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Audi New Zealand Sustainability
“I believe that good innovation incorporates heritage”

“I believe that good innovation incorporates heritage”

Designer, entrepreneur and founder Hayden Cox has revolutionised the surf industry. In this interview he sheds light on his innovative work and talks about challenges and his focus on a sustainable approach.

Copy: Nadia Riaz-Ahmed - Photo: Ole Westermann Lesezeit: 5 min

The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle.

Hayden Cox is standing behind the Audi activesphere at a lake.Hayden Cox is standing behind the Audi activesphere at a lake.

Mr Cox, you founded Haydenshapes Surfboards at just 15 years old and have turned it into an industry-leading brand. What drives your pioneering spirit?
I worked only for myself and learned through experience – and mistakes. I’ve always tried to improve a design or make it better than the last one. Each new surfboard or project is a new opportunity to explore something different or new, and the willingness to explore and try is a key trait to always maintain. Looking for new materials and how they can be applied to a design and improve it has always led me down an interesting path. Innovative ideas help me to develop personally.

Today you are a designer, entrepreneur and surfer – how do you reconcile all that?
I feel that each part plays a role in engaging my various interests in life. Finding ways to challenge myself in each of these areas creates a certain level of fascination. I enjoy the circular approach of starting with an idea, designing and making it, and then going out and surfing to gain the experience and feedback to improve – it’s quite a holistic approach. I have always enjoyed trying new ideas and concepts which has led to innovative progress in my designs that now define the Haydenshapes Surfboards brand.

Innovative progress brings major challenges. What are the biggest ones you face as a designer?
Finding a way to build something is always the biggest challenge. When adopting a new design, technology or material, it takes time to learn the craft of how to apply it. Finding innovative ways to bring a design vision to life can be the hardest part.

Portrait of Hayden Cox.Portrait of Hayden Cox.
A view from the 360-degree panorama sphere of the Audi activesphere concept{ft_concept-vehicle}.A view from the 360-degree panorama sphere of the Audi activesphere concept{ft_concept-vehicle}.

Certainly, there are big risks involved. Have you taken any to move forward?
Innovating and designing the FutureFlex technology and its launch was a big risk, but also a defining moment as a brand. The concept of FutureFlex with the parabolic carbon fibre frame offered a better surfing experience and was a formula that many other brands followed in the following years. It was a big challenge to prove to the industry that consumers were looking for improvements in surfboard technology and that there was a commercial need for innovative surfboards.

With all the innovation, do you still value heritage? Do the two go hand in hand?
I believe that good innovation incorporates heritage. I personally connect with the heritage of surfing, but enjoy seeing where I can integrate new ideas. There is something special about appreciating heritage because at some point we are all part of carrying it forward and evolving it over time.

Hayden Cox is sitting in the Audi activesphere concept wearing AR glasses.Hayden Cox is sitting in the Audi activesphere concept wearing AR glasses.

Using less and making it last longer without compromising performance is one of my key goals.

Hayden Cox

When surfing, there is an inherent connection to nature. What role does sustainability play for your brand?
Sustainability has been a core design pillar that I have been learning about and integrating into our product design and production for the past decade. There are a lot of ways that we have integrated sustainable practices into our processes. We collect the fiberglass and carbon fibre offcuts, which is around 30-40% of the raw material, and repurpose most of it into new fabrics or compounds. Longevity of a product is also key to reducing the carbon footprint created and our FutureFlex technology maintains its flexural response four to five times longer than a traditional surfboard with wooden strands. Using less and making it last longer without compromising performance is one of my key goals.

The steering wheel in the Audi activesphere concept.The steering wheel in the Audi activesphere concept.
Portrait of Hayden Cox.Portrait of Hayden Cox.

Similar to your brand, the Audi activesphere concept*  combines sustainability, performance, digitisation and design. How do you feel about the idea of the future of mobility it embodies?
The automotive industry is in an exciting phase in which all elements of a car are being innovated at the same time. The Audi activesphere concept* is one that I can imagine being perfect for my lifestyle. The concept of using digital technologies to seamlessly allow the car to be used in so many different ways opens up a whole new creative way of living life. I really like how the product design isn’t being compromised by this digitisation, too, but improved in the overall aesthetics and functionality.

The Audi activesphere concept in front of a lake landscape.The Audi activesphere concept in front of a lake landscape.
 
Audi grandsphere concept in a snowy landscape

Your active lifestyle companion

The Audi activesphere concept* takes your active lifestyle to new levels – with exceptional elegance and practicality, immersive experiences through the redefined quattro performance and an unseen body type. Learn more about the new concept car that offers all-terrain performance for high-end outdoor activities– enhanced by AR² and a holistic digital ecosystem.