Local Made at Space Ninety 8:
Nabil Samadani's SALT SURF label brings a touch of California dreaming to the East Coast, offering bespoke surfboards, skateboards and apparel with a minimalist yet soulful aesthetic. Collaborating with his shaper in Los Angeles, Brooklyn-based Samadani is producing some of the finest boutique boards around. If you're more comfortable on land than ocean, you can still cruise in SALT SURF style with logo tees and sweatshirts, boardshorts and beanies and handcrafted walnut skateboards—all of which you'll find at Urban Outfitters' new Brooklyn concept, Space Ninety 8. Here, we follow Samadani around for the day, from his studio in Williamsburg, to Rockaway Beach.
Photographs by Marcelo Gomes
"Skateboarding is how I get around. I skateboard a lot. These boards are all walnut. We've actually not launched them yet—Urban Outfitters is the first place to sell them. I'm curious to see how people respond."
"For the SALT SURF pop-up at Space Ninety 8, we wanted to create a place for people to hang out and feel removed from the city around them, and to have a feeling of familiarity and nostalgia...reminiscent of a summer at home. There are vintage surf magazines, The Endless Summer playing on TV and all the pieces in the space were either found, purchased at thrift stores and on eBay or from our personal collection of 'stuff'. Our homies from Rapt Studio, who are also from California, collaborated with us on this project to create a space that represents our ideal of what an old California surf garage would look like. It was a very personal project for us."
"Certain surf shops won't carry boards that aren't made from glass from a certain glassing factory, which is interesting to me. There's a lot of loyalty in the surfing world, which I understand—when you're buying a surfboard it's a big investment and you want to know you're buying quality product. People tend to stick with what they know, so that's a challenge, but at the same time you find people who are early adopters, who are down to try something even if they don't really know what it's about. Maybe it doesn't have the recognition, but they're stoked on that. Early on we definitely had people who liked the idea of being the first and a lot of those people became return customers, which is a really good feeling."
"I do everything—it's pretty much a one-man show. When I come into the studio, usually I have an intern that comes in a few times a week and we have a little ritual here: We make coffee together and check-in about what needs to be done. There's a lot of work that nobody wants to do and then there's the fun stuff, so I always like to try and mix the two. For breakfast I go to the bodega across the street and get a breakfast sandwich. There's absolutely no nutritional value in there [laughs]. I'll do that and get a coffee. In the summer I try to go for a surf three or four times a week. For me, when things get hectic, surfing is the perfect thing. It's like my yoga."
"I love surfing in Hawaii, on the North Shore of Oahu. If you've been to Hawaii you'll get it. It sounds like such an obvious place, but it's exactly what you want it to be: Warm water, good waves, and the people are friendly. Warm water makes such a difference. There's something about cold water that makes me feel like I'm going to die [laughs]. When I surf in the winter everything except for my face is covered—I Vaseline my face."
"The surf culture in New York is on one hand very different than anywhere else, and on the other hand, exactly the same. The difference is that in New York we sometimes take the train to get to the beach, the water is often filled with people from all over the world who are trying to find a piece of home here in New York, and you can get artisanal pizza right on the beach. The reason most of the surfers in New York are surfing is because of their love for the ocean, and ultimately that is all that matters."
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