He initially went to Canada to snowboard, but now combines his passion for the sport with his design talents. Curve caught up with Cant to find out more about his chosen career.

Obviously you have a passion for snowboarding. What is it that you enjoy about designing snowboards?

One thing I really enjoy about designing snowboards is that I get to see people on the mountain riding and having fun on a product that I played an integral part in producing.

At Option, I get the opportunity to develop products with some of the most talented people and snowboarders in the industry. We do a lot of testing and prototyping of new designs and materials, which adds an extra dimension to my work.

The manufacturing side of the business is exciting; designing how all the parts go together, the different moulding and construction techniques as well as developing machinery and processes.

Interacting with young enthusiastic people is a good aspect of the job. In this work, it’s a team thing and there is so much passion around you that most of the time its doesn’t even feel like you are working. The guys I work closely with would be developing products, like we are, in their spare time if they had any!

I enjoy seeing the sport develop and it’s great to be a part of it.

Do you design the graphics?

No, I don’t design any of the graphics but I am part of the graphic approval process and I work with graphic designers in developing materials and processes so that the desired result is achieved.

We have two graphic designers on the team and one graphic production assistant. The two graphic designers do most of the work themselves and out – source the rest. They are always looking for submissions from other artists and graphic designers for board graphics.

Do you design the snowboard bindings?

Yes, I have been involved in the design and development of bindings. I haven’t had as much involvement in previous years but this year Luke Elburn and I are responsible for the design of the 2005-2006 binding line-up and we are also working on a proposal for a 2006-2007 concept binding.

Our 2004-2005 bindings should currently be on sale in Australia. Australians get to purchase Option boards and bindings before any other country we sell to.

Are you utilising any new materials, shapes or surface finishes?

Our design and research and development department are always creating something new. This year we spent quite a bit of time developing our own fibre orientation using a 0o, -30o, +30o matrix.

We are developing new cores for our higher end models that will hopefully trickle down into the more standard models over the next few seasons.

We have been playing around with aluminium, Aramid honeycomb materials and different combinations of wood species (such as endgrain balsa, aspen, poplar, and obeche), which are placed strategically in different parts of the board.

We use selected wood laminates that are selected into categories based on weight and moisture content. Wood is a traditional core material for snowboards. A tip to tail wood core has always been a good selling point.

Top sheets are a very important component of the snowboard. The top sheet holds the graphic element on the top of the snowboard.

We have recently introduced a new process to our Vancouver factory where we press the board, cut it out and almost finish it, then sand the top to remove the glass fibre impressions on the top sheet.

The board then goes through the clear coating line and ends up with a super high gloss finish. This new process opens up the possibilities for printing. It means that we can back print, top print and die cut the clear top sheet material.

It also means that we can inlay metals, wood veneers and so on, onto the top of the board and incorporate them as graphic elements. This is going to be incorporated into our 2005-06 line up.

You mentioned an interest in manufacturing, how does this help your design work?

The majority of the snowboards that we build are built in a way that the industry describes as “sidewall” construction. We have developed our own technology that is designed to increase the strength and durability under edge impact.

It comprises of Aramid fibre on top of a steel edge/under the sintered ultra high molecular weight polyethylene sidewall and carbon fibre on top.

Board shape is another area that we put a lot of focus on. Over the past couple of seasons we have developed a couple of interesting designs that incorporate tapering towards the tail of the board. We call this Pintail.

The two boards of interest are the North-shore and the Pintail. These boards have flared noses that create extra lift in deep snow.

On a regular board the rider would have to lean back on the board to try and keep the nose up and out of the snow where as these boards allow you to remain centred over your stance and are easier on the legs.

It also means that you can ride a smaller board in deeper snow and have increased manoeuvrability, which is great when you are riding through the trees. The boards also perform extremely well on the hard pack snow.

With the flared nose it means that once you lean onto your edge to turn you are already into the turn. It’s very easy to ride and because of this the concept has been introduced into the entry level free-ride boards.

How would you compare working in Canada to Australia?

It’s hard to say. Every place you work is different but the culture and way of life is very similar to Australia so it’s an easy fit. However I think being an industrial designer over here is a little tougher than in Australia.

There doesn’t seem to be as much understanding for the profession. It doesn’t seem as well recognised, appreciated and promoted as it is in Australia.

Are Australians familiar with Option boards?

Yes, Australians will know about Option Snowboards. From what I see and hear, Option is one of the three most popular snowboard companies in Australia at the moment.

I went home to Australia in August last year and visited a few stores. I was really surprised to see how excited people were about the brand and how well it was received.

Where does Option fit in the snowboard industry?

Option is not the biggest player in the industry but we have a very good reputation. Our product is well respected by the industry and has some of the best boards on the market.

I would say we are a medium sized company. Option is one of the largest snowboard brands in Canada and one of our biggest selling points is that we have our own factory where we produce around half of our models.

We are a true snowboard company as we only design and manufacture snowboards and snowboard bindings, unlike a lot of other companies that started as ski brands and now produce both. This is often very important to the consumer.

It seems to pay off because Snowboard Canada Magazine recently compiled a Canadian retailer survey that rated Option at number four (from thirty-five companies) in the top men’s board brands and number three (from twenty-five companies) in the women’s brands. 
 

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