77mm takes its name, partially, from the tail width of the first Howard Head aluminum standard ski. In 1947, Howard Head, a self-educated structural engineer working in airplane manufacturing, was convinced there was a way to make a lighter ski using the material and structural analysis from airplane construction. He quit his job and put all resources into creating a makeshift workshop. After 40 iterations, he birthed the first successful non-wood ski in history. In 1949, he produced 50 pairs, in 1950, he produced 300, and by 1953, he had produced and sold over 4000 pairs of reformed skis. By the end of the decade, Head became the largest ski manufacturer in the country.
My fascination with this story is rooted in the unintended cultural and architectural impact of Head’s product innovation. The significant improvement in ski functionality was a catalyst for:
This cultural catalyst resulted in:
It’s with the fascination of the causal relationship between physical product and cultural development that 77mm explores the physical manifestations of culture derived from Skiing and Mountain Living. My driving thesis is that the reshaping of physical products inevitably changes culture—manifested through perceptions, actions, language, art, design, music, film, education, transportation, and architecture.
Simply put, if we can reinterpret Skiing through product innovation, we can influence the architectural development and the overall perception of Mountain Living.
What does this mean for us practically? I believe innovating at the seemingly ephemeral, typographic and written-word level of Skiing will have a longterm cultural impact that influences the global perception of the entire category of Mountain Living. 77mm offers typefaces via 77Type and a catalogue of articles exploring 'Skiing and Mountain Living through an Art Historical Framework' via the digital newspaper concept, Mountain Standard Times.