As the Senior Design Director for Innovation at Nike, it seems a futile effort to farm and foster a “side job” of any degree, but Tom Rushbrook believes it to be a necessary component of his collective creativity.

“It’s like I tell my team,” reflects Rushbrook about his leading role for the world’s largest footwear brand. “The more creative you are outside of work, the more creative you are inside of work.”

The theory is that creativity replenishes creativity; rather than draining the well, secondary passions have the ability to fuel primary passions to heights unachievable in isolation. And that’s where Rushbrook’s “side job” of Krank Hardware doesn’t distract from his bread and butter, but ultimately adds a tangible value that wasn’t there before.

Krank Hardware“It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day,” he continues. “So I wanted something that got me out of my own head, something creative outside of my work that would round me out as a character and allow me to control my own destiny, from A-to-Z.”

He wasn’t necessarily seeking it by name, but when you’re open to the gifts of the ether, inspiration can strike in the oddest hours.

Two years ago, Rushbrook was in the thick of his work, heading up innovation for the global giant and pouring himself into his team’s footwear creations. He will admit, his head was nowhere near the thought of industry (outside of his daily duties), but while visiting a colleague’s auto workshop, a low-lying passion was secretly sparked.

“Between the bikes and the cars, I saw a bunch of discarded con rods piled in buckets,” recalls Rushbrook. “Turns out, when they strip the engine for a race, mechanics throw these rods away by the dozens. I didn’t know why at the time, but I told him to hold on to them — I had no specific plan but knew something had to be done with these brilliantly machined pieces.”

After months of sketches, quick-turn iterations, tinkering, testing and tuning, a high-flying passion was feverishly ignited.

Krank HardwareDriven by an upbringing of “waste not, want not,” Rushbrook determined these con rods [the piece that attaches the piston to the engine] could be re-purposed to create a most burly-but-beautiful bottle opener.

“The engineering to make a con rod is someone’s sweat,” he says defiantly. “I hate to see it go to waste. Especially in this day and age, where we’ve gotten so into hiding everything away, these pieces celebrate the artisan age — when workmanship and precision were in the forefront — I just liked the idea of keeping it exposed and utilitarian.”

And that’s just what Krank Hardware is. Utilitarian. Purposeful. Functional.

“It’s not rocket science,” he persists. “We’re not curing cancer or putting man on Mars. To me, some of the best and most revolutionary inventions come from simplistic thinking and basic problem solving.”

A dual function bottle opener (for prying off and/or twisting off caps), Rushbrook designed a custom, bronze-infused, 3D-printed, stainless steel insert that fits neatly within the negative space of a forged aluminum con rod. For presentation sake, the industrial bottle opener rests within a bespoke doug fir box and is enveloped in a corrugated cardboard sleeve.

Nothing fancy, but everything elegant.

Krank HardwareSafe to say, the Krank Hardware product is a manifestation of Rushbrook’s passion for good design and his attraction to what he appropriately calls sweating the benefit.

“I ask myself, what is the benefit I’m trying to achieve and the problem I’m trying to solve,” he explains. “I am not a fan of disposable design, so everything I do is for pure benefit — not just aesthetic — it has to be solving a problem. Everything has to serve a purpose.”

Mission accomplished.

With this acute focus on function, the Krank Hardware product story is a lasting lesson for the passionate creative in us all. While home brewers and mechanics are the top consumers, Krank Hardware is a grand reminder of the greatest, simplest truth: long live craftsmanship, purposeful design and the often overlooked reality that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

To learn more about Krank Hardware, visit their Instagram.

Krank Hardware