Candid shots and crumpled subway cards: this new book is an ode to ’90s skating

The recently founded multidisciplinary collective World Artifact Society has just come out his manifesto

It’s been 20 years since Avril Lavigne dropped out”sk8er boi”, in which the track’s protagonist dancer bleats over a skateboarder who isn’t good enough for her – with his baggy clothes and punk demeanor. Fast-forward VHS-style to the end of the video, though, and Lavigne’s freewheeling anthem muse takes center stage, with the aforementioned dancer kicking herself for always turning him down. In the two decades since its release, the track not only still stands as a banger, but has also become a clear metaphor for the ascension of skate culture itself, which has exploded from underground subculture to high-fashion musician.

Now, skateboarding is big business, becoming the springboard for premium streetwear — like hyper-promoted brands Supreme and Palace — to branch out and reclaim its space in the mainstream. High fashion, meanwhile, has also made its moves to secure a lucrative place among trend-conscious skaters. Brands such as Louis Vuitton have long offered their own boards, while Fendi entered the scene with the SS23 show by debuting his own skateboard. Others have reclaimed the sporty style, with Margiela’s MM6 line channeling a skater aesthetic for SS23, and JW Anderson taking things a little more literally – the designer’s offering for Summer ’23 included a a mohair sweater with a bridge broken in half tied to his chest.

But while the fashion houses continue to dig in and appropriate the culture of skating, it’s the real skaters who know how to excite their community. Case in point is the recently founded collective World Artifact Society – a community of seven skaters who have come together to launch a publishing label founded on the subculture’s ties to fashion, music, design and art. A mix of art directors, cinematographers, photographers and team managers, it’s skating seen through a fish-eye wide-angle lens.

“We are seven friends who have become adults and professionals working in the art field,” explains member and photographer David Luraschi. “Last year we set out to develop a brand that was more of a publishing label, so we could produce specific items that speak to our history or our perspective today.”

The first object to delete is a book of the same name serving as a sort of manifesto – a gateway to the vision of the World Artifact Society, and a kind of keepsake dedicated to kids who grew up in the 90s. “We reached out to skateboard photographers and older skaters of the time, and also scanned and found some archival materials from different sources,” says Luraschi. Described as the “genesis” of the collective, its pages are filled with endless paraphernalia of the era: from candid skater photos and crumpled subway tickets, to hissed cassette tapes and kaput lighters.

There are also many references to the 1977 cult film Cet Obscur Objet du Desirwith esoteric French film graphics and delightfully retro typefaces blown up through a capsule of oversized T-shirts and sweatshirts. “We’re really trying to develop clothing and objects that accompany people in their daily lives,” says Luraschi. “We want to explore types of objects that we wouldn’t necessarily have made before.” Echoing object-focused design brands such as Benjamin Edgar Gott – who applies his design to everything from mouthpieces to shoes to coat hangers to sculptors’ stools – the collective’s goal is to pipette skate culture into a petri dish alongside external bodies and see what develops . Though careful to stay focused on the exact items in the pipeline, Luraschi anticipates that WORLD AS is currently creating handcrafted leather goods and jewelry, with more to come.

“Skateboarding is a mix of athletics and artistic expression. As you get older you probably aren’t doing the same athletics, but that kind of appreciation as a skateboarder may slowly evolve into an appreciation of design in general” – David Luraschi

While we’ve all gotten into skater fashion and music, design – physical, rather than graphic – is a new approach, and something Luraschi feels is underrated. “Skateboarding is a mix of athletics and artistic expression,” he says. “As you get older you probably aren’t doing the same athletics, but that kind of appreciation as a skateboarder could slowly evolve into an appreciation of design in general.” Comparing it to architecture, Luraschi believes skaters see the world differently. “I feel like there are a lot of images that the public [hasn’t been able to] to discover. There was a lot of handicraft production – it’s still an unknown factor, I think.”

As a curatorial project, therefore, World AS is reflective. “25 years have passed since the mid-1990s,” Luraschi says. “So it’s quite cool to revisit some of the visual culture that we were diving into at the time.” Equally though, the collective is looking ahead with its contemporary approach, swinging 180 degrees between the golden era and the skaters of the future. Showing its investment in the present, World AS has begun sponsoring outstanding skaters, including Reece Knobloch, and plans to “collaborate with all kinds of people.” With Luraschi concluding our chat by rattling off a potential hit list of professions and influences – painters, philosophers, cinema, artisans among them – it’s clear we should be keeping an eye out for that petri dish in the days to come.

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