Cooler Heads Prevail

With his slick new ms1 helmet, gear guru Thomas Meyerhoffer continues to reinvent technical style

Brainier Bucket: Meyerhoffer wearing the ms1 near his home and studio in Montara, California     Photo: Gregg Segal

IN THE SIX YEARS SINCE Thomas Meyerhoffer developed the predecessor of the iMac at Apple Computer and quit to open his own design business, the 38-year-old has dedicated himself to putting technology in the service of sport. Between 1999 and 2000, he crafted four top-selling high-end ski goggles for Smith: the Alias, V3, Triad, and Anthem. In 2002, he reinvented snowboard bindings for Flow, combining the easy-in, easy-out of a step-in with the control of a strap-in. And in July his streamlined, zero-graphics Neil Pryde windsurf sails earned the Industrial Designers Society of America's Gold IDEA award.

With his latest elegant creation, the ms1 snow-sports helmet for Scott, Meyerhoffer is showing no signs of slowing down. The ms1 hits stores in October with all the features of top-of-the-line melon protectors (adjustable ventilation, goggle retention clips, ultralight weight), plus Meyerhoffer's sleek, technical look. He calls it "a membrane to keep your head cool."

In daily life, Meyerhoffer embodies his own Scandinavia–meets–Santa Cruz aesthetic, with a 1965 Ford Cobra and bodega-cum-studio in Montara, on California Highway 1. He's Swedish-born, but a committed California longboarder. He consults with pro athletes on all sports designs but also tests products himself. To try out the ms1, Meyerhoffer went spring skiing in Switzerland with Scott product manager Thomas Schumacher. "There is a section of Verbier that had some good powder in April," Meyerhoffer recalls. "We hiked up in the sun wearing the helmets, to see how much we would sweat, and realized we were cooler with the helmets on than off." Meyerhoffer is just now showing up on the radar of outdoor-gear designers, who laud his ability to fuse performance engineering with a clean, pared-down style. "Great sport products need to balance weight, strength, and cost," says Andrew McLean, 42, a ski mountaineer and designer for Black Diamond. "His stuff does that and is also 100 percent functional."

Pleased with the ms1, Scott has signed Meyerhoffer to a winter-hardware exclusive. This means more on-the-job skiing and boarding—and more sessions riding his 9.4-foot Joel Tudor for inspiration. "Surfing makes me forget everything that I should do and lets me think about things I could do," he says. "In trying to stop thinking about design, I end up finding some of my best solutions."

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