High Design Hangs Loose: Beats By Dre Designers Build $3,000 Surfboards

Ammunition and master surfboard craftsman Jason Tilley team up on a line of luxury surfboards.

Ammunition, the design firm behind Square and Beats by Dre, has recently shifted its focus from the tech and corporate world to the open ocean. Ammunition’s travel products startup, Octovo, collaborated with master surfboard builder Jason Tilley to design a limited-edition, hand-crafted line of what they’re calling the “world’s most luxurious surfboards” and bag. High design hangs loose here.


The emphasis is on “luxury”: the cheapest of these boards costs $3,000, about 10 times the price of low-end designs at a place like Costco, and still way more than most higher-end boards, which go from between $800 to $1,200. They’re geared toward serious, design-minded surfers, with disposable income (the assumption is that such surfers exist)–and are constructed to last a lifetime.

“Octovo started as a project to make travel more enjoyable,” Rolandson says. The startup’s first release was a collection of travel tools and leather goods designed to make storage more convenient. “One of the things I wanted to do when we started was use travel-related storytelling as part of the branding of the products,” Rolandson says. When he was introduced to Jason Tilley, who has devoted his life to making wooden sailboats and surfboards in his hometown of Port Orford, Oregon, Rolandson found his work inspirational, and the Octovo x Tilley collaboration was born.

The story of how Tilley makes his boards–just 20 feet from where he and his family sleep, designing custom shapes for his friends and neighbors, using locally sourced materials–is as important to their branding as their sleek aesthetic. They put together a video that provides a behind-the-scenes look into Tilley’s shop.

“One of the first steps in the design process was identifying surfboard shapes that could be used in a range of conditions for traveling surfers,” Matt Rolandson, a partner at Ammunition, tells Co.Design. The five board shapes in the collection were built using Tilley’s method of combining custom-milled wooden skins and hand-shaped foam. The team used Port Orford Cedar sourced from Tilley’s hometown on the Oregon coast. Because of the strength of the wood and finish, the boards are designed to not dent or pressure ding like conventional boards–they’ll withstand the gnarliest of waves.

Bespoke plugs made by a rapid prototyping machine and leash cups cast in bronze or titanium make them more durable and beautiful than most on the market; and bags of Sunbrella, a UV-resistant material, protect their glossy sheens. Ombre painted finishes and graphic touches mean these boards could double as abstract art pieces for display in your living room during off season–and for that price, they better not just spend half the year in your garage.


Octovo x Tilley surfboards are available for purchase from $3,000 to $3,600 here.

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.