Sculptural Furniture By Sebastian ErraZuriz

It is no secret that I love kinetic art and simple building materials. And if you make something that is also functional and beautiful then you are really on to something. Enginartist Sebasatian ErraZuriz uses motion to turn a simple box into an infinitely configurable storage container and display case by having the simple beams of the design fold out from each other. In another take on a “simple box that hides its true complexity”, he has created on that explodes horizontally by sliding the simple beam members out along integrated dovetails. Following on with the simple building material motif, Sebastian uses plywood to design a gorgeous table and chair set, complete with a carved bowl in the center. I have always wanted to tackle something like this but was afraid how it would turn out after pouring way to much time into it. Looks like I should have had no fear. And, finally, dead tree limbs turned into a coffee table and books shelf? Way too cool. Head on over to his site to check out the rest of his collection.

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Machines Blown Apart

BeaterThis one is brilliant in it’s simplicity. I have often marveled at electrical and mechanical components and  been absorbed in their raw, I don’t know, beauty. Think about those clocks that are made from car brakes that look perfectly natural hanging on the wall. Here, artist Brittny took it a step further. Here, she has disassembled normal appliances and laid the pieces out so you can take in all the cool things the the industrial designer tired to hide. No, you can’t look at these pictures and tell how the contraption actually functions, but I do think that the complexity of our “simple” devices are on full display. Plus, the contrast of steel, iron, copper, and multi-colored plastic is just,  well, beautiful. Nice job Brittny!

Check out the original article here.


Form Meets Function – Cool Bird Feeder


I love to see KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) in action. Here, we can see KISS methodology used to support both engineering function and design. Assuming this feeder actually foils the little seed stealing basta…squirrels, what you are left with is a product that looks cool just hanging in the yard, with or without the birds. Side note – I tried my hand at building a squirrel proof bird feeder as a kid and know first hand how crafty they be. Let’s just saying that screaming at them an effective, but not sustainable, option is. Kudos to Jim for an innovate design.

From Wired:

Here’s an elegant bird buffet worthy of even the rarest feathered friend. What’s better: The stoneware feeding tube hangs from a single wire and see-saws downward when a squirrel alights on it, making it impossible for them to hang on and steal a meal. J Schatz Mobile Bird Feeder | $225

Floating Coffee Table

This is an awesome coffee table by enginartists RockPaperRobot. This is classic physics at play, as the magnetized walnut cubes try to spread apart while the whisker-thin cables between the blocks keeps them tethered together. The effect is very cool, but I do wonder how much load this thing can take. Can you reasonably expect to set a glass on this thing with it acting uncontrollably? And I don’t know if this is a real possibility given the nature of magnets, but what about the magnetic force dissipating over time and the entire system become unbalanced? This seems like something that must be highly tuned. I bet long-term quality issues are a nightmare! Very cool idea, though.


Fun With Wood

Very cool design project from Michael Turri. He took the time to slice up a beautiful hunk of wood, finish the end grain, and then snap a photo. He repeated this process an insane number of times and then edited them together. The effect is kind of like an MRI of a piece of wood. Then, to top it off, he synced up to music.  Only an engineer with artistic brain could pull this one off. Kudos to Mike! You can check out his process here.




The Art of the Engineer

I wrote earlier about my fascination with cut-away art. Well, I stumbled upon this book shopping earlier this week and was immediately taken in by the detailed engineering art/prints that this books contains.  This is a  perfect coffee table or office lobby book….just make sure no one walks off with it!

Lenticular Lens

Here’s an artist using a little-known technological gem to create something extremely creative and beautiful. Meet Rufus Butler Seder, founder and CEO of Eye Think Inc.

Years ago, a fascination with antique optical toys led Rufus Butler Seder to wonder if he could create motion pictures on a grand scale using no electricity, moving parts or special lighting. After some experiment he developed a 3-pound, 8-inch square, lens-ribbed glass tile that was to form the building block for his dream come true. He called it a Lifetile.

By combining hundreds of Lifetiles, Rufus is able to create large-scale “Movies for the Wall”: optical murals that appear to come to life, move, and change when the observer travels by them. Lifetiles murals contain no moving parts. The motion is in the eye of the beholder.

Since 1990 Rufus has designed, fabricated and installed dozens of Lifetiles work in museums, aquariums, and other public places around the world. The medium is maintenance-free and lends itself to almost any subject or location, outdoors or in. No special lighting is required.

Every Lifetile is hand-crafted from start to finish. To create a Lifetiles mural, Rufus first designs each individual phase of movement by referring to original or archival motion picture footage, filming the subject in motion himself, or by drawing from scratch. Once he has created the final visuals, he combines analog and digital techniques to compress them into “coded images” that he indelibly fuses into each glass tile. When the casual observer strolls by a completed Lifetiles mural , the ribbed tile lenses optically unscramble the coded images “frame by frame,” and the observer’s brain links this rapid succession of images together, creating the illusion of movement.

The process/method he is using is known as a lenticular lens. According to Wiki, this is an array of magnifying lenses that magnifies different images when viewed from different angles. The process has been around for a while and has been used in other art projects (look at the album cover to Tool’s Aenima), but not on this scale.  Hail to the Enginart!

Cutaway Art

npca_posters2Take a moment to check out Beau and Alan Daniels, of They are producing truly incredible “technical” illustrations.  Though all of their work is worth reviewing, I particularly love their PSA ads for the park services. The idea of joining technical information with an exciting illustration relates directly to my blog from last week. Used more as a marketing tool by the Daniels, the concept works equally well whether you are pitching a product idea or teaching kids about the wonderful world of learning.

How Things Work

New How Things WorkWhen I was kid, there was a series of books in my house titled something like “How Things Work”. The books consisted of full color cutaways of complex systems with easy to follow explanations of what made them tick. And the illustrations were so well done that even complicated machines and processes were easy to understand. Man, I loved those books! I’m not saying reading them lead me to be an engineer, but it may have stroked the fire. It also turns out that I’m a visual learner more so than an auditory one, so the graphics went a long way toward reinforcing the point. How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life, 3rd Edition

Anyway, I went looking for my original book and couldn’t find it. But I did find a couple of similar books that serve the same basic purpose.  New How Things Work would be for the little tykes, with simpler topics and explanations. How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life, 3rd Edition would be for the pre-college crowd. I recommend that any parent with a curious kid take a little at either of these books (or something similar).

The Art of the Brick

LegoIf you haven’t stumbled across Lego artist Nathan Sawaya yet, then take a moment to check him out. He doesn’t have an engineering background, but he is playing with Legos. In my mind, that makes him an honorary Enginart. I love his creative use of simple building blocks to construct these massively complex structures. When you think about the amount of planning Nathan has to put into each piece in order to ensure the final product looks right, you can begin to appreciate how both the left and right brain must work together seamlessly. In many ways, this is a metaphor for all of engineering: Simple, well understood concepts (bricks) coming together to create a whole that is greater than the some of its parts. What a fun medium to create with. I only wish I had thought of it!

Singing the Praises of GLAD Press’n Seal

prodshot_pressnseal1I don’t normally shill for a product, but this GLAD Press’n Seal is proving to be a great addition to my art tool chest. This stuff doesn’t have the irritating tendency to cling to itself that some other plastic wraps exhibit, but it holds on to containers just as well. Per GLAD’s website “While other wraps cling, Press’n Seal® wrap actually seals…” In the shop, I’m mainly using it to temporarily cover paint cans, rollers, and brushes, but I’m sure I’ll find other uses as life goes on. Its usefulness aside, I’d like to point out how the good people at GLAD went beyond their popular (and profitable) Cling Wrap to create this whole new storage solution. The creativity required to push beyond their comfort zone shouldn’t be understated. Though it’s not much too look at, the simplistic appearance belies the complexity of the product. Thus, I believe this product is a fine example of an Enginart design: Innovative, efficient, useful, and an aesthetic that’s only as complicated as it needs to be.

Google Sketchup

A model created in Sketchup
 You’ve probably stumbled across this before, but I feel it s well worth mentioning in this forum: Google Sketchup is fantastic piece of software. More than just a “lite” CAD solution,  Sketchup is really a hybrid between surfacing programs like Alias and a parametric software like CATIA or IDEAS. The benefit to creative engineers out there is threefold: 1.) You can get your idea rendered without worrying about building structural correct 3D model, thus saving time and frustration 2.) You can push/pull the surfaces around to get the look you want without having to define it mathematically 3.) It’s FREE. Of course, the free part is debatable. After all, if you want to import/export an actual 3D model, you will have to shell out $495 for the PRO version. I haven’t tried the PRO version yet, but it may well be worth the price.
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