Over the course of the last years the Tapetenwerk in the west of Leipzig evolved into a creative hotspot that's now known as the "Shredderei" with a focus on longboards. Sebastian Mühlbauer manages the Bastl Boards company, specializing in the development and creation of new skate- and longboards. The overall plan is completed by a Café that lives up to the same standards one would expect from a regular coffeehouse. On the occasion of the upcoming second Shred Expo which will focus on skate- and longboards, we met with the Bastl Board Family in the Shredderei to chat about skateboard deck shapes, coffee from Uganda and the local Shred community.
Shred Expo: sharing a passion for Boards
Everybody who's into skateboarding should mark February 1st and 2nd in the calendar! At this time the second ever Shred Expo is taking place in the Tapetenwerk in Leipzig. There the Bastl Board Family is organizing the so called Shred Meet & Greet where skate- and longboard fans are welcome to share their latest stories, look at new ideas and enjoy Leipzigs best coffee.
Just for this event a bar will be installed in the hall and the walls will be turned into an art gallery, made available for artists for a small donation fee. Other skateboard brands are very welcome to set up their own booth to showcase their make and products. The exhibition thrives on the idea to create a collective show and celebrate the fascination of the skateboarding culture. For everybody who has seen the Bastl Boards it does not come as a surprise that the artistic approach has a main role in the design of the skateboard decks, leaving much creative space for the Shred Expo to expand into a more-than-just-boards event.
A highlight of the Shred Expo features the official presentation of the all-new Bastl Boards Rainbow Collection. The creative process began when Sebastian met artist Marlene at the Graphic Days in Berlin, where she immediately won him over with her personal art style. In cooperation with screen-printing artist Carlo and two more local acclaimed artists, the creation of the Rainbow theme began, giving each deck a unique design fitting its individual character. The design itself focuses on strong, powerful colors and the depiction of impressive jungle wildlife. Typical for our new collection is the great variety, giving everybody the chance to find a suitable deck – from the classic skateboard to longboards right up to downhill boards. That leaves no space uncovered for a product range that thrives on individuality and memorability.
From small series to Bastl Boards company
Construction and design of each individual deck need a lot of groundwork. The shapes of each model are being completely reworked, putting emphasis on ergonomics and driving experience. This way Bastl Boards creates decks that win customers over with their looks and specs. Up until two years ago Bastl Boards manufactured the decks in-house. After the company grew bigger Bastl Boards decided to focus on sales and the development of a prototype lab.
Serial production has been outsourced to a better equipped friendly workshop in the neighborhood. This cooperation constituted in the creation of a manufactory in the west of Leipzig, where an all local product is produced. This way everyone involved benefits from this partnership.
The value of the learning process and trying things out
Learning processes just as the one described above are typical for Bastl Boards and Sebastian. He labels himself as a self-educator. Together with a guitar maker he build his first skateboard at the age of 18. During his studies of humanities in Würzburg he was given the opportunity to work in a local snowboard workshop where he got a deeper insight on the building procedures. Based on his passion of riding and improving all kinds of boards his interest shifted to building own models for solid ground. In 2011 demand for his self-made decks was rising, at this time he decided to make his way into self-employment. Back then longboards were merely a niche product, thus presenting creative space for his ideas.
While building longboards he used a trial and error approach to expand his knowledge and skill set. Today the decks mostly consist of basalt and bamboo. Both materials have been carefully chosen because they are ecofriendly and sustainable. Furthermore, using these special materials does make the decks lighter and improve the overall ride feeling. This is being put to use on skateboards for a first time with the Rainbow-Collection. The decision to open up his business in Leipzig was not hard. The city's size, a founder's grant and the need for a local longboard hotspot encouraged him to settle in Leipzig.
Internationalization and new challenges
Keeping the company running is still hard work. Problems include numerous large competitors as well as legal issues regarding international sales. The Shredderei is an open space based on trust and sincerity. A concept that puts the company at financial risk when trying to compete internationally.
Despite all of those difficulties, Bastl Boards found its outlet and has become one of the bigger brand names in the longboard business. Focusing on a single board type or brand is out of the question for Sebastian. That would neither fit the corporate philosophy of Bastl Boards, nor the culture they have promoted in the Tapetenwerk over the last years.
Looking back, Sebastian would give himself a word of advice: study something less specified than european ethnology and think things through regarding your future career. He made the decision to build skateboard decks because he loved doing it. It is a pity that such career paths are not getting the same level of approval as regular apprenticeships or straight career paths.
Bastl Beans and Bastl Family
Besides skateboard decks, coffee is dear to Sebastians heart and another major subject of the Shredderei. Sebastians brother has been working as a development helper in Uganda since 2007. There he supports the construction of a new school and helps the local coffee farmers. With his help a cooperation of coffee farmers and the Shredderei in Leipzig came into being. For about two years the Shredderei has been processing and serving their own coffee bean, the "Bastl Bean", whose every step can be traced from source in Uganda to Leipzig Plagwitz.
The Bastl Boards family includes Sebastian, his apprentice Lars and an intern. Lars passion for skateboards was at least big enough to quit medical school. Sebastians intern is doing a stopover within the scope of his apprenticeship at a technical secondary school. Vaguely the Bastl Family includes a lot more people that all add to the Shreddereis open, positive and value-based nature.
Whoever loves to stand on a rolling board is highly welcome. "Go shred - it's all about a big smile"
Quick questions to Sebastian Mühlbauer of Bastl Boards
Since when are you living in Leipzig?
I have been living in Leipzig since 2011. At that time Leipzig offered great conditions for the longboard-idea.
Leipzig is really livable and the decision to move here and start up a business is be a decision I would make again.
Your insider tip for Leipzig?
Obviously I really recommend the Shredderei! It's the perfect place to relax, enjoy the best coffee in Leipzig, and chat. You will really enjoy the great atmosphere.