by Maggie Flickinger
While salvaged railroad tie furniture is on the verge of feeling trite, Railyard Studios prove that there still exists opportunity for ingenuity. Their simple Cafe Stool employs both the unadorned mass of a solid white oak mainline tie and an industrial section of rail, which functions as a footrest. Rail Yard Studio’s commitment to source, design, and craft their pieces in the US isn’t just lip service – founded by a railroad maintenance tech, these gents are honestly close to their source material.
Biomimetic design solutions are more accessible than ever with the launch of Asknature.org. Billed as a wiki-style compendium of Biomimicry Taxonomy, the site will serve to cross-pollinate technical biology and beautiful design. One example is the Thorny Devil’s capillary-spurred circulatory cutaneous system, which enables it to collect and convey water to its mouth. Envisioning engineered rooftop runnels that channel rainwater using this natural inspiration is just one small example of nature leading environmentally sensitive design.
Many cyclists think of their bike as a work of art, to be enjoyed and appreciated as such. Now, Knife & Saw’s Bike Shelf ends the days of relegating the bike to the garage and enters it into that realm of artistic display. Crafted by hand and endlessly customisable (for those of you with super wide cruiser handlebars, don’t worry, he’s got you covered too), the Bike Shelf is functional too: just toss the day’s mail above. I can’t help but think that a small, well-designed hook on the shelf’s underside would be a functional addition – we need somewhere to hang our equally artful helmets, no?
Artist and mathematician Nikki Graziano’s Found Functions series beautifully marries complex mathematical formulas with natural form, from sand dunes to clouds, trees to mountains. I’m always partial to the artistic merging of nature and science, since this is an inherent relationship, but is rarely visualized. The overt pairing of the two is both beautiful to behold and an inspiring reminder of the potentials of design influence by omnipresent natural order.