old house was destroyed by a fire. Situated at the shoreline of Manila Bay, the home is vulnerable to floods and typhoons during the rainy season. Brian is a migrant from Leyte who works as a fisherman earning between $1.80-$4.60 a day, depending on the catch. Baseco, Manila, Philippines. January 12, 2011. Right Local residents flee from tear gas during the demolition of their homes in Barangay Corazon de Jesus, a shantytown where the local government plans to build a new city hall. Over a hundred families will be relocated to a province outside of Metro Manila, but the site is far from their places of work and schools, so most of them are likely to come back to the capital and try to find a new place to settle. San Juan City, Philippines. January 25, 2011.



The urban area itself is overcrowded, with myriads of shantytowns all over Metro Manila, illegally inhabited by the urban poor. These people don't pay rent, and siphon water and electricity from the public system, which often leads to conflict when the land is required by the elite or wealthier parts of society. Demolitions happen on a regular basis and if people refuse to leave their settlements, arson commonly occurs. After a slum burns down, the fire department will usually issue a certificate that describes the cause of fire as an electrical short circuit, or something similar. Spending most of my time in the poorest parts of Manila, I met a lot of amazing, honest and friendly people. Many people living in shantytowns are educated but extremely impoverished due to the lack of jobs and lack of help from the government. There are between three and ten children in the average family, which makes it hard for parents to provide adequate care for every child or even send their children to school. The situation is getting worse every day, as more children are born and more migrants flood to the city in hope of a better life

Left Local residents of the temporary housing complex near the Vitas sewage facility meet for a cockfight. Manila, Philippines. January 21, 2011. Above Jose Arsega and his wife Rowena were born in the North Cemetery where they now live with their children. Like thousands of others, they have made these tombs their home. Manila, Philippines. January 14, 2011.


�hree riders a� the top of thei� individual disciplines com� together in � cataclysmi� clash of style, skil� and backgroun� for a different kind of bik� movie. PHOTOGRAPHY PELLE JANSSON

anny MacAskill, Martin Söderström and Daniel Dhers are titans in trials, MTB freestyle and BMX respectively. Whether they're winning golds at X Games and Dew Tour comps, stacking up millions of views on YouTube or simply defying gravity on two wheels, these three riders make jaws drop everywhere they go. But what happens when you take their combined energy and drop it in one of the most beautiful locations in the world? Eager to find out, POC brought the superstars to Stockholm for six days this May and let them loose in stunning spots, including the rugged islands of the archipelago, with top-end film technology. The result is spell-binding. But what was the experience like for the riders? POC Mag caught up with them all to find out.


What was it like filming in Sweden? Martin Söderström It was very cool that Danny and Daniel came to Sweden and I had the opportunity to show them around some spots that I’ve been riding. It's interesting, because every rider has their own thoughts when they come to a place to ride; what you can do and what you’re good at. When I'm riding with people who have totally different riding styles, they turn up and think something totally different. So it’s really cool to see how many different things I could do that I didn’t think were possible. Danny MacAskill It was really refreshing and a lot of fun. My previous films have all been just me working with a filmer or a couple of filmers, but it was really fun riding with Martin and Daniel – it made for quite a relaxed atmosphere. […] I’ve been out to Stockholm once before, but that was in the middle of winter so everything was covered in ice and I didn’t really know what to expect. Loads of the islands on the archipelago have this amazing smooth rock, because they were all made by glaciers, so it was really great to ride. Daniel Dhers For me it was really crazy! I’m not really the filming guy, I’m more of a contest guy, so getting to ride with the best guys in each of their disciplines, filming and just riding different stuff, was really cool. I think the overall [theme] of the trip was, ‘What [are all the different things] we can do with bikes?’ So that was a challenge. It was my first time in Sweden, which was cool. It was daylight for twenty hours a day and everybody there loves sports, so that was pretty interesting – coming from one of the most obese countries in the world, and going to what seemed like one of the fittest. How did you find the terrain? Söderström I guess the whole idea was to ride on things that weren't meant to be ridden and we found some really good transitions. We went to these islands that no one had ever been to before. I guess it was easy to film because everything was so beautiful. It was definitely harder for me and Daniel to ride on the islands, though. Danny can ride anywhere! We got some good stuff; way better than I had expected. MacAskill My trials bike is very versatile so I can ride on everything, whether it’s street, islands in the middle of the archipelago, or skateparks. I tend to stay away from parks because I’m not so good at that, but POC picked some really cool locations. Myself and Martin did okay on the islands because we could put our mountainbiking skills to use there. It wasn’t so easy for

Daniel. I mean he just won the X Games gold again this year – he's a pure park rider and rides pretty much nothing else, so it wasn’t so easy for him. But we had such a good time out in the islands and also in the streets of Stockholm – the city’s so cool-looking, with all these old buildings and cool architecture. Dhers I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was seriously beautiful. The archipelago was good. I had no idea what it was going to be like and one of the days we ended up in a boat, like a ship. It’s just a really, really beautiful place. It has a lot of beautiful people too! I don’t really ride much street, but every time we went to a park I loved it. I was just in my element. After watching Danny and Martin, I came back here to the States, and was just trying to look at riding differently, to come up with something out of the box. Did you find that there were similarities between your styles even though they’re all different? Söderström Yeah I guess all of us have in our minds that we want to get better in our sports so we’re happy for someone to help us out with that, and share our experiences. Definitely in our minds we’re totally the same, just riding different things. That was really cool. We pushed each other and helped each other out. If you’re good at something that someone else isn’t good at, you just tell them how easy it is! It was a good time. MacAskill We’re all very different but we kind of feed off each other. If someone’s having a good time and getting the tricks they want, it’s cool for the other person to also try and do the same thing. There was no competitiveness at all; everyone was really chilled. Dhers At the end of the day we’re all riding bikes, so it can translate. I guess they’ve never really seen me ride park, so they were psyched for that, and I’ve never seen Martin ride street so I was really psyched for that, too. It's the same with Danny. I seriously can’t believe what Danny jumps. It’s massive, I was freaking out. It was funny ‘cause through the whole trip, we would find things, and if Martin and me couldn’t do it, we’d be like, ‘Oh well, Danny can!’ Is it important to do something different in film, to keep it fresh? Söderström I really think so, to bring something new. I’ve never really seen another movie where there are three totally different


riders from different backgrounds, riding together. […] The filming was, well, it really felt worth risking my life for actually! Because on video it was even better than how it felt when we were doing it. The filmers did an amazing job. Dhers I don’t think that anyone has ever done anything like this before. There’s some kind of [volatility] between BMX and mountain biking, I mean, I don’t really care, but I think it’s going to be funny when BMXers get to see the stuff that Danny and Martin are doing. […] When I film, I try to do stuff that throws me way out of my comfort zone. MacAskill It’s important to have a different feel to the videos. […] Niels and Andreas from Antimedia had a lot of cool film kit, which made it really interesting. They were using an RC helicopter, which is incredibly difficult to use, but they managed to get some cool footage of Daniel underneath a motorway flyover. We had a Phantom camera too – which is basically a camera that can film, I think, 2,500 frames per second, so you can film ultra slow, really high quality slow motion. If you burst a water balloon in someone’s face, you’d be able to see the rubber moving

around the water before the balloon shape disappears. It’s an unbelievable thing. We were all really pushing that to get some cool stuff. What were the highlights? MacAskill Watching Daniel and Martin in action in a skatepark was just crazy. We’d turn up to local skateparks in the middle of Stockholm, and the kids would just be cruising about and suddenly Daniel Dhers and Martin Söderström would turn up and I would just sit on the sidelines, watching. It was so funny seeing the looks on the kids' faces. Daniel would just drop in, do maybe two airs and then fire a flair downside tailwhip or something. The kids just couldn’t believe their eyes – it was so cool. I think I was there with the kids as well – my eyes open with the same surprise! Söderström Most of the islands are just rocks, but it worked out on every island – we could find something to ride on. I think my favourite spot was probably one of the islands where the military had concreted the whole island for military use. It was like a concrete park on an island, with transitions everywhere. […] It was

amazing going to different spots with Danny, just riding along the streets and looking at him going on fences and over fences and riding things that you don’t really think about if you’re not a trials rider. He did a really big gap on to a boat from the [jetty], and that was crazy. […] Daniel Dhers is a machine in the park. He turned up and killed it straight away. It was really cool to see. It was like watching an X Games round every time he dropped in. Dhers Danny and Martin were both seriously non-stop. Martin does dirt-jumping and park and street, which is stuff I kind of relate more to, but it’s really crazy to see him do what he does on a mountain bike – it's huge! And then Danny, he really impressed me, because I’ve never really seen anything like that before. I would maybe not look at a spot twice and he would find the line and just jump, all the way to hell! […] On one of the days we rode, I guess it was at a school, there was a little spine made out of concrete, and we ended up filming clips, where all three of us were jumping onto, over and into it. That was one of my favourite spots







The average avalanche rescue takes longer than your 15-minute air supply lasts. By pulling air from the surrounding snowpack, the AvaLung allows you to breathe for nearly an hour, increasing your odds of survival.

As action sports go higher and more gymnastic than ever before, the athletes at the top of the game are ditching unpredictable natural terrains and embracing manmade parks where boxes, pipes and wedges facilitate the perfect lines. But how extreme can it get? POC Mag goes in search of the builders, shapers, riders and renegades that are taking action sports to the next level. WORDS JASON HORTON & SHELLEY JONES

kateboarding was born when Californian surfer kids sought to emulate the sensation of waveriding on dry land. As skaters progressed, so too did the terrain. Urban pools inspired sprawling concrete skateparks and later, vert ramps. But Zach Wormhoudt, son of legendary park pioneer Ken Wormhoudt, thinks parks should stay true to their organic roots. “Our parks respond to the site conditions; slope, soil, water table, sun azimuth, wind.” says Zach, a big-wave charger with a Billabong XXL award. “We work with local [riders] to evolve ideas. Innovation and quality are key. We stay away from the typical skatepark feel to create fun and challenging places to ride.” Dreamland, a hardcore crew of bowl rats who made the Burnside park in Portland, Oregon, have an equally grassroots philosophy: build a park that you would want to skate. The resulting transitional labyrinths are pretty intimidating, but there is a perfect logic in place: it’s safer to fall on a big transition than a small one, and to even hit the lip means you’ve built up the skills and experience necessary to reach it. Scotland-born BMX rider and park designer Dave Sowerby recently collaborated with Nike 6.0 on a project called ‘The Pool’ – a wood park in a derelict swimming pool in Dagenham, UK.

“The park had to flow like a pool does,” says Dave. “I also designed a series of rhythm jump boxes [for the Unit23 skatepark in Dumbarton last winter] that were intended to feel like dirt jump trails. The feeling of flowing through trails and the sensation of rhythm as you ride through them is something that you don't often find in indoor parks.” A perfectly linked series of bowls may be pleasing to the eye, but it’s the banks, ledges and rails of the streets that have emerged as the dominant influence in public skatepark design, with authentic ‘plaza’ style setups becoming more ubiquitous. “I think it's an exciting time for park design,” says Dave. “Ramps continue to get bigger like the Megaramp in the X Games. Street plazas are moving away from transitions and bowls in favour of natural street obstacles like stairs, handrails and ledges. I think park design is still in its infancy and there is opportunity for more sculptural and organic flowing parks instead of the geometric ones of the past.” Zach agrees: “Skateparks will continue to evolve and push into more creative places; multiuse parks, which the entire community values and recognises as [culturally] important. Bigger is not better, it's about subtle design solutions that provide sustainable skating environments.”

Right: The Ken Wormhoudt skate park, Santa Cruz, built in 2007.


Heather Chen

Dan Brown

ixty-degree fluted spines in Alaska. Handrails in Helsinki. Superpipes in California. Fridges in Milton Keynes. Since the beginning, it’s always been this way – riders sometimes outgrow their allotted terrain. Shaper, builder and course designer David Ny, from Sweden, has seen the evolution of the riding landscape firsthand. “It's changed a lot, especially in the last five years,” says David who builds parks for the Winter Olympics, Terje Haakonsen's Arctic Challenge, FIS World Cup events and the extreme King of the Hill comps. “We're into steeper landings and take-offs, which are pretty set at eighty degrees, giving you more airtime. With big jumps, we're talking speeds of ninety kph when they hit the take-off, then they fly thirty metres forward and ten metres up. But it has to be really safe.” From shovelling snow with hands to ploughing hills with giant pipe-cutting machines, park features, and the athletes who ride them, have scaled up dramatically. “In the nineties the pipe machines came in with bigger transitions, and now we have the superpipe,” says David. “The riders are really picky and I understand it; they're flying so high and so big, doing triples, or whatever, and it has to be perfect. It's small margins for landing when you're up five metres in the air, it's scary. […] I think we've reached the limits in pipes, I don't think we're going to get any bigger. If you look back to 1998, before I started working with the Olympics, the pipe was twelve-foot, then in Salt Lake it was fifteen-foot, Torino was eighteen-foot, Vancouver was twentytwo-foot and now Russia will be twenty-two-foot again.” But the higher you go up, the harder you come down. “Some crazy guy always wants to go bigger,” says David. “But the body's not going to take much more impact, so they'll need special skis or boards or something. I'm a little bit tired of all the hucking around. […] It just gets a little bit boring with all the gymnastics.” For David, the natural terrain should be at the root of all riding: “You have to look at and feel the terrain. […] I'm more into building Snowboard X courses these days, it's more creative and more of a challenge. You have to build jumps, rollers and bank-turns that go with the terrain – there's more to play with.” And the industry is starting to take note. “I'm going to Chile to make a backcountry slopestyle course for skiing's Freeride World Tour,” says David. “It's basically gonna be a big mountain with a good slope. We'll build some take-offs in the backcountry and then the skier will just try and hit them. You drop into a cliff and maybe hit a quarterpipe or a wind lip or a step-up – just some fun [combinations]. It's going to be a challenge to build.” Consistency and repetition can suffocate creativity. For a rider like Gigi Rüf, it's the interaction between man and natural terrain that defines style in snowboarding: “Where I came from, a park or a halfpipe was only to be found with creative interpretation of the terrain surrounding us,” Gigi says. “The terrain you find dictates the tricks, from avoiding previous bomb holes to having an adjustable trick repertoire ready. Riding the un-groomed is to picture what’s ahead.”

Left: A new superpipe at Killington, Vermont, launched during the 2011 Winter Dew Tour.


here’s always another wave coming,” goes the old Hawaiian saying. Only problem is, there’s always another surfer trying to catch it. One of the things that makes surfing the most frustrating thing ever is its catch twenty-two: you don’t get many waves until you’re good, and you don’t get good until you’ve caught many waves. And, while the amount of surfers getting in the water is increasing exponentially, the amount of surfable waves is exactly the same as it ever was. Small wonder then, that we’ve been trying to develop a man-made alternative for decades. One method could be to enhance what the sea offers. This was attempted with limited success in Bournemouth, UK, where huge sandbags were laid down 250 metres off the coast to create an artificial reef, only to find factors like wind, swell direction and quality were just as critical. To guarantee good surf, we need to create our wave environment from scratch – in a pool. Enter the wave pool, in which a ‘real’ wave is created by releasing a huge volume of water into one corner of a pool. These waves, to be found in select waterparks around the world (the closest is in Tenerife and the biggest is the Sunway Lagoon in Kuala Lumpur) are, at worst, an impressive fake, and at best an improvement on ocean waves – because every wave is identical to the last. This allows surfers to focus a hundred per cent on the execution of tricks. For surfers like Coco Ho, pools create a level playing field: “It’s going to take a while, but eventually, done properly, it will mean who’s best, wins. I would love to try a WCT event in a wave pool one day. And then we could be in the Olympics and X Games.” Others, like The Surfer's Path writer Drew Kampion, disagrees: "This is not surfing except in its most limited sense… ninety per cent of surfing is paddling out among the elements, breathing in the negative ions in the sea air – and wave machines fail to capture any of that." Negative ions aside, economics plays a huge part in this story. Wave pools are expensive and slow to run, (Kuala Lumpur’s costs €250 per hour, with three minute gaps between waves) and don’t adequately supply the growing demand. What city-dwelling surfers need, is a wave pool that cheaply and efficiently produces lots of waves.

Which is where Australian surfboard shaper Greg Webber comes in with his revolutionary concept for a circular wave pool with an island in the middle – around which peel multiple, continuously breaking waves. The waves are generated by five hulls driven along the outer wall of the pool, displacing water in the same way that a boat generates a wake. In theory (and that's all it currently is) Webber has cracked it: “Models in the past have failed because if you don’t have a lot of waves you’ve got to charge a lot per ride. With my cylindrical model you can give 2,000 people ten to twelve perfect thirty-second waves in a day – that’s how it will be a money-maker.” While Webber’s system appears to strike a balance between authenticity and efficiency, some might equate surfing laps in the pool as a slightly more evolved version of being a hamster on a wheel. Wouldn’t it be good to take this elegant system out of its closed loop and into a more natural, open one? This is just what French wave-generation engineers Wave Garden have done. They've built a submerged water-displacing system that can be applied to a wide range of existing bodies of water, including lakes, lagoons, reservoirs, ponds, and man-made pools. And, while Webber’s design remains an idea – albeit a brilliant one – Wave Garden's brainchild exists, in a secret location in the Basque countryside. The makers claim the waves can be tuned to suit surfers of all levels, in all kinds of locations. But, the real question is, how does it surf? Well, pro surfer Bobby Martinez seemed impressed, Tweeting, "Found a goofy footer’s dream yesterday! Let me put it like this... the window never closes!”

�erfecting �mperfectio� ne day, we will succeed in building the perfect wave, the perfect jump, the perfect park. Then what? Ocean waves, city streets and mountains do not adapt to us, we adapt to them. We react to their unpredictability, adapt to what they send our way. And so we will seek out what we have lost. We will begin the job of adding imperfection – the missing element of surprise

Right: A left-hander peels across the pastoral landscape at Wave Garden, Basque Country, 2010.


Wave Garden


�kiing's 'boy wonder' Bode Miller embraces the next stage of life. WORDS CYRUS SHAHRAD


Eric Schramm


espite moving in circles of the world’s best skiers and knowing most of its best slopes better than his own back yard, in April 2011, Bode Miller found himself shunting down the scrappy, unforgiving runs of Cannon Mountain in rural New Hampshire with a group of kids, stopping regularly to offer advice to those having trouble with their turns. This was the seventh annual Bodefest, and it raised over $30,000 for the multi-World Cup and Olympic medal winner’s Turtle Ridge Foundation – a charitable enterprise promoting environmental issues and offering recreational activities to disadvantaged children. It also brought America’s best-known skier back to one of its lesser-known towns. Cannon is part of the sprawling state park surrounding Franconia, a diminutive settlement of barely 1,000 residents, which is encircled by forests and was once home to the hardy rural poet Robert Frost. In 1977, it also welcomed Samuel Bode Miller, whose semiwild childhood has been the subject of countless articles attempting to explain the unconventional man he grew into. Bode’s parents famously shunned the trappings of modern life; he and his siblings were raised in a cabin without electricity or plumbing, cooked on a wood stove and celebrated solstices. Bode was homeschooled until the age of nine and was expected to help out with chores, but he spent hours every day wandering the forests surrounding their home, developing a natural philosophy in which seizing the day was central. “My parents didn’t regulate me in terms of making me do stuff. I did school work and I did chores, but it was more of a team effort, because we all knew that without doing our share we wouldn’t

survive. So I had an idea of my responsibilities, but beyond that I was pretty much left to enjoy my time the way I chose to. And that’s an attitude that I’ve taken pretty seriously ever since. I try to minimise the things I don’t want to do and maximise the things that I do want to do. I don’t live by the standard notions of working through guilt and delaying gratification: I try to make it all happen at once, all of the time.” By the age of four, Miller had taken that attitude to the slopes of Cannon Mountain. Too small to be taken under the wing of the local ski bums, too stubborn and speedy to join children’s teaching groups, he skied alone day after day, season after season, and in doing so developed the unconventional style that remains his trademark: leaning back rather than forward as he barrels down the hill, all six-plus feet and 200-odd pounds of him straddling the knife edge, separating control from chaos as he performs tighter turns than most would think possible. Even in his youth, that approach brought him into regular conflict with traditionalists, who warned that his career would flounder unless he refined his technique – arguments he encountered first from coaches on the local ski team and later at Carrabassett Valley Academy in Maine, a school famous for turning talented skiers into polished Alpine performers. They were arguments that Bode studiously ignored. Convention wasn’t in his vocabulary, and he ruffled feathers at Carrabassett both on the slopes and off them, refusing to rewrite papers and shouting down a teacher who wouldn’t let him into the high school prom wearing sandals, and eventually leaving with a certificate of attendance rather than a diploma. Yet, it wasn’t long before Bode had an opportunity to prove the wisdom behind his refusal to conform. He remembers his first World Cup in 1997 as the turning point: despite starting almost at the back of the seventy-one racers in the line-up, Bode careered down the mountain with trademark disregard for decorum and managed to come twenty-second – an unthinkable achievement for an American rookie. His coaches urged him to tone it down for the next run – all he needed was a safe finish to protect his points – but Bode, true to form, ignored them, screaming down the hill even more recklessly than before. He finished the competition in eleventh place, forcing the conservative US Ski and Snowboard Association to grudgingly admit that they might have a prodigy on their hands. “After that competition I realised that nothing was out of the question. I’d always known that I



Jon Margolis

could make something of my life, that if I worked hard I could outlive the poverty I’d grown up in and make skiing pay for itself. But at that point it became about something else. At that point I realised that I could compete against the best in the world and win, although I knew it wouldn’t be an overnight thing.” An overnight thing it was not. It wasn’t until the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City that Bode broke into the public consciousness, cementing his status as the sport’s rebellious rock star by winning a silver in the combined before flying to LA to shoot the breeze with Jay Leno, then jetting back to SLC and scoring another silver in the giant slalom. And he sealed the deal with his own Cool Runnings-style cinema ending after going for gold in the slalom, skidding out early and – instead of calling it a day – hiking up to retake the gate, revealing a humanity and a sense of sporting dignity worth more than any haul of medals. “Someone like Shaun White competes at an extremely high level, but at the same time you don’t get the feeling that he’s ever operating outside of his comfort zone – he’s just that much better than everybody else. With me, it’s about more than success measured in medals. In 2002, people saw that I was about sticking to my convictions, about operating in a way that made me feel proud regardless of what the general public or the objective results said.” But if it was Bode's raw humanity that made him a national hero in 2002, it was also what saw his stock plummet at the Turin Olympics in 2006. Buoyed by one of the largest publicity campaigns in the history of professional skiing – his face having graced the covers of international magazines, his outspoken opinions the subject of heated debates between those who loved him and those who loved to hate him – Bode failed to perform. Of the five disciplines he entered, he crashed out of two, finished fifth and sixth in another two, and was disqualified from one. All of which might have been forgiven were it not for rumours that he was whiling away the evenings drinking in bars. Bode spoke at the time of “partying and socialising on an Olympic level”, comments that compounded the sporting world's frustration at a previous interview that Bode gave to 60 Minutes in which he flippantly boasted of having skied as a youth while intoxicated. Bode admits that it was a PR disaster resting as much on his attitude as his failure to bring home medals, but he remains unapologetic. “I don’t like to be put in a position where people believe that their expectations supersede


my own, and that’s what happened. I felt like I earned my spot there – it wasn’t gifted to me. The responsibilities you have as an Olympian are those you expect of yourself: you don’t owe anyone some bullshit interview about giving it 110 per cent or what an honour it is to be there. Those are the convictions that I value, and I can’t really act like I’m sorry, because they’re my biggest strengths. When you perform well, people are willing to overlook that sort of thing; when you don’t, that disdain for other people’s expectations comes off as arrogant and obnoxious.” Regardless of public perception, the experience of Turin left a lasting mark on Miller who, after successful 2006 and 2007 World Cup tours, left the US team to race independently as part of his own Team America – a move he ascribes to having long wanted to put some of his own management theories to the test. But it’s hard not to imagine he felt a degree of relief in shaking off the nation’s expectations. Bode had early success with Team America, winning six events in the 2008 World Cup tour and being crowned overall champion for the second time. But by 2009 it seemed that Bode had hit a wall, reaching the podium only twice and taking a fourweek break from competing between February and March. Even Bode himself admitted in an interview that a fire had gone out somewhere along the line, compounding suspicions that one of America’s most dramatic sporting stories had sputtered ingloriously to a close. Or so it seemed until 2010, when he returned to the US team in time to compete in the Vancouver Olympics.

“In my own mind I’d fully retired: I did no summer skiing, I did no testing, I had no technician. It wasn’t until September that I decided I was going to come back, and that was more of a soul-searching thing. I’m not big on that kind of obligation, but I suddenly realised that I had an opportunity to have a really positive impact on kids, on the sport, on the Olympics as a whole, and that I’d have to be a bit of a douchebag not to accept that responsibility. And I also knew that if I worked hard and pushed myself, I had a really good chance of winning at least three medals.” Miller’s detractors passed it off as yet more bluster and bravado, practising their smug faces for what they felt sure would be another PR disaster. But they were to be disappointed; it was a more measured and mature Bode Miller that stepped out on the slopes of Vancouver, and a more thoughtful and thankful one who finally went home with three medals to add to the cabinet – including the elusive gold in supercombined. Spiteful headlines about ‘Miller Time’ were replaced by those celebrating ‘Miller’s Crossing’; the reckless boy wonder, it seemed, had grown up. And to an extent that remains true. Bode has found a degree of balance in a life that previously thrived on extremes. He has a young daughter, whose wellbeing is now his biggest priority, and he dedicates more time than ever to addressing environmental concerns through his foundation. As for skiing – only time will tell. Miller has repeatedly confounded idle speculation as to his abilities or intentions, which suggests that the only thing to do is sit back and await the next chapter. Because one thing seems certain, Bode Miller’s story hasn’t run its course quite yet


� ripple of interest in th� idiosyncratic fis� shape is spreadin� across the surfboar� world. WORDS SHANNON DENNY PHOTOGRAPHY MARK LEARY




n a factory in the Cornish countryside, not more than two miles from England’s Atlantic coast, a figure faces a great lump of white polyurethane foam held up on trestles. Standing in a layer of snowy dust, he’s surrounded by dark blue walls with a waist-high strip of lighting running around the windowless space. The colour of the paint prevents too much light from bouncing around, and the position of the bulbs illuminates the foam. The room is set up to maximise contrast and make the tiniest shadows visible on the polyurethane’s surface. A shadow indicates a bump, and this must be smoothed away because after many hours of art, science and graft this mass of plastic and air will become a surfboard, capable of skimming the ocean’s pulses as smoothly as a salmon slices through water. It looks otherworldly to the layman, but Rob Lion is perfectly at home in the shaping room of the Ocean Magic surfboard factory. Here he regularly takes in hand the templates, saws, planers, sandpaper, fibreglass cloth and resin that contribute to the complicated process of making boards. Although mystical alchemists and mad scientists could be seen as distant cousins, Rob isn’t the type to keep his formulae and calculations secret. Instead, he’s keen to share all he’s learned and exchange ideas, which is why he’s currently busy organising a Fish Fry, an event that brings together shapers, riders and fans of the idiosyncratic fish surfboard.

n contrast to many surfing events, a Fish Fry is non-competitive and non-commercial. Fish Fries have already been held in California, Australia, Japan, New York, Italy, Portugal, Florida, England and Ireland and their central mission is to facilitate the exchange of design concepts in and out of the water. This isn’t about winning, losing, buying or selling, it's about celebrating creativity and sharing waves. Such events attract “counterculture revolutionaries and people who just want to have fun”, Rob explains. “That’s what the fish is all about, taking something out in the water that’s going to make you laugh, that’s going to make it all fun again.” In the pantheon of surfboard shapes, the fish is the offbeatbut-charming stepchild of the traditional longboard and the highperformance shortboard. The first modern surfers rode longboards, and refinements over the fifties and sixties made it easier to trim along the face of the wave with panache. Today, longboarding is still all about style. Thanks to their length, width and foam content, these buoyant boards are capable of catching unbroken waves with relative ease. From there you can cruise down the line, cross-step or noseride until you’re hanging all ten toes. Throw in a soul arch – that classic longboarding stance, which sees the surfer leaning back casually – for good measure, and you’ve got the complete logging experience.

Opening page Rob Lion of Royal Surfboards with his signature fish.



But in the late sixties, it was a 5’5” fellow called Bob McTavish whose ideas brought an end to longboard dominance. A shaper since his teens, McTavish is widely credited as being the man behind the shortboard revolution, which saw surfers the world over ditching their heavy watercraft for a lighter, smaller, more agile board. It’s not just about length, though. These sticks of foam are also thinner and narrower. They have more curvature or ‘rocker’, their noses are pointy and they tend to feature a number of fins in contrast to the classic longboard’s single fin. Such a template and set-up equals more radical rides. A shorter board offers enhanced manoeuvrability, tighter turns and the ability to perform on steep, hollow waves. When you see world 'number two' Jordy Smith land tricks like a superman air or a rodeo flip, these are the latest results of McTavish’s vision. The fish emerged on the scene in the seventies, and Steve Lis is said to be the genius behind its creation. It was an experimental little beast from the start, cooked up in the garages of San Diego. Working in a shack in his backyard, he put together a short, flat board with a split tail and twin fins. He christened his 5’4” baby ‘the fish’, and rode it both as a kneeboard and as a stand-up surfboard. Others latched onto the unusual outline and adopted the chubby, stubby template as their own. With a fish, a rider could get

fun tube rides, faster horizontal speed, cutbacks and better performance on small waves. Over time, some of the key features of the fish made their way into mainstream shortboard design. Although plenty of individuals carried on quietly riding fish, the shape faded into the background through the eighties and nineties. Then, around seven years ago, a ripple of newfound interest in the shape started to spread throughout the surf world. What brought about this fish-focused zeitgeist? One factor is a subtle shift in the surf industry in the last few years, which has been helped along by the recession. The big surf brands still run the show, and the pro tour is every bit as bedazzling as ever, but in increasing numbers waveriders are simply exploring other avenues for getting their kicks. “I think we just had twenty-five years of standard thrusters, and people just got frustrated with it – I know I did,” Rob says. It’s an opinion echoed by Grant Newby, who has for several years organised the Alley Fish Fry on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. “Everybody was surfing on a 6’2” by 19” white thruster with black logos, because that’s what the pros were riding,” he remembers. “It became very bland, very boring, very predictable.” The fish, with its oldschool resin tints and hand-foiled plywood fins,

offered an injection of colour into the two-tone corporate landscape. Simon Skelton runs the showroom at Gulf Stream, where shaper Julian Matthews just won UK Fish Shaper of the Year. Pushing three digits, Simon’s quiver of classic and modern surf craft runs the gamut from ply bellyboards to bigwave guns, but he admits he finds himself on fish eighty per cent of the time. “There were a lot of surfers who’d surfed a lot through the years and had been riding 6’3” shortboards since the early 1980s,” he observes. “The whole surfing world was ready for a change. In the last six to eight years there’s been interest in other craft, so that whole stigma’s gone. Fifteen years ago you looked weird if you didn’t walk down the beach with a 6’3” thruster, whereas now you can ride anything and everything.” The fish also works well in less-than-perfect waves, which has helped them spread to far corners of the globe with riders who constantly seek out vaguely surfable spots of coastline. “They’re essentially a smallto-medium wave surfboard design,” Simon says. “They go really well in weak, sloppy waves, and they go fast without any power from the waves – so consequently they make you feel a better surfer than you are!” Another feature that’s pushed fish to the forefront is a renewed spirit for experimentation in the air.


“Yes, there’s an awful lot of shapers out there,” says Grant, ”but the ones who shaped fishes were the innovative shapers, not the ‘me too’ ones. […] Shapers are quite a quirky bunch of people. They are definitely craftsmen and artists. They’re also quite insular in that they spend an awful lot of time by themselves wearing headphones and dust masks, using noisy equipment.” The shape is intrinsically linked to exploring the limits of invention and imagination. Rob explains: “With the fish, it’s a pretty simple formula: 5’6” long, 22” wide, 17” nose, 17” tail, 10 to 12” butt-crack and as flat a rocker as you can get it. You start with that, that’s going to work. And because it’s such an efficient design, it lends itself to experimentation.” This yearning to push boundaries isn’t isolated to the shaping rooms either – you can see it out in the water as well. Gracefully and laconically leading the charge are the Yard Possums, a collective of intrepid So-Cal shredders devoted to bizarre floating devices, from chunks of foam to alaias. If it rips, they ride it. Tyler Warren is another wave renegade currently crafting unidentified sliding objects. He’s best known for his ‘bar of soap’ board, so named for its shape and ability to


supply slippy, smooth carves. He shapes sub-fivefoot planing hulls from stringerless foam blanks, and takes inspiration from Bob Simmons, the legendary post-war shaper and surfer whose twinfin balsa boards were way ahead of their time. Or look to the example of Cyrus Sutton, creator of the surf-centric website Korduroy.tv which is all about promoting a DIY ethos in waveriding. Sutton claims his favourite board is a 4’10” block of foam devoid of fins, stringer or fibreglass. This back-to-basics movement in surfing borrows directly from those heroes of the garage workshops of the last century. Before there were shops to deliver your gear in tidy, stickered and logoed packets, a surfer had to make everything himself. Nowadays, this ethic is driven less by necessity and more by artistic choice. If you believe that surfing is an act of creativity, there’s a current feeling that the flexing of your creative muscle doesn’t just begin and end in making a wave; it can extend to making a board, foiling a fin, making your wax, sewing up a board bag and designing a sticker of your very own. “I think there’s a freedom of thinking,” Grant affirms. “There’s an awful lot of people that are into

music, art, photography and creative expression. So they are not bound by what other people think, and this is a part of their creative expression, to be able to go and surf whatever they like.” “Another significant thing that’s happening is a lot of people are getting into shaping their own surfboards,” he continues. “When you think about it, professional surfers in the past used to shape their own boards. We now have a generation of professional surfers who don’t. But we also have a lot of young guys who are going out there and learning to shape and experiment, so that’s really helpful for the industry.” And this collective movement towards freedom, creativity and innovation is showing no signs of slowing. In the past month alone, Grant has received requests from Hawaii and Brazil to help set up Fish Fry events there. “I can email people I’ve never met and they can come from other parts of the world to a country they’ve never visited before with a whole bunch of surfboards to meet you in a park [because of this common interest],” says Grant. “I mean when you boil it down to that it’s a pretty simple thing but it’s also fairly powerful.” Simple and powerful – just like the fish




Herzog & de Meuron


Dimitrios Stamatis


I don't believe in books on architecture. They are bound to fail and disappear even faster than architecture – which can last for a few generations, even centuries. But like everything else, it goes, it disappears. […] We have, since the beginning, always felt the need for an intellectual and conceptual approach that uses and involves words. […] But I just want to point out that discipline is just what it is. Poetry is poetry, architecture is architecture, literature is literature. We are not so interested in things about things – illustrative things, narrative things – because they use something else to exist.


erzog & de �euron are a Swiss-based architecture practice whose work has imbued city skylines with a unique sense of cultural identity from the Tate Modern, London, UK, and the National Stadium, Beijing, China, to new projects planned in New York and Paris. Jacques Herzog spoke at Harvard recently, and these are some thoughts that free-flowed from his inventive min�.

The great thing about architecture is the sheer experience of it. The immediate, physical experience is what counts and what makes the piece of architecture survive, whether it's made out of paper and wood like an old Japanese imperial palace, which lasts for centuries even if it's fragile, or whether it's a contemporary building or an old medieval church. And this immediate sensation, which involves all the senses, not just the visual senses – not 'reading architecture' so to speak, but really 'living it' – is what we try to underscore.


Stacking is a familiar gesture. It's a very primitive thing to put something on top of something else; it's something that even a young child does instinctively. That has inspired us a lot and lead to many projects. […] And by slightly arranging it in a different way, the familiar gesture becomes figurative because it means you open up something, or you close it down, or you create intimacy. So in a very direct way, stacking is extremely archaic and architectural at the same time.


We have nothing in the drawer, and we've never done the same thing twice, I think. But even if our projects are very different, they also play with each other. These similarities, and this is the paradox that I love so much, because they are so similar, create such a diverse result. I'm more interested in how you can create diversity

in something that seems right for a specific solution, than finding possibilities to establish a norm, or a rule, or a style. We have absolutely no style.


I think it is important that things are out on the table, that you lay them out as though you are cooking. Then you can start to play with them and do ridiculous, childish things. [Experimentation] can lead to unexpected qualities and sometimes you have to reject it and start again. There are really no recipes in how to do architecture, but once it's there, the analytical potential is very important. Once it exists, you can say why it's interesting or not. And we want to have that dialogue.


Architecture is like nature. Some people just see a tree or a house, and that's fine, but if you like, you can see more. You may discover other beauties and other advantages. Complexity is defined through this – if you look at something more carefully you discover something that goes beyond what you originally saw. Architecture has no message, art has no message. If you look at red paint on a wall, you see nothing, but if you look more carefully, you see more. And it's not what the artist wants to tell you, it's whatever you see.


How can we re-think the cities of the future? We are using food as a central point from where we try to understand how cities are organised and shaped. Where do you produce it? How do you produce it? What resources do you use? How is waste dealt with? We’re involved in the world exhibition [Expo 2015] in Milan, under the title, 'How to feed the planet?' which is a huge topic. And we're in touch with the Slow Food movement people, like Carlo Petrini, which is incredibly interesting. It opens your eyes in a way you would never have thought – food as a starting point for understanding everything else For more information check out Herzog & de Meuron 1997-2001: The Complete Works, from BirkhÄuser.com.


�ar above the human eye and lower than the planes fly, aerial photographer Kacper Kowalski shows us another way of looking at our worl�. WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY KACPER KOWALSKI




I grew up in Gdansk, near the sea, and I love the Polish landscape. Sometimes I think it would be nice to live somewhere like California, but it would be boring for photography – every day I'd have the same weather and the same landscape. Here, in Poland, where I still live, every week has different weather, different light, different processes of nature – from winter through to spring. You can see the changes and it's amazing. I began paragliding in 1996, a long time ago, and I don't remember the early days. When I want to fly for fun I go paragliding without an engine – just free-flying through clouds and over the horizon with the wind. When I want to fly for photography I use an engine. With an engine on my back I can fly to almost every site I want to, although some areas are prohibited because of air traffic. When you're flying a jumbo jet, the last thing you want to see is a paraglider taking pictures. I was a competitive pilot for six years and it was very important to me. It was an amazing adventure and a nice way to travel. You could be in India, for example, taking off from a mountain in the Himalayas and travelling sixty or forty kilometres to land in an unknown place, where you have real contact with the real citizens of those places. It's unpredictable where I will land, but the people are mostly natural and happy to see me. Sometimes it's late and I have to sleep in the place where I landed, on a high mountain. It’s a good way to see the world. I've flown from many sites – Vietnam, Australia – and I'd love to fly across many more places, particularly North Africa.

Opening page Circular pieces of ice form as surface slush accumulates into floating pads on the Vistula River, Poland. January 2010. Left A flooded gravel pit near the town of Sandomierz, Poland. June 2010.


In 2005/2006 I quit my job as an architect and started to work full-time as a professional photographer. I think it's visible that I'm an architect, because my pictures are a two-dimensional flat map or drawing of the threedimensional reality that you can see. Also, because of my competitive history, I can fly precisely. I have good orientation. I always know how to fly back and I always know where north is; I have the map in my head, like my own GPS, so it’s easy. With my photography, I’m trying to capture a classic thing in an abstract way. What can I see from above? I can see the landscape, of course, and the nature, and I can see the signs of human activity, like the construction of a highway or a harbour. But it's hard to shoot a story of news or reportage, because those actions happen between people, in close areas, too fast, and there are lots of places I can't fly. There are a lot of situations that I'd like to photograph that I can't because of the conditions. Last year, I had an opportunity to fly over the flood in Sandomierz [Poland]. The town was 100 kilometres under water and I was there for a month. I was flying a lot, very slowly, looking for places to shoot and trying to catch an image that it's impossible to catch from the ground. Most of the challenges in paragliding are small, normal things. When there's a lot of snow, I can't find a place to stop a car and take off. If I want to stop somewhere, I have to dig a place for my car with my hands. After that, I can't launch. I can't run, I can't take speed, so I have to create my own site for takeoff. When it's snowing, it's very cold, so I can only fly for about half an hour before my fingers start to freeze and I have to land to warm myself. When I do it, I take pictures that no one else has, so it’s worth fighting against those weather conditions.

Right The Baltic sea ices over, but water spills out of cracks and freezes into white stains in Pucka Bay, Poland. January 2010.



Air is invisible, so you can't see its power. It’s more dangerous for beginners than for pilots who have a lot of experience, but even if you have something like 3,000 hours in the air, there can be unpredictable [elements] or you can make a small mistake, forget to do a very routine thing, and have an accident. Last year I broke my spine, but the damage was minimal – nothing that will affect the next part of my life. You have to remember that people can fly, but nature designed people to walk. Sometimes I get scared and if I feel like, ‘What am I doing here? Am I crazy?' I will land. Last year, my partner and I bought a gyroplane – a mix between a plane and a helicopter. It looks like it won’t fly, but it does, and it’s amazing. I’m trying not to follow anyone else, because I don't want to lose my own way of seeing. I think that’s important. I don’t want to use the word 'unique', but my vision is very personal and I have to be careful not to lose it. Right now I’m focused on aerial photography. Of course, if I can see something really unexpected on the ground, I will try and capture it, but right now I’m focused on aerial – although I'd like to learn more about film. I hope I'll have the chance to fly in new sites, and do new projects with partners around the world, but Poland is a fantastic place to live. A lot of things have changed during these last years and you can have a nice life here now. I have two kids and I want them to grow up here. As for the future? I don't know. There are so many things that change day-today; I just want to document them, and that’s it

Left A view over a lake in a forest with trees changing colour in Autumn in Kashubia, Pomerania, Poland. October 2010.