Looking through the eclectic imagery of unique living spaces and those spaces’ eccentric inhabitants as we put together January’s Rad Pads Issue, it became harder and harder to deny the DNA its contents shared with one particular kindred spirit—the beautifully designed, architecture-porn-in-coffee-table-book-form, Surf Shacks (Gestalten, 2017). Assembled by friend of Void Mag and former Flagler College student, Matt Titone, Surf Shacks casts a wide net to feature homes in locales from Southern California to coastal Maine to Chiba, Japan and St. Augustine, FL.
Born out of a web series Titone created for his Venice-based design studio ITAL/C’s surf-y offshoot, Indoek, the book features interviews with distinctive, international surf personalities such as Tyler Warren, Trevor Gordon, Ryan Lovelace, and Kassia Meador, as well as photos of them inside their respective bohemian/minimalist/lavish/modern/floating soul pads. It’s a bitchin’ book, to be sure! And one that features a couple of rad Northeast Florida-based pads, to boot.
Surf Shacks predated another gorgeous, handheld; a tabloid-sized, hard to qualify zine chalked full of Oldest City-related content, from a black and white photo essay on the famous Alligator Farm to an illustrated history of the Oldest City to profiles of noteworthy Ancient City dwellers spread across 92 large format pages, called simply, The St. Augustine Issue.
With a ITAL/C, Indoek, and two young kids at home, the 37-year old Titone is busy enough without humoring his various passion projects (or participating in interviews about said projects). Yet, he was gracious enough to take some time to answer our queries re: his surf-centric book and the inspiration behind it.
What’s a Surf Shack (both physically and metaphorically)? Does it have as much to do with the living space as it does with its inhabitants?
In my opinion, a “surf shack” is any living space a surfer calls home, it’s not a specific architecture or interior design style. A surf shack could be a little salt box house, a converted van, city apartment, cabin, or a mid-century modern home, as long as it reflects the character and aesthetic of a surfer who inhabits it.
What were some of your favorite shacks and who were some of your favorite personalities?
It’s hard to pick favorites, but I would say a couple personal highlights for me were Randy Hild’s mid-century home in Laguna Niguel and Jess Bianchi’s beach cabin in Hawaii that was custom built by Jay Nelson. Both homes are super inspiring to me for different reasons, design-wise. Randy is a guy who has “made it”. He has such great taste that authentically reflects his love of California design history and surf culture. Jess’s home is like every kid’s dream. It’s like an adult fort and, to me, represents living simply. The reclaimed wood materials and design by Jay make it truly awesome.
Architecture aside, there are the more eccentric or quirky personalities who stand out to me. Andy and Bruce’s uncle, Jim Irons, comes to mind. He is a legend, and his whole story was amazing to tell in the Surf Shacks series. It’s even more special now, since he moved out of his home that he lived in for 40 years (which is featured in the book).
Meeting all these different personalities who I’ve been inspired by — or just meeting someone new who I would have never had the opportunity if it weren’t for this project is by far the best part for me.
You profiled a few in North Floridians with surfy abodes. What’s unique about the surf shacks you saw here?
Yes indeed! There have been a lot of Floridians in the project—even after the book. I think what you see in general (at least from the folks I’ve featured so far) in the the Florida homes is a more laid back, casual aesthetic overall—which is exactly what one might expect from southern beach homes. Justin Quintal for instance has the sort of converted surf van, like a bunch of people out in California, but his is way more reflective of living in the south. It’s raised with bigger tires, etc. There’s just more weather to consider down there. Ty Williams’s place is super unique, it was built on a tiny lot and feels like a tropical treehouse almost, but it is also hurricane and flood proof in its design.