Author Archives: Nate Burgos

Photograph by Biggunben at Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Boston, Massachusetts, April 15, 2013, Monday, 2:50 PM EST.

My first reaction upon learning of what happened at the 2013 Boston Marathon was sadness. A deep sympathy for all those victimized by the blasts, including three too-young victims: a loving son, Martin Richard, 8, of Dorchester, and two loving daughters, Krystle M. Campbell, 29, of Arlington, and Lingzi Lu, 23, of Shenyang, China.

[Ed. note: one of our team members, Pierre Mitchell of MetalMiner’s sister site Spend Matters, lives in Boston – here’s his recent take.]

At the same time, I felt uplifted by those—everyone—who ran into the blasts and debris to help. As the findings came in, my sadness blended with horror. Disgust. Bits of sharp metal, some in the form of shrapnel and ball bearings, packed into the pressure cookers.

On Thursday, another too-young loving son was murdered: MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, 26, of Somerville.

Friday brought more strain and tension. Lockdown. Suspense. Hours of news, overloaded with speculation. Suspect caught.

A bit of reprieve. Over the weekend, I stumbled upon the blog of photographer Tim Navis. One of his portraits particularly appealed to me: Navis’ neighbor John Perko in his home state of Wisconsin. Perko is a welding artist who makes sculptures for private clients in the Midwest. His garage functions as his studio space, which he gladly shows-and-tells, tools and all, to Navis. Perko’s medium is his art.

Navis’ new project is photographing people and places during his walk across America. His first footfalls were in March of 2013. Here’s one of his reasons to make this step-by-step trek:

“Seeing America on foot will force me to slow down and check out the details of this country that I would normally miss. This is also an amazing opportunity to document my country the way I see it. I plan on photographing and interviewing local artists, heroes, truckers, war veterans, red necks, misfits, landscapes, cityscapes, families and other residents of this country as I walk. Hopefully enriching my life and other people’s lives as well.”

As Navis puts it, “I. Love. America.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of Boston’s nicknames is “America’s Walking City.” The Boston Marathon, begun in 1897, is the oldest marathon in one of America’s oldest cities, founded in 1630. Boston is also America’s Running City. Bostonians walk. Bostonians run. Bostonians survive.

Nate Burgos is a designer who is curious about design and designing at Design Feast.

Source: valleyboy74 at Flickr

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“I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.”
―Claes Oldenburg

While walking about your city or during your travels, you may have encountered an object, a recognizable one, too large not to notice. In Philadelphia, you’ll notice a lipstick made of Cor-Ten steel and aluminum. It stands upright, ready to be used, and served on a tray of caterpillar tracks:


Photograph by vige at Flickr

RELATED: Are you a manufacturer with an aluminum buy? Learn how buying custom mill shapes (vs. standard products) can reduce your spend – register for our FREE webinar on March 7, 2013.

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Photograph by lungstruck at Flickr

Fitting that John Deere, born Feb. 7, 1804, settled in Grand Detour, Illinois.

He had taken a grand detour from the cast-iron plows of his time to plows made of highly polished steel and a properly shaped mouldboard. The origin of Deere’s idea isn’t exactly known: the design’s inspiration either came from the observation of polished needles for sewing leather or of pitchfork tines moving through hay and soil. Deere’s version of the plow proved better suited to handle the composition of the prairie.

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Source: scrapitsideways at Flickr

I haven’t played “Monopoly” much, but I remember its pewter pieces, or “tokens” in board-game speak. Players move the tokens along the board’s edge, dictated by the roll of the dice. From Hasbro’s history of the game: “Over 20 tokens have been cast since the MONOPOLY game was introduced in 1935 such as the horse, dog, car, elephant, purse and lantern.”

One of the earliest tokens I recall was The Iron: cute like the rest, plus more fitted to remain flat on the board. From Jan. 8 to Feb. 5, 2013, Hasbro invited Facebook users to a vote for a new token, meant to replace an existing one. The Cat reigned supreme, and The Iron retired.


Source: Steven Senne/AP via NPR News

More than just a game piece, the Monopoly Iron was a reminder of a storied, elegant skill. Yes, elegant—don’t believe it? Watch this! Clearly, the Iron lobby is not as influential as the Cat lobby. As one commentator claimed, “The voting was rigged for the cat all along.”

Related note: If you didn’t know, game designer Elizabeth Magie, born in Canton, Illinois, in 1866, invented “The Landlord’s Game,” patented in 1904, and the precursor to “Monopoly.”

Nate Burgos is a designer who is ever-curious about design and designing at Design Feast.

Mining isn’t only a terrestrial industry. As Astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is delighted to highlight in this CBS News appearance, companies have their eyes, looking up, on mining asteroids for precious metals (with a beneficial by-product of avoiding potential impacts by near-Earth objects).

Nate Burgos is a designer who is ever-curious about design and designing at Design Feast.

metal process

Source: Parts and Labor

It’s a wonderful thing: two people, sharing a common intent, and making something—something that each loves to do and welcomes like sunlight.

In this case, the thing that design firm Parts and Labor welcomes may not be quite to the temperature of the sun, but is extreme: hot metal.

The firm’s founders and partners are Andrew Cohen and Jeremy Levitt. Andrew’s creative source from childhood was the wood mill, while Jeremy’s was machinery. Using a triad of materials—metal, glass and ceramics—Andrew and Jeremy craft and produce custom objects for select spaces, including New York-based 9MMEDIA (below), formerly Jim Henson Studios.

metals space

Source: Parts and Labor

Their statement on metal may speak to Process, but it also speaks to metal as an enduring creative medium:

“By taking advantage of as many processes that are available in manipulating metal, we attempt to push the boundaries to bring unique and interesting designs to fruition. Some techniques include turning, spinning, laser cutting, jet cutting, welding, fusing, forging, drilling and tapping, just to name a few. And while metal in most cases isn’t quite as pliable as materials such as ceramic or hot glass and can’t be controlled quite as easily as wood, much of what our fabricators create seem to contradict its limitations. That said, what we find to be so beautiful about the material is its strength, structure and sense of permanence. Each alloy has inherent properties which help to set a tone within each product and in each space, whether we use raw steel, stainless steel, brass, nickel or aluminum. And by incorporating other components in different materials we are able to create successful compositions.”

The term “successful compositions” is open to interpretation.

Parts and Labor’s goal is based on “integrity, originality and a love of design.” Realizing these qualities achieves success.

Yet, there is (as always) another interpretation. Parts and Labor’s successful composition is composed of relationships with people—designers, fabricators, clients—as well as tools and processes.

One practice that helps make this composition successful is hospitality: an experience most needed in good times and especially bad.

Nate Burgos is a designer who is ever-curious about design and designing at Design Feast.

Source: Jennifer Tran

Copper and glass: together, they converge into an elegant pair of tools, evident in designer Jennifer Tran’s Drafting Set. At first glance, Tran’s twist on the typical protractor, triangle and ruler give the sensation of tools refreshed—purged of any office-supply appearance or sheen.

Source: Jennifer Tran

To steer sculptor Constantin Brancusi’s “Architecture is inhabited sculpture,” Tran’s Drafting Set helps draw a bridge—connecting what the architect inhabits to the dream made true.

Nate Burgos is a designer who is ever curious about design and designing at Design Feast.

Photograph by reflexbeginner at Flickr

Human, environmental, artificial, mechanical—the sinking of cruise ship Costa Concordia was, and is, a tragedy on many levels.

Since its deadly evacuation off the Italian coast on the night of January 13, 2012, the ship remains submerged at Isola del Giglio, Tuscany. More than an eyesore, it commands the intensive attention of many people and tools dedicated to salvaging it before the damage multiplies.

The physical and emotional demands are overwhelming.

When the news show 60 Minutes reported on the ship’s removal, which began in July, the plan to remove and clean up the wreckage was one gigantic measurement after another: spanning three football fields at 114,000 tons+ (minus 2,380 tons of diesel fuel).

Cold, hard math.

It is a painful reminder of the 30 passengers killed, two still missing, and 64 injured. Maximizing heavy-duty cables, cranes, boxes, and other metallic methods, Florida-based Titan Salvage and Italian engineering firm Micoperi are in a race against time (and bouts of uncooperative weather).

View 60 minutes’ report Costa Concordia: Salvaging a shipwreck.

Nate Burgos is a designer who is ever-curious about design and designing at Design Feast.

Source: Kevin Logan

“What was the first type of beer can?” Not a question that typically comes up in conversation, unless you’re a beer enthusiast. The answer is the flat top, but the beer can wasn’t always flat. It was cone-shaped at one point. By the late 1930s, both flat- and cone-top cans were distributed; by the 1950s, the flat-topped version became the preferred form, because it filled faster and stacked easier, according to Dan Morean’s “A Brief History of the Beer Can” at

Though the cone-top beer can is noteworthy for its form, its packaging design also stands out, as in these examples:

Source: Kevin Logan

Source: Patty Boh

The lettering, illustrative elements and colors still look and feel fresh. Cheers!

Nate Burgos is a designer who is ever-curious about design and designing at Design Feast.

Related: Collection of cone-top beer cans at Dan Morean’s