MotoArt: Taking aviation junk and turning it into modern art

It has been said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. In the case of MotoArt, one man’s piece of junk is another man’s high-end executive desk.

Founded in 2002, the Southern California-based company takes pieces from old airplanes, such as wheels from Boeing 707s, doors from C-119s, training bombs and old propellers, and turns them into tables, chairs, desks and even fish tanks that straddle the line between works of art and functional furniture.

The out-of-the-ordinary furniture attracted a lot of attention during this year’s Sun ‘n Fun. The armchairs created from first-class seating from an airliner were especially popular.

“Tell her there’s a fee for sitting there,” joked Dave Hall, one of the founders of the company, as he watched a little girl try out one of the chairs. This was MotoArt’s first time at the show as an exhibitor.

For the past three years, Hall and his business partner, Donovan Fell III, have prowled aircraft boneyards looking for parts that can be turned into functional pieces of art.

Their outdoor exhibit featured a fish tank made from a bomb, recliners made from a pair of airliner first class seats, a desk made from the horizontal stabilizer of a DC-9, and their signature piece, a cocktail table made from a propeller.

“People are coming up and looking at the parts and saying ‘I used to work with those!'” Hall said.

Last year the world had a chance to see how an object goes from junk to artwork when MotoArt became the focus of a television show called “Wing Nuts.” It aired on the Discovery Channel and, according to Hall, had a phenomenal impact on the company.

“Take the money we made the year before, add some zeroes to it, that’s how good it was for us,” he said, noting that the exposure also prompted non-aviation retailers to place orders for their work. “We just got an order from Saks Fifth Avenue for 25 of the DC-9 executive desks,” he explained.

The company also makes desks from the elevators of B-25s and the cowlings of DC-6s and chairs from other military aircraft. The items are limited edition and priced accordingly.

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