Let your imagination go wild (or industrial in this case).
I have done a lot of out of the box furniture. Here is a man cave coffee table that I did for a client. I was commissioned to design features for his garage that would make it the perfect man cave to hang out with his friends and talk about gear head topics. He owns a Ferrari Testarossa, so I designed this gear coffee table with the outside gears to match the wheels on his car.
You can reach under the glass spin the gears. I used Afromosia and highly figured African Mahogany for the table. The table has a water jet cut glass top, 1/2" thick. There was about 240 hours of work in this project.
Here is a link to my video showcase if you want to see more;
Animoto - Shane McKenna Engineer - Designer - Artist - Craftsman
My advice is to look at the things that excite you for inspiration. Don't place any limits on what can or cannot see being able to accomplish. Leave all of the options on the table and continue to focus on the end result. With imagination, desire and time you can create anything.