Tommy Zung, Surfboards
Tread lightly, and know when to adapt. That’s how Tommy Zung balances a holistic lifestyle, a globally recognized design studio, and a collection of surfboards so large it has to be stored on different continents. As the owner of Studio Zung, an eco-luxury architecture, design and lifestyle group, his background in modernism and sustainable living both informs and is informed by his life as a surfer, and incidentally, justifies his over 25 piece collection – every single board was shaped for a unique and specific set of purposes, locations, and waves.
“There can’t be a favorite,” explains Zung. ”Different boards work in different waves.” Hence, why his collection is scattered across the globe. “I surf the summer in the Hamptons, and New York during hurricane season. Then towards early October, I go to Biarritz, Hossegor and San Sebastián. Throughout the winter I surf Malibu before going to Hawaii. Typically in spring, it’s either Bali, Australia or New Zealand because the seasons are opposite.”
The ability to understand, navigate, respect and negotiate weather patterns, geography, ocean conditions and different world cultures is not only part of his skillset as an experienced surfer, but also plays a role in how he approaches architecture and design.
“There are two pillars that inform the way we work,” Zung explains. “One is understanding how to tread lightly in another environment.” This philosophy can be traced directly to his upbringing, traveling to different surf destinations in all corners of the world. “Whether you’re in Tahiti, Mexico, Costa Rica, or Hawaii, you’re integrated into their way of life, way of being, their land. So, you most definitely have to be sustainable and adopt a less-is-more mindset. Otherwise, you probably won’t be allowed back in the ocean.”
The other design pillar can be linked to Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, the great American design giant and Zung’s great godfather. “Bucky was my father’s architectural partner and obviously a huge sustainable forward-thinking guru, ahead of his time.” Fuller’s influence played a part in Zung’s metaphysical level of design and thinking. He also introduced Zung to George Nakashima and Isamu Noguchi – two of the most important designers and artists of the 20th-century modernist movement.
Boards are shaped according to the environment and elements to which they’ll be exposed. It’s a simple philosophy that carries over to Zung’s design philosophy and vision. “Simplicity resonated in terms of sustainability and one’s way of life – surfing is that same thing,” says Zung. “It doesn’t necessarily need to look sustainable aesthetically, but it has to have that honesty and quality.”