L.A. Startup War+Drobe Designs Debuts First Ever Interchangeable Skateboard Faceplate System

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The skateboard has undergone vast structural changes in the past few years to make it a part of the connected world.

Despite the technology being attached to the latest iterations, the skateboard’s surface functions rather well on its own. Cosmetic alterations, by and large, suffices for avid skateboarders.

War+Drobe Designs, a Los Angeles-based startup, is reconfiguring the standard design of a skateboard to touch on its aesthetic appeal. Their inaugural product called the Interchangeable Skateboard Faceplate System (ISFS) does just that, with its patented, instantly commutative method. This system gives skateboarders the ability to develop customizable decks insofar as a form for individual expression. It comprises of a two-piece faceplate model that enables users to alter the aesthetic of the skateboard in a matter of seconds. Up until this point, an entire replacement deck process would be requisite, which needs external utensils to perform.

The ISFS has been under consideration for its development dating back five years, with the impetus being to create a one-of-a-kind skateboard deck line. The prior experience of working as a vendor for a fastening company, War+Drobe Designs’ Product Manager, Cornell Miller, mentions to SportTechie has helped craft the concept to make skateboarding accessories more customizable. They realized that it’s been imperative to have tools to take off the faceplate and a significant amount of time to do it, this system allows even the most casual of skateboarders to execute it, themselves, as convenient as possible.

“The ISFS was inspired from the simplicity of cell phone and laptop covers and skins. Consumers can easily customize cellphone and laptop covers to match their moods, outfits, or seasons, so we wanted skateboarders to be able to have that same luxury,” says Miller.

Over the course of this time, the skateboarding community is in “hyper growth mode,” states War+Drobe Designs’ Managing Partner, Verlin Campbell, to SportTechie. The traction the sport has generated propels evolutionary measures to take shape–no matter how subtle they may be–especially since there were days when it’s deemed too obscure for the masses to accept–like eSports. By virtue of the same token, art, naturally, is open to numerous interpretations as is skateboarding. This duality plays off well to produce a product that caters to it, which makes sense for them to launch the product during Miami’s annual, heralded Art Basil 2014.

“The movement, the tricks, and even the accessories, are a form of the skater’s expression. So art and skateboarding go hand in hand. The creation of ISFS is providing skaters with just another extension of expression,” Campbell says.

Although War+Drobe Designs wouldn’t address as to why other manufacturers haven’t developed something similar previously, they emphasized that as creatives, they believe in taking risks and setting trends similar to skateboarders. Given that there’s a market for smartphone’s additives, that presented an opportunity to disrupt another item of everyday use in parallel fashion. Of course, there’s room for other manufacturers to enter this space along with partnerships with established brands.

In their development process, they went through several prototypes to determine the best way to integrate the faceplates that could sustain the wear and tear that skaters put on their respective boards. The final design assimilates a seamless functionality that contains a locking mechanism, coupled with safety buttons that ensure the faceplates remain on during normal kicks, push, and tricks.

“The design and functionality play hand in hand; and were very important in that we didn’t want to mess with the integrity of the skateboard whatsoever,” notes Miller.

“Similar to cellphone cases, they don’t interfere with the operation of the product. We wanted the same approach our faceplates,” Miller added.

War+Drobe Designs’ ISFS hones in on the user’s freedom to quickly and easily change the aesthetics of their skateboard as well as the freedom to place personal images on them.

So while more advanced technologies are pushing the limits known to what skateboards can do, Campbell aspires to give the skateboarding community “the power to continually express themselves, easier and faster” through this interchangeable faceplate system.

Sometimes it’s the simplest design tweaks that spark the interests of those actually riding skateboards…