Mason St. Peter at he and his partner, Serena Mitnik-Miller's Los Angeles cabin. Photo by Ron Thompson
Mason St. Peter at he and his partner, Serena Mitnik-Miller's Los Angeles cabin. Photo by Ron Thompson

Inside Indoek’s “Surf Shacks”

New book looks inside some of surfing's most stylish abodes

If you’re a omnivorous social media consumer, you’ve probably stumbled upon surf and lifestyle blog Indoek’s great series, Surf Shacks. The features take an inside look at some of the more idyllic and interesting abodes of surfers around the globe, from Santa Barbara shaper Ryan Lovelace’s bitchin’ bus to East Coaster Dean Petty’s coastal Nova Scotia beauty to Kassia Meador’s California hideout, to even our esteemed Photo Editor, Grant Ellis’ lovely family home.

Today, Indoek released their new beautiful book from the series, Surf Shacks: An Eclectic Compilation of Creative Surfers’ Homes from Coast to Coast and Overseas through Gestalten. We got ahold of the book’s editor, Indoek’s Matt Titone, to discuss the project.

We’re looking forward to getting out hands on the new book. We’ve loved the series online. How did that come about?

The project first came about back in 2013. We were trying to come up with more of a consistent feature on the blog, like our Mixtape Monday series. Something that our audience could expect to see on a regular basis and look forward to.

We love surf culture and wanted to celebrate the stuff that goes on outside of the water. Showing where some of our favorite creative surfers live just seemed like a natural thing for us to do, so we started reaching out to people we knew for good leads.

Raimana Van Bastolaer’s home in Papara, Tahiti. Photo by Ron Thompson

You have such a diverse cast of characters. What did you guys look for when finding people to feature?

First and foremost, these are all surfers. They don't have to be a pro or anything, but everyone who is featured in the series is passionate about surfing and isn't just decorating their home accordingly. Aside from that, a subject would have to live in a unique home and/or do something creative and inspiring for a living.

Other than that, what we really look for is diversity in personalities and living spaces whenever possible. Surfers can be an eclectic bunch and we wanted the project to reflect that in some way. This isn't all about showing high-end, modern architecture, or surfers living in literal shacks or vans. We try to feature a range of homes from cabins to city apartments, to tropical bungalows and the occasional baller pad by the beach.

Kaia Ellis, surrounded by her dad, Grant’s quiver, at their home in San Diego. Photo by Ron Thompson

Whose homes surprised you?

When we first started the series, we had a list of the usual suspects to hit up and feature. They were sort of the people everyone in the "creative surf community" knows about and would expect to be in a series like this. Then I went to Japan, on my honeymoon, actually. I brought my camera with me, but the last thing I expected to do was shoot anything for Indoek. I asked my buddy Jake Burghart for some recommendations of stuff to do while over there, and he immediately put me in touch with a woman named Hiromi Matsubara, who lived in Chiba. But my wife and I were planning on going to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kamakura.

Hiromi was so nice. She gave us such good advice on where to go and kept trying to persuade us to come visit her in Chiba. We finally just took her up on the offer and extended our trip to visit her. She took us in, and we stayed at her awesome home in the woods, cooking us these incredible macrobiotic vegan meals and showing us all around her community in Chiba. It was the best hospitality I've ever experienced in my whole life — and I've lived in the South!

Anyway, she had an awesome home that is a quintessential "Surf Shack" in every way. It was so serendipitous that I had my camera with me on the trip and we had just started the series. It was also remarkable to me how truly unique her home and community were over there in Japan, but also how similar that way of life was to, say, a coastal town in California or even some east coast towns here in the U.S.

She also introduced me to her neighbor who lived in the backyard of his own coffee shop in three vintage Airstreams put together and who had a ridiculous quiver of ’70s single fins. It was crazy. So there were two stories that were not planned — and to me were so unique and intimate. That has been the beauty of the project in my mind: getting out and meeting new people in their literal comfort zone, their home.

Was their a particular favorite or surprising aspect or feature in one of the spaces?

There are so many, it's tough to pinpoint just one. I would say a couple personal highlights for me have been Randy Hild's mid-century home in Laguna Niguel and Jess Bianchi's beach cabin that was custom built by Jay Nelson. Both homes are super inspiring to me for different reasons, design-wise.

A spread from Surf Shacks, featuring filmmaker Jess Bianchi, and his wife, jewelry maker and artist, Malia Grace, inside their North Shore Kauai cabin, built by Bay Area artist Jay Nelson. Photo courtesy of the publisher

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.

If you could get one surfer to open up their doors to you guys, who would it be?

A few folks who come to mind off the bat are Barry McGee, Ozzie Wright, Herbie Fletcher, Julian Schnabel, Geoff McFetridge, or Thomas Campbell. Maybe Lee Clow, too. When I did a stint in advertising, I sat right behind Lee's office at Chiat Day. He had this huge table with all sorts of cool shit on it. Based on that office area alone, I bet his house is awesome.

The thing about documenting peoples' homes though, is you never know what it's going to be like until you see it. Maybe that's obvious, but my point is, I'd rather be surprised by some random person I don't even know about, who was recommended by someone else whose opinion I trust. That, to me, is more exciting than checking the boxes of people I already know who have cool homes because I've seen them before somewhere else.

Who’s publishing the book and where can people purchase it?

Gestalten (out of Germany) is our publisher. You can pre-order the book on their website here and it'll be in select retailers in the U.S. next month.