May 07, 2017

Photo Essay: High-Flying Furniture Art

When you hear that something is headed to the scrapyard, it sounds like certain death. But for some items, it's just the beginning of a new life.

Take, for instance, airplanes—like the ones you find at the Mojave airplane graveyard.

I may go to boneyards like that to gawk, but there are others that visit looking for treasures—and treasures they find.

And the pickers at MotoArt in El Segundo transform those finds into pieces of aviation-inspired furniture, be it an airplane wing bar...

...or a cockpit mounted on the wall like a moose head.

Anything they can get their hands on—like the tail from a plane used by The Monkees while on tour—can be turned into a piece of aviation history that anyone can own (for the right price, of course).

And they harvest parts from  B-52 bombers, biplanes and Boeing 747s, as well as Douglas DC-3s, 4s, 6s, 8s, and 9s and F-4 Phantoms.

Inner and outer flaps, cargo floor panels, rudders, fuel cradles and tanks, pistons, cowlings, and even ejection seats (some dead stock, but most used in flight) are amputated and extracted... be repurposed into coffee tables, desks, wall art, lighting, seating, backsplashes, and even beds.

Pretty much anything can be made out of airplane fuselage—especially because it's so abundant—but it's the windows in particular that have become quite popular.

I mean, it makes sense—whether for military or commercial flight, these planes were built to last.

Just because they've been retired doesn't mean they're done working.

But when you're used to seeing planes like this being put back together at an aviation museum...'s kind of sad to see them being stripped down to their skeletons.

I bet some museums would love to get their hands on some of the planes and plane parts that MotoArt has managed to acquire.

But in some ways, the showroom, workshop, and yard of MotoArt feels like a museum—though, being a private manufacturing business, there isn't much opportunity for the public to come and hear the detailed histories on all the makes and models available there.

But MotoArt serves the public in a different way—by making these pieces of aviation history available to own.

I'm sure some people think these pieces of functional art just look or seem cool, in an industrial chic kind of way.

Others might enjoy the nostalgia of owning a piece of something familiar, like the multicolored Southwest Airlines fuselage (though good luck finding, say, Pan Am).

Probably only a few really appreciate what went into designing and manufacturing these great flying beasts to begin with...

...or have any real appreciation of the aerospace industry in general.

And those that do may not be able to afford to redecorate with pieces from it.

But if a place like MotoArt is to exist, it seems there's no more perfect place than El Segundo...

...just a stone's throw away from LAX, which helped LA graduate from the "Golden Age of Flying" to the "Jet Age" of the future.

Except maybe Long Beach, where Douglas Aircraft Company did much of its manufacturing...

...or Burbank, home of the Lockheed Martin headquarters...

...or Playa Vista, former home of Hughes Aircraft Company (and the new "Hercules" Campus)...

...or Downey, former home of North American Aviation...

...or, of course, Mojave.

But it turns out that when these planes are in Mojave, it's just a rest stop—not a final place of rest.

Their bones and skins will go on to join other bodies, though their home is no longer the sky.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Where Airplanes Go To Rest
Photo Essay: The Boneyard at the Former Cal-Aero Flying Academy
Photo Essay: Saving Sculptures from the Scrapyard

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