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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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

Fail Your Way to Success

Most of the readers of this blog share a common goal: To utilize their engineering mind and their creative mind to produce something awesome for the world. And hopefully get paid for it. Of course, the world isn’t necessarily beating a path to your door just because you want them to.  To carve your own path you will have to get out there and try different things.  But where to start? What if you choose the wrong path? What about all that wasted time, which you don’t have? But, but, but….

This is where Scott’s philosophy is really powerful. He believes that you should have a system, rather than a goal, in order to reach your destination. From there, you try different things until skill and luck coincide. Every failure you have is an opportunity to learn something new, to find a new contact, to get introduced to another project, etc. So each failure is really building up to that final success(s).

So how does this look in the real world? Let’s use Scott’s story. He gets an engineering degree and starts working as an engineer. He is good at it, but really wants to do something unrelated to the cube farm. He has always enjoyed drawing cartoons, but is actually pretty terrible at it. He didn’t one day say “I want to be a rich, famous cartoonist!” because that would be absurd. Instead, his thought process was more along the lines of “I would like to not be in this cube farm anymore” and starts to put a system in place (he uses the goal of “Lose Weight” versus the system of “Eat Healthier” to show what he means by goal versus system. It is a little confusing). His system is straight forward: Try different things until something sticks, learning from each failure. He invents products, writes books, starts up businesses, and starts drawings a little thing called “Dilbert”.  He leverages all that he learned during all of the failed ventures to help push Dilbert toward success. If Dilbert had not happened some other success would have come his way because he was ready to capitalize when luck ventured his way.

Anyway, the book is worth the quick read that it is. Have any of you found success using this method?

Enginartist – Definition




1. an artist who displays an aptitude for technical problem solving, often relying on an unexpected use                         of technology to create art.

2. a professional engineer who demonstrates an artistic ability.



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.


Wasted Talent (web comic)

CaptureAhhh…the perfect example of an Enginart. Angela Melick’s site, Wasted Talent, is a wonderful glimpse into the mind of an engineer that only an engineer could really bring to life. She does these awesome web comics that capture everyday occurrences in the life of an engineer . I wouldn’t call her comment LOL funny, but that isn’t what she is trying to do (though a few have really struck a chord with me).  Spend a few minutes (or hours) on her site. See what you can do when you don’t let that artistic side of you get beaten down by the engineering side?

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.




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.

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!

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