Dave Hall likes to believe that behind many a corporate executive, there's a little kid who loves planes specifically, the parts of planes.
Hall, along with his partner Donovan Fell, have figured that there's a business in taking propellers, engines, seats and landing gear doors and turning them into conference tables, coffee tables, aquariums and artwork.
The result is four-year-old MotoArt Inc., where on a recent morning a half-dozen drillers and machinists were handling large aircraft parts, including C-119 landing gear doors and the wing flap of a C-130 being used as a headboard for a bed. "We don't let anything go to waste," said Fell.
Some of MotoArt's most popular items include a Boeing 707 wheel table that sells for $2,700, a $225 radial piston lamp, and the "Aqua Bomb," a 10-gallon fish tank made from an MK-84 bomb tail that goes for $3,400.
Customers are a varied lot. A Florida dentist bought eight propeller sculptures for his operating rooms. Saks Inc. bought 20 wing desks for its Saks Fifth Avenue menswear departments. And a 23-foot-long table made from the wings of a 1929 bi-plane went for $35,000 and wound up in the conference room of a mortgage company.
"Corporations are always looking for a fresh look for their offices, something people will talk about," Fell said. "It stirs an interest or shows they have great artistic taste."
When architect Cosimo Pizzulli was asked to design an office space with vintage airplane wings hanging from the ceiling and a reception desk made from aircraft engines, his staff discovered MotoArt.
"We're creating and developing something that's new and fresh and has a sense of movement like an aircraft," said Pizzulli, owner of Santa Monica-based Pizzulli Associates Inc., which is working with MotoArt to design new offices on Sunset Boulevard for 19 Entertainment, producers of "American Idol." "I thought it was very cool."
Access to 'boneyards'
Fell, who grew up with a fascination for airplanes, had decorated his office at a commercial signage firm with old propeller blades. After 14 years, Fell wanted to start his own sign business, and in 2001, he recruited co-worker Hall while continuing to work on propeller blades on the side.
The pair traveled to Arizona to see if they could sell propeller blades at a car show. "It was a Barrett Jackson classic car event," Fell said. "Everything was car oriented. We weren't. But a gear head is a gear head."
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