A furniture factory isn’t the most obvious venue for a holiday party or music-video shoot. But MotoArt Studios’ El Segundo headquarters is just as much a museum and antiques gallery as it is a manufacturing plant.
The company, launched in 2001, makes high-end furniture out of old aircraft parts. There are conference tables made from the wings of 1930 biplanes, smaller tables made from deactivated bombs and bar stools made of ejector seats from F-4 Phantom fighter jets. Pieces sell for between $15,000 and $30,000.
But over the past few months, the firm has added a side business: renting out its studio and workshop for parties, movie screenings and film shoots. Customers so far have included Santa Monica video-game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc., Massachusetts Institute of Technology and local high schools.
MotoArt rents the space for between $2,000 and $10,000 depending on the size of the space rented, and the company brought in about $50,000 during last year’s holiday season alone, said firm co-founder Dave Hall.
It’s a unique venue. A DC-3 cockpit fastened against a wall looks over the shop floor and serves as the DJ booth during parties. Vintage rudders, tails and aircraft frames hang from the 25-foot ceilings; shiny, metal engine cowlings and other parts reflect the built-in, colored neon lights.
Hall and co-founder Donovan Fell said hosting events is a little like the pair’s longtime dream of owning and operating a bar.
“We realized this is the bar,” Hall said. “You can’t duplicate this.”
MotoArt is growing its core business, too. The company recently opened showrooms in China and Australia. That’s on top of existing showrooms in Malaysia, Italy and Maryland.
MotoArt started out making furniture for aviators and aviation history buffs, but the business took off after it started making furniture geared toward corporate customers. Now, MotoArt sells about $3.5 million in furniture a year, most of it to big companies that will buy several conference room tables or reception desks at a time, Hall said.
Recent customers include Microsoft Inc. and Airbnb Inc.
– Carol Lawrence
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