Skateboarding on Art: Not the Travesty it Sounds Like

Brooklyn-based design studio Magnetic Kitchen is introducing a new line of skateboards
in which the traditional laminated surfaces found on most modern skate decks are eschewed in favor of engraving custom designs into the wood via a high-powered laser. Magnetic Kitchen began when a group of students with diverse backgrounds at Savannah College of Art and Design began experimenting with laser technology in order to realize their artistic ambitions. Continued experimentation with their school’s equipment led the group to purchase their own laser cutter, which they eventually used to explore the artistic potential of skateboarding. Their new line of laser engraved skateboard decks represents the perfection of that process, in which the studio’s best designs are publicly showcased.

The new boards, around which Magnetic Kitchen has organized a Kickstarter campaign, are engraved with designs that manifest a multi-varied inspiration, which Magnetic Kitchen founder Kayla Colaizzi accounts for by explaining that “each [of the founders] pick subject matter that interests [them] . . . coming up with a bunch of different concepts then bringing them all to the table.” The result is as “badass” as Colaizzi describes it: one of the designs seems to fuse Greek mythology with esoteric symbolism (“Polyphemus”) while another invokes a Western-Americana feel with contradistinctive plates of brown geometrically arranged behind a double-barreled shotgun (“Double Barrel”).

Others, such as “Stairway To Hell” and “Kanagawa” are visually paradoxical and can be stared at for hours, adding an important dimension to the new boards, which is their varied functionality. The skate decks would be just as at home displayed on a wall, as they would be under the feet of a skater; and in the latter case, Colaizzi feels that “the scratches, dings and patina [that arise from extended use of the boards] are just as appealing as they’ve ever been on any old board . . . it reflects the skaters themselves,” and therefore, there’s not “a better medium [than skate decks] for art and design that also has a such a functional and useful role as well,” with the accumulated wear and tear giving the board a nuanced and distinctive character, not unlike the way a custom cabinet or piece of furniture metamorphoses into an antique after generations of use.

Skate decks are the current medium that Colaizzi and the team at Magnetic Kitchen have found to conceptualize their inspiration for unique designs, and while that medium more than realizes the inherent talent that fostered the studio team’s spirit it is by no means the end-all of their artistic journey. While originally aiding students in applications and portfolio projects, Magnetic Kitchen has, since it’s inception, routinely fulfilled design contracts for major companies such as Perc Coffee and BFG Communications in Savannah; The Creators Project (VICE) and Madburry Club in NYC; and a number of European clients as well, including a skate deck featuring illustrator Megamunden’s artwork, that will be displayed at the NoWalls gallery in Brighton, UK.

Ultimately Magnetic Kitchen’s “number one priority is to make awesome work that [they] are stoked on and hopefully people enjoy,” which is best reflected in their current line of engraved skate decks, as Colaizzi reflects on how “at the time, no one was doing laser cut skate decks at a consistent and obtainable level at a quality we were happy with,” and moreover, skate decks are “a medium that embodies character and timeless durability through the ages in a cool manner.” From major contracts to niche areas of untapped artistic potential, Colaizzi and the team at Magnetic Kitchen continue to turn out innovative, impressive, and inspirational craftsmanship tailored to a multiplicity of applications both functional and aesthetic.