Surf Shacks 017 - Randy Hild

Randy Hild is a living legend in the surf industry. He helped usher in a new era in women’s surfing with the birth of Roxy. In doing so, he is partially responsible for balancing the gender ratio in the lineup and forever raised the bar for marketing in the surf world. His creative curiosity and deep love of surf history and culture also led to him starting M.Nii, which was named one of GQ’s best menswear labels and is a tribute to surfing’s golden age in post WWII Hawaii. Randy lives in a beautiful mid-century home in Laguna Niguel, which is rich in California architectural history itself. His art collection, library of printed materials, and surf memorabilia collection are nothing shy of awe-inspiring.
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Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Randy Hild. I’m a husband, a dad, and a regular-foot from Orange County. I have also worked in the surf industry for over 35 years, so I am sort of an "old guard" guy who was in at the very beginning of the industry when it was just formulating. It all started with the first surf shops in the ’50s and ’60s. Hobie opened his first surf shop in maybe 1954, so that was before my time. Then the surf apparel industry as we know it today—with mass production of products and brands—all started in 1981 with The Action Sports Retailer Trade Show. That’s kind of when the industry formed, with people who had trade show booths and just enough surf shops by then to justify having a trade show. It just exploded from there and went through this crazy growth in the mid-’80s when there was this great neon trend happening. That was maybe not the best thing for the sport because it became too broad and mainstream way too fast so it was viewed as more of a trend—a trend that blew the industry up in a great way, but then crashed and burned just as fast in the ’90s. No one really saw that coming. Companies went out of business, which was just a correction. Since then there are just a lot of comes and goes, but the surf industry has come a long way since its humble beginnings.

Who was the architect of your house? Tell us about the significance of the area you live in.

I’ve always been fascinated by the history of our culture—surf culture and even California culture. That goes back to the history of why I bought this home. The original architect of this home is George Bissell. He graduated from USC School of Architecture, which in the ’50s and ’60s was the school for architecture out here where a lot of the "case study architects" came out of. One of the most important ones was A. Quincy Jones, who was partnered with Frederick Emmons on the majority of all the Eichler homes, primarily up in the Bay area. A. Quincy Jones shared the case study goal of reinventing the house as a way of redefining the way people lived in post-war America. He literally designed the master plan for the city of Irvine and the whole balance of green belts and urban planning, and he was the dean at the USC School of Architecture through the ’50s and ’60s. He also designed that famous Sunnylands Annenburg home in the desert that is the most important piece of architecture in Palm Springs, where every President has had a retreat since Johnson. What makes this so important is that George Bissell was a colleague of A. Quincy Jones. They both served on the board at USC and did a project together that was the Lido Sands development, which was this famous island in Newport. They teamed up and did all the city planning for the island, places for boats, for kids to play, small streets with proper pedestrian walkways, parking away from the streets, ocean accesses, small home lots. It was basically this really intimate, beach lifestyle development. To me, when I learned all that, the lightbulb went on and I realized why this home and others like it were so important having been designed by this talented architect of the Eichler generation.

What are your favorite things about this area?

People tend to either love or hate Orange County. In the surf industry it’s called, "Velcro Valley," which is mostly based here. But it’s always been home for me. It’s where I grew up. I love it because of the lifestyle. All the pioneers from the ’30s through the ’50s would come back home to this area from winters in Hawaii and bring pieces of the culture there with them. San O is a perfect example, you can just drive up, park your car on the beach and surf all day out front, which is the ultimate Hawaiian beach lifestyle that still exists today here. Everyone is welcome: families, beginners, pros, you name it—it’s all about just having fun here. I have had opportunities to live abroad in France, and we had a home in Hawaii for a while—all great experiences, but man, I walk in this door here and couldn’t be happier. This is home. For all of those reasons, this is still a pretty darn easy place for me to live.

How did you first get started with Quiksilver and Roxy?

In 1993 Quiksilver acquired a company that I used to work for called Raisins Swimwear. They wanted to grow their business and to bring women’s expertise into their building since they were just a men’s brand at the time. I was sort of given the task from above, and the whole Roxy thing just landed in my lap. Plus, I had a great team by my side. In 1994 all the stars aligned: Lisa Andersen won the world title, then I met guys like Jeff Hornbaker and Art Brewer who were shooting her at the time. I got to know Bruce Raymond and through him Wayne Lynch, Jeff Hakman, then Randy Rarick, Ricky Grigg and on and on. These are all guys who heavily inspired me in the ’70s and they’re just normal, great, fun-loving guys. I got to go on Tavarua boat trips with them and I’m just this kook in the water trying to stay away from the sets hammering me. I’m just sitting in the peanut gallery watching these guys do what they do, which opened my eyes to how lucky I was at the time. We did so much work in Hawaii then. Roxy put on a contest at Sunset Beach on the North Shore for like 10 years. So every year I’m going to Hawaii and I just kept getting more and more fascinated with the culture and kept wanting to learn more. Quiksilver opened the door to my creative curiosity in surf history. It was a personal thing, but it also became creative inspiration for Roxy as a brand. Women are different than guys in the lineup—they really just want to have fun. When they’re out in the water they’re talking and laughing. They’re just girls being girls, having a blast. And that’s what I always loved about surfing anyway. I never had any interest in the competitive side of things. I just want to surf and have fun and I feel like girls have more fun, so I wanted to celebrate that and portray just that in our imagery and also try to connect it back to a little bit of funny history. We’d always have some old photos of women surfing in the ’60s and ’70s as inspiration. We worked very closely with Margo Oberg and Rell Sunn, so again I tried to weave the story to show respect for our history, but also bring part of the heritage and style along with it.

This article was originally published on Indoek as part of the Surf Shacks series, featuring the homes of creative surfers from coast to coast and overseas. See the full interview and photo gallery here.


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