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10 Most Awe-Inspiring Projects of 2011

Out of all of the projects we've posted on this year, there are ten that stood out for the creators' originality and their ability to inspire us to no end. These made us stand back in awe, almost in disbelief that someone could not only think of such a creative idea but execute on it so flawlessly. While in some cases it was a collaborative effort involving many people, in still others only one person was involved, who dedicated countless hours to completing his or her seemingly insurmountable task.

They challenged us to push our own creative limits and asked us to see the world in a remarkably different way. As we start off the new year, may these people inspire you to pick up that project you've been meaning to get to or start taking those lessons you've been putting off. Here's to making 2012 your personal best year ever.

(To go deeper, you can click into each image.)

1. National Geographic's Up-Inspired Floating House

They actually did it! National Geographic Channel and a team of scientists, engineers, and two world-class balloon pilots successfully launched a 16′ X 16′ house 18′ tall with 300 8′ colored weather balloons from a private airfield east of Los Angeles, and set a new world record for the largest balloon cluster flight ever attempted.

2. A'Shop's Massive Art Nouveau-Inspired Mural

For 16 days straight, from dawn to dusk, five highly determined Montreal-based artists (who make up the artist run collective A'shop) worked on a graffiti mural of a Mother Nature-esque Madonna or a modern-day version of “Our Lady of Grace.” Inspired by Czech Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha, the crew created this breathtakingly beautiful five story mural using 500 cans of spray paint in over 50 different colors.

3. Steve Kuhl's Ultimate Pirate Ship Bedroom

Designer Steve Kuhl fulfilled every boy's fantasy with this insanely cool pirate ship bedroom. More than just an incredible design, the ultimate pirate ship bedroom was the culmination of a father's dream. As the designer Steve Kuhl told us, “Our client grew up as a repressed type-A child and never really lived the childhood he dreamed of. He had to help support the family from a young age. When he became a father one of his goals was to give his son, Zach, a childhood full of play and adventure.”

4. Andrew Myers' 3D Portrait Made of Thousands of Screws

Laguna Beach, California-based artist Andrew Myers used thousands of screws to make these incredible 3D portraits. As he drills in the screws, Myers doesn't rely on any computer software to guide him, he figures it out as he goes along. “For me, I consider this a traditional sculpture and all my screws are at different depths,” he says.

5. Banksy's Stained Window

First shown at MOCA's Art in the Streets exhibit, Banksy's 23-foot high Stained Window was a collaboration with the City of Angels public school in Los Angeles. Students were encouraged to write tags on panels erected in their schoolyard before Banksy adapted them.

6. Eduardo Rolero's Surreal 3D Street Art Illusions

Eduardo Rolero travels across the globe, sharing his gift of surreal imagery on the streets. There's a certain life-like quality to the visuals he produces, because of their three-dimensional appearance, yet he maintains an illustrative aesthetic.

7. Simon Dale's $5,200 Hobbit House

Simon Dale is responsible for the design and construction of this eco-home, despite his inexperience in architecture and carpentry. The 32-year-old photographer was tired of mortgage payments and had a passion for nature. Equipped with a chainsaw, hammer, and 1-inch chisel, the determined family man began construction on a plot of land in the woods, which the family luckily gained ownership of in return for their care of the area. The home was constructed for a grand total of 3,000 (approximately $5,200).

8. Amy Shackleton's Extraordinary Brush-Less Paintings

Amy Shackleton, who is only 25-years-old, is a unique artist. While her paintings use tons of paint, she doesn't use paintbrushes to create them! Rather, she squeezes paint onto canvases and then allows the paint to naturally drip. She then rotates the canvas to control the direction of the drips, making her paintings appear natural yet controlled.

9. Mike Doyle's Spooky Victorian Lego Houses

Artist Mike Doyle created these beautifully detailed Victorian mansions out of nothing but Legos. He uses no outside materials when creating these houses, and one house can take up to 600 hours to make and uses 130,000 pieces to build.

10. Jonathan Mak's Minimalist Tribute to Steve Jobs

This minimalist illustration of Steve Jobs' silhouette replacing the bite within Apple's logo quickly made the rounds on the Internet. Created by Jonathan Mak, a 19-year-old design student in Hong Kong, it was a sad but perfect way to pay respects to a man who believed in thoughtful design and beautiful simplicity.

Which projects inspired you this year?

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