Rich MoorheadMatt Dougherty • August 25, 2017
Rich Moorhead grew up riding his skateboard on the streets of Pittsburgh, so when he moved to Hanover, Pennsylvania as an adult, he was disappointed to see “there was no outlet for kids to buy and support their love of skateboarding,” he says. At first, Moorhead, who was working in commercial sales at the time, wanted to open his own skate shop to address the issue. But when he noticed all the broken and used wooden boards at local shops (kids today go through two to three a month, he says), it was “an eye-opener for me,” he explains, and another idea was hatched.
Taking the unusable pieces of the decks, Moorhead—who spent his summers working construction and had a knack for carpentry—arranged them in a tile format. After a few more experiments and figuring out how to glue them together, Art of Board was born, with the inaugural reclaimed wood-turned-artisan mosaic still hanging in his office. “I always refer to our palettes as random balance—it’s chaos coming together,” he says. “The scrapes and the gashes, they have direction to them, and many times it’s altering that direction [to create] visual interest and try to keep the story of the skateboarder intact.”
The first installation was for K-Coast Surf Shop in Ocean City, Maryland in 2008. Since then, the colorful porcelain and ceramic tiles have been featured at California Pizza Kitchen, WeWork, Google, Los Angeles International Airport, and SpringHill Suites by Marriott. A recent collaboration with CF Stinson has taken the company on a different journey, capturing the individuality of skating in four fabric collections, including the highly detailed and graphic Chaos; Splice, which reimagines stacked skateboards, revealing their various layers; Storyboard, a complex jacquard that tells the history of skating; and the playful Three60 textile, a reinterpretation of decks cut into quilted circles. “I look for someone who gets our story,” Moorhead says of the partnership. “CF Stinson made it a point from day one that our story wasn’t buried, that our story was right there with theirs.”
Moorhead’s latest wallcovering collection, Beautiful Rebellion, honors the “freedom of expression” associated with skateboarding, featuring patterns informed by the scrapes and scuffs found on well-used boards. It takes “the same foundation, the raw, graphic images from skateboarding” and creates “more sophisticated patterns that left a lot to the imagination and carried our story further than just skateboard tile.” It is, he says, “another leap of faith.”