Here is a cool example of functional art by an artist named Gabriel Wiese. Its made out of corks:
From the site I found this on :
"His furniture uses steel construction and support, and stacked corks from wine and champagne bottles. Wiese says, "this way the material keeps its own history, even while getting a new one through my creation".
Also, I thought of these stairs that were in a new super up-scale shopping center that we just saw in Vegas over the break. Each step has hundreds of slabs of Brazillian agate imbedded into it, and is backlit so that the light shines through the design. I thought this was a pretty spectacular design idea, though I couldn't track down the name of the designer who constructed it. Here's a pic: