Surf photo by Charlie Gomez Photography.
“Actually, I don’t really have a bookshelf!” confesses surfer-architect Buji Libarnes as we talk to him about giving us a peek into his book collection. “Perfect,” we tell him. “That’s exactly what we need.”
Because books aren’t just for the bookworms–and we do love bookworms! Books affect everybody in common, simple, every day ways. That’s why, today, we talk with ‘Buji Brownlegs’ as he is known to fellow wave-sliders about the creative process that informs his surfing, architecture, and his new surf-inspired apparel line Coast Thru Life.
First: how big a part of your life is surfing? What inspires it? Who and what are your biggest influences?
Surfing plays a huge part in the kind of architect I am now and with the design principles and concepts I have, in who I am today and the way I choose to live. I’m an architect-surfer as much as I’m a surfer-architect.
I’ve always been fond of the ’50s and ’60s, of the good ol’ days when life was simple, when houses were uncomplex and straightforward, and when cars were neat and clean. This fascination greatly affects my design taste. It’s also this same fascination that draws me towards the surfing style of this era, when surfing was basic, fresh, and unspoiled. When people were just happy to be surfing together and having fun.
My biggest influences in surfing are those surfers who get to make something beautiful out of the thing they love the most, individuals who get to channel the energy and inspiration they get from surfing into something positive and creative.
What inspires me in surfing are surfers with good style. Surfers with steeze.
Architecture, clothing design, surfing: all of these have an element of style. How have books helped inform your sense of style?
I’m not really a huge book worm but I can say that design books, along with design magazines play a huge role in forming my sense of style. Whenever I browse through books or magazines and come across very interesting images and designs, I get all excited and inspired and my creative juices are stirred making me want to drop everything and grab a pencil and start sketching and doodling.
Classic films, vintage TV ads and posters, and all the free stuff from the ‘net that you can delight your eyes on such as insipring images from Instagram and priceless videos from Vimeo also play a huge part in my creative process.
Tell us a bit about the creative process when it comes to your architecture
It’s funny, but I’ve been saved by books a dozen times already.
I meet with the client and list down all the needs they have for the project. From these requirements, I try to come up with the best possible layout and design, taking into consideration all the client’s needs, guidlines, the project site, and the location. I try to think 3-dimensionally all the time, trying to merge the floor plans with the overall shape and massing of the structure, making sure the two blend and jive into a 3 dimensional expession of my design thoughts.
Whenever I’m stuck in a corner and can’t seem to find a solution to a design problem that comes along, I try to make it a point to visit a book store (Fully Booked most of the time), skim through a collection of design books, and for sure I’ll see a shape, form, or massing of some sort that somehow just clicks and floods me with ideas, making me walk out the door with a smile and a ‘divine’ design solution in my head.
You are venturing into clothing design with Coast Thru Life. Tell us about that venture.
My fascination for the golden years extends to my fashion sense. I’ve always liked the way they used to dress back in the day when their clothes were always tailored and neat. I’m also very much into the way they used to dress in the beach and the way their trunks looked sharp and short. Being a long-boarder by heart, for me, a classic pair of above the knee shorts is the way to go. They don’t get in the way when you’re surfing (plus they look excellent with a button up shirt and your favorite boat shoes). I’ve always found it very hard to find a good pair of surf shorts that fits exactly the way I want. So I decided to design and have my own trunks made. That’s basically how it all started.
Walk us through your book collection. Tell us a bit about 3 of your favorite books and magazines. Also, what are your favorite surf films?
Case Study Houses by Elizabeth A.T. Smith.
It features low-cost, experimental modern homes in California from 1945-1966. I love how some of these homes were built almost 70 decades ago but are still light years away from most houses built today in terms of good, sensible design.
Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion by Berhard Roetzel
It’s a Christmas gift from my girlfriend Nikki and I think I’ll be getting a lot of helpful tips from this book!
Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer’s Quest to Find Zen on the Sea by Jaimal Yogis
This was a gift from a very good friend of mine from Santa Cruz, CA. I think the title speaks for itself. Each time I read a chapter, it always makes me cry and laugh at the same time.
I also love watching surf films. I never get tired of watching the surf DVDs I have over and over again. I watch a surf clip on my iPod every night before I sleep. Keeps my mind calm.
My favorite surf films are: Sprout, Picaresque, One California Day, Single Fin Yellow, Dear and Yonder, Stoked and Broke, Endless Summer 1, and although I haven’t seen it yet but will surely be one of my favorites, The Heart and the Sea.
Find out about what Buji and Coast Thru Life are up to. If you like what you see, follow them!
Check out this video of Buji Brownlegs doing his thing with style: