engiNERDart marries creativity with functionality in fun, simple lamps

Revenge of the (Engi)Nerds


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It comes up after you’ve dragged yourself out of bed and it goes down way before you’re ready to hit the hay—in a perfect world, the sun would revolve around you.

Instead, you make do with a measly desk lamp and fluorescent overheads. But where’s the fun in that? Where’s the style?

Leg lamp from A Christmas Story: too corny.
Genie’s lamp from Aladdin: not enough light (or wishes).
Lava lamp: What is this, the ’70s?

You need something to light up your room, and that seashell lamp you filled as a kid just isn’t cutting it anymore. You want something modern and sleek, with a spark of creativity. Chad Watanabe, the owner/designer of engiNERDart, has that spark, in more ways than one.

Watanabe, a Hilo native now living in Salt Lake, mixes functionality with whimsicality in his simple, yet fun, designs. (You can tell from the name alone that he doesn’t take himself too seriously.) He uses his background in electrical engineering to wire lights into his own creations, such as his Andy Warhol-inspired soup-can lamps and his animal-cracker-box lamp with Hawaiian animals on it. Right now, he’s working on a 1950s kokeshi-doll lamp with the folks from Shop Toast in Kaimuki. The repurposed doll, found in an antique shop, is just one of the atypical materials Watanabe likes to experiment with. And it would go great with your Japanese-themed décor, unlike the crystal chandelier you’ve been eyeing.

After a few design classes at OTIS Art School in L.A., Watanabe moved home in 2009 and put what he learned to work. He frequently takes woodblock-printing classes at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, as he prefers to do things with his hands and not with Photoshop, which makes every piece unique. He plans on incorporating some of his hand-carved prints into his lamps, and is even doing a Japanese Woodblock Printing demo at his booth in the Honolulu Festival this weekend.

Now that’s enlightening.

engiNERDart will be at the Honolulu Festival Craft Fair this Saturday and Sunday in the Hawaii Convention Center, near the ewa-entrance atrium on the third floor. Lamps are between $130–$200 each, woodblock prints are $20–$40. Mention Lei Chic for a 20 percent discount. You can also order online from the engiNERDart Etsy shop and use the code "HONOLULUMAG" for 20 percent off. Contact Chad at engiNERDart@gmail.com for custom work, and see more of his designs at engiNERDart.tumblr.com.

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