Below is my design report for the upcycling project.
When looking into starting the upcycling project I knew that I wanted to make a piece of furniture for my apartment. While I enjoy creating art, I felt that it needed to also have a function in order to be justified in bringing something else into a small college apartment. I knew that I wanted to embrace the meaning of upcycling by using the largest amount of recycled material as possible, and spend the minimum amount of money that I could.
As for the artistic vision of the project, I wanted to focus on having the piece look like it fit the other furniture in the apartment and didn’t stand out too much. Currently my apartment has a lot of blacks, browns, and blues in it. I knew that this would be a good starting point for a color scheme of the project.
After determining the vision of the project, I had to find some inspiration for how to go forward with the project. Looking around the apartment I noticed that we had a bottle cap collection laying around.
Bottle Cap Collection
It was with this observation that the idea for the execution of my upcycling project came into being. What if I were to use the bottle caps as some kind of decoration for a table? I knew from some previous experience that bottle cap art is a prevalent aesthetic in today’s society and specifically tables that are topped with bottle caps. A quick google search revealed all of the different cool thinks that have been made from bottle caps as seen below.
The idea of a table topped with bottle caps seemed like the perfect fit for a piece of furniture for a college apartment. I finally had an idea to move forward with for my upcycling project.
It was with this inspiration in mind that I set out to the thrift stores and scrap piles at Mcguckins to find the components that would make up my piece of furniture. The result from my adventures; an old outdoor pot holder stand, a framed mirror, some old sheets of acrylic, and a ton of hot glue. All in all costing me around $10.
Old Pot Holder Stand
With supplies in hand I began to build. First I arranged the bottle caps in a pattern on the mirror and glued them down to the mirror as seen below. Next step, creating a top.
Bottle Caps Arranged on Mirror
From my progress report I received some feedback to look into creating a resin top for the table. I looked into this more and saw some pretty cool looking bottle cap table tops. However, because of the mirrored surface I wasn’t convinced that that was the way to go. While playing around with the piece of acrylic I found I really liked the look it had when placed on top of the bottle caps. The bottle caps sat a little bit higher than the frame of the mirror causing the acrylic to give a cool floating appearance as well as allowing for plenty of light to hit the mirror and cause reflection of the bottle caps.
Floating Table Top
Finally, I painted the stand with some black paint I had laying around, attached the acrylic with some glue dots (ended up being virtually invisible on the top giving more of a floating appearance) and attached the top to the stand with copious amounts of hot glue (yay hot glue). The final project, as seen below, turned out nicely. It serves the purpose pretty well and I was happy with the result.
Final Result Side View
Final Result Top View
Ideal vs Actual Design Process:
Looking back on the project, it is interesting to view the project in the mindset of the design process. In class, our team created a design process for engineering projects that is similar to the flow chart seen below.
Traditional Design Process
Traditionally in the design process, a problem is defined with requirements specified. A brainstorming session is then held to come up with ideas. These ideas are then whittled down to a single idea for moving forward. This idea is then prototyped, tested and analyzed. After analyzing the design either goes on to the final design, goes back to prototyping, or goes all the way back to the problem being redefined.
Compared to the traditional design process, the process I went through, as can be seen below, was very different. In my upcycling project I went through the very linear process of creating design specifications, gathering inspirations from online search, determine what supplies I had available for the final design, perform some small prototyping to find the best way to use the materials, and then create the final product.
Upcycling Design Process
Unlike the traditional design process, there was very little room for iteration in this project. This mainly had to do with the fact that I had limited supplies with which to iterate. When I made a decision on how I wanted something to look I had to stick to that decision or loose the scrap material that I had. Because of this I had to be very thoughtful when proceeding from step to step.
Functionally, the table ended up working really well. It is the perfect height for the couches in the apartment and fits nicely next to it. The only problem I have with it is that it is not the sturdiest of furniture piece. It works for it’s intended purposes but I would maybe make some changes if I were to do it again.
Artistic Goals and Aesthetic:
As for the aesthetic design of the piece, it definitely fits the overall aesthetic of upcycling as all of the components are recycled from something else. Diving a little deeper, the table also has a sense of bottle cap art and college DIY. The final result certainly has an appeal, but does not pretend to be high quality at all. Overall it fits nicely into the aesthetics of the apartment and the characteristics of the tenants that live there.
Overall I am pretty happy with how the end table turned out. It fits well in the apartment and has found a home for the foreseeable future. I liked the concept of working with bottle caps and might use this project as an initial exploration I the cool things that can be made with them.