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Interview With Mekanism Skateboards

Posted by Jack On November - 22 - 2009
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Concept Skateboarding is very proud to present our latest interview with one of the dopest European brands that you’ve probably never heard of. Mekanism is a leading skateboard company based out of Paris, France, and they’ve been making plenty of waves not only locally, but in the global arena as well. The founder, Fred Maechler, was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for Concept Skateboarding’s archives. Enjoy the new interview with Mekanism Skateboards and be sure to stop by www.mekanismskateboards.com to peep the goods.

mekanism skateboards

What’s up, Fred. Please tell the Concept Skateboarding readers who you are and what you do.

31 years old, live and work in Paris, France. I’m the founder and director of Mekanism. And from time to time I write a column at Highsnobiety.com called “The Columnist” about design, art and everything I find interesting.

So about Mekanism. What is the company all about and how did it get started?

mekanism skateboardMekanism is a skateboard brand based in Paris and founded in 2002. I work in the skateboard industry since 95, as owner of a skateshop from 95 to 98 and of a distribution company of US skate brands in France since 99. In 2002 I came to a level where I was missing something, none of the brands of the skateboard industry had exactly the same vision of skateboarding that I had so I started Mekanism. Mekanism has a guideline, to communicate through a sober, very graphic field of vision, avoiding the superfluous, without sacrificing comfort and meaning. Since 2005 it has evolved as an UFP (unidentified flying project): we invite artists on limited-edition decks. We try to propose to a young audience the work of artists they are not always familiar with.

I’m assuming that many people on MySpace have never been to France before. This may seem like a very general question, but how would you characterize or describe the youth cultural scenes in France, particularly the skateboarding scene?

The skate/street industry is pretty big and independent in France, we have our own brands, magazines and videos. But I must admit that most of the teenagers are still obsessed by the US brands. The older people support more the French scene.

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of running Mekanism from France?

The disadvantage is that in this skate/street culture in order to get recognized abroad, and even in France, you have to get recognition in the US at first. Only then people start to consider what you do. That means a lot of work and patience. The advantage is that once you got that coverage over there you are noticed easier because few of those projects are coming from France.

Speaking of the art on your decks, I have to say that Mekanism has really elevated that to a whole new level, especially with the artist collaborations. The more recent collab was with German artist Katharina Grosse, in which she spray painted 100 decks in her signature style. How did that one come about?

I discovered her work at her exhibition at Palais de Tokyo in Paris last year and took a slap. I contacted her and ask her to do our next limited-edition deck. She agreed immediately. At first I proposed her the same format as all the other artists, a limited edition of 100 decks. After she agreed, I continued to study her work and thought that using such a medium, the spray gun, directly on 100 blank decks could give an even more interesting result. I proposed her this second method and she preferred this one as well. 100 original and unique skateboards were then created.

Are there any other upcoming Mekanism collaborations that people should be on the lookout for?

Our new project is with Invader. Last year we did with him a limited-edition of 100 skateboards and now he created three skateboards covered with real tiles and conceived a different mosaic for each deck. Three original and unique works of art on skateboards.

Have you thought about expanding the Mekanism brand into other areas like clothing?

We did t-shirts, sweatshirt, caps and accessories. But not on a regular basis, we produce new products whenever we feel like doing it.

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