Rena Tom Rena Tom


Inside EAT, a new Downtown Las Vegas restaurant.

I have a terrible habit. I like to start projects. I mean, I really do – all the time. The bigger the challenge, the more my eyes light up.

For me, the biggest, most interesting challenge right now is the one where desire and the physical world collide. The physical world does not always do what you want it to. Loosely, this is what Bryan refers to as ‘matter battle‘. The mind can go so fast and far but objects have fairly finite limits, and objects and materiality is suddenly of great interest to everybody. I’m thinking of everyday 3D printing which is what everybody is talking about right now.

When I went to school for engineering, 3D printing was something being tinkered with in university labs, and I spent way too much time thinking about physical laws, tolerances, and unpredictable failure. When I graduated, I left that behind for the brand-new online frontier, but after burning out on that, I eventually was drawn back to it when I opened my store in 2005.

A store is a nice marriage of desire, objects, and the space that both can inhabit. I love objects you can interact with, and spaces you can inhabit with your body. Probably having a three-year-old has something to do with it; Ivo is just learning how to control his limbs, what rocks taste like when you lick them, what ‘heavy’ means, what limits are.

All of this leads up to me thinking that as the online world becomes more ubiquitous and seamlessly enjoyable, we can’t neglect what the physical world has to offer, which is difficulty, and boundaries. I like the sense of accomplishment I get when I learn how to navigate the odd rules of the physical world and am able to come up with solutions. Makeshift is my latest example and feels once removed from the store because the interaction is now about the people who create, design, manufacture, name, and sell those objects of desire. Having a real space to maneuver in, though, is still really key.

The next potential project I’m embarking on is possibly a sidestep instead of a progression, but still something I have thought about for a while. I can’t leak any details yet but it would be a physical space, again, and focus more on desire for a certain kind of experience. Like Makeshift, there are myriad ways to let more people contribute, to let more people in. Unpredictable failure. It’s scary but also kind of awesome. Stay tuned.

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  1. Janine says:

    You’re awesome, Rena. I can’t wait to know what it is. I wish we were in the same city!

  2. Jay Nelson says:

    I’m the Mayor of Hendricks, MN and just came across your site when looking for sidewalk signs. You’re an exceptional talent. I’m keeping you in mind for future efforts, in the chance you’d wanted to help an entire town with their retail presence.

    Jay Nelson

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