Beautiful Things That Do Something

Craft vs art (or craft as art), useful vs beautiful (or useful as beautiful), decorative vs practical (or decorative as practical) – these are the questions many debate when defining the prickly “what is art” issue. Seth Toker, however, solved it all with a simple statement - “I create beautiful things that do something.” Not worried about defining it as art or appliance, Seth is just fueled to create the beautiful, the practical and the magical.

I sought out Seth because of a desire to get to understand the fascinating Maker Community being built in Chattanooga.  From the ChattLab to the upcoming Chattanooga Maker Faire to be held on October 11 , there is a lot of exciting buzz going on about makers. These creatives are inventors and scientists, pragmatists and practitioners, instigators and introverts, experimenters and thinkers.

Seth embodies all of this as a man whose creative output is as diverse as his sources and whose drive and curiosity are insatiable. A recent Chattanooga transplant, he and his family now proudly call Chattanooga home, as they immerse themselves in the maker space, the local markets, the public art displays and the great music he has discovered here. And true to his maker mentality, he also seeks out the platonic ideal for the city. Ideas include an expansive selection of family0owned ethnic restaurants representing cuisines from all corners of the world, botanical gardens in which you can get lost among the flowers, and maybe even see some of the floating bonsais that he sketches in a utopic vision.

Talking to Seth is like having your brain energized by the light saber he holds in his picture above – sending tiny zaps and waves of ideas that spark your mind in a thousand different directions. Among his inventions are a rocket stove prototype – practical, beautiful to those seeking efficient sustainable warmth (pictured above) and a bracelet with hidden security compartment inside (pictured below).

The aforementioned light saber and a cabinet with built in angled dish drying rack (not pictured). Each of these and many more come from Seth’s inner need to create more beautiful and useful solutions for everyday life. What began with a grade school obsessive detailing and interest in comic books developed into a skill for welding and blossomed thanks to a thirst for knowledge and the inspiration of books like David Brin’s The Practice Effect. For Seth, day dreams and passing comments become holy grails on a quest to make things better.  He would love for his items to be marketable but also thrives on them simply being appreciated, a form of empowerment that supports the tireless reworking of minutiae to make his imaginings into reality.

And within Seth’s mind there are undoubtedly countless more ideas to come. A creative with an inexhaustible passion, I look forward to living in the future of Seth’s dreams – just look for him in one of the cob houses—the next item on his bucket list.

To see more of Seth’s work, go to visit his website

“These creatives are inventors and scientists, pragmatists and practitioners, instigators and introverts, experimenters and thinkers.”