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Hidden Gems: Meet Brian Tarpey of SET ACRONYM

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian Tarpey.

The three principals/co-founders of Set Acronym are Eliot Saarinen, Charlie Engelman and Brian Tarpey. The three of us were all born and raised in Los Angeles and have known each other for over a decade. We initially fell into design and fabrication as a means of offsetting the cost of our individual art practices. Problem solving and fabrication go hand in hand with creating art. The more fabrication jobs we took on the more we realized that with our combined knowledge, we rarely found a challenge or obstacle we couldn’t overcome. As the jobs grew so did our shop and our need for support staff. Today we have a warehouse space in Cypress Park we are a fully incorporated business with insurance and lawyers and project managers and big adult pants that we wear everyday. We have traveled the world doing this work and my business partners make me laugh everyday.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The scope and complexity of the work we do is challenging by nature both physically and mentally. On any given day, we are organizing, processing and moving metric tons of raw material (typically wood and metal) within a relatively small warehouse while simultaneously negotiating contracts, interfacing with clients, creating 3-d models and managing employees. Running a small business is a taxing pursuit regardless of the core business model, add a global pandemic to the mix and things can get pretty spicy. All that being said, we feel we are growing professionally and personally everyday. It is extremely taxing work but it is rewarding and that’s what keeps us coming back to this bumpy road of a business.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about SET ACRONYM?
SET ACRONYM is a design and fabrication studio located in Cypress Park, Los Angeles. The company was formed in 2016 by artists Eliot Saarinen, Charlie Engelman, and Brian Tarpey. Our mission is to combine the ingenuity, thoughtfulness and flexibility inherent to art-making with a high level of precision and craftsmanship. SET also prides itself on its ability to handle the management and coordination of any project, big or small. Moving through a multitude of industries has afforded us to work with a variety of clients; mechanical engineers, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, landscape architects, designers, creative directors and individuals looking for a special piece of furniture for their home. We flourish when asked to problem solve in new and challenging scenarios.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Huge risk takers. I never thought I’d find two business partners whose middle names were also danger but here we are. We go fast and use big loud machines that could kill us everyday. I’m also in constant danger of being crushed. Our first table saw was bought with poker winnings. My hands are always bleeding.

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Instagram: @setacronym

Image Credits:

Brian Tarpey Dreamscape Immersive Edgar Ramirez Charlie Engelman

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