For my first Aesthetics of Design project, the challenge was to upcycle in some way. I’m a fan of upcycling, but I wanted to build something that I wouldn’t just throw away after graduation. I wanted to build something that I could foresee in my house someday. Because of this, my table might not look upcycled in any way, but that was the look I was hoping for.
My inspiration came from a combination of furniture and architecture. Last year, I helped my parents remodel their kitchen to a contemporary and functional space. The inspiration for my table came from the clean white surfaces with a hard and shiny finish that contrasts to the dark wood. I wanted to combine the easy-to-use nature of straight forward, clean design with the aesthetic I explored at the beginning of the semester, which focused on melding organic materials into inorganic shapes and forms.
The first picture was the inspiration my parents used for their kitchen, the second and third is their actual kitchen before it was completely finished.
The elements I would try to incorporate in my design was the cascade of one material, only broken by a contrasting material. In the case of the kitchen, the cascading material was the wooden end. In my design, I would swap the wood’s role for a hard, inorganic looking material. I would also hope to make a very approachable and functional side table. Again, I’m aiming for a high quality piece that I would be happy with using for years.
I starting sketching ideas and came to the final design that I was generally happy with. I was going to build the one with the blue shelf, but instead of having a colored drawer face, I would use a dark hardwood.
From this point, the design process was quite linear. I went to ReSource in east Boulder and found a decent piece of poplar wood from an old shelving unit. I also found some 1/2″ thick plywood that I would build the drawer with. Once I knew what I was working with, I laid out a design with all the dimensions need for the cabinet and the actual drawer. The ITLL wood shop became my main workshop. Below are pictures of the cabinet being clamped for pocket screws and glue.
Once the basic structure was made, I was not surprised to see that the wood I found was somewhat warped. This meant that there were ugly creases and cracks throughout my table. To solve this, I went to McGukins hardware and found wood epoxy that I used to fill in all the cracks. I also picked up some high quality white acrylic spray paint. Below is the cabinet with the putty cured and ready for sanding.
Once I sanded down the edges to a clean shape, I painted it all white. With that being easy enough, I made the drawer front by gluing together two pieces of walnut I found at the scrap pile at home depot. I also put a matte clear coat on the drawer front to make it look a bit more “finished”.
From here, it was easy to nail the drawer front to the actual drawer and install the sliders I also picked up at home depot. And just like that, I had a finished side table!
Through this process, everything was pretty linear and easy. I suppose I was designing a pretty easy product and I made all my measurements before I cut any material. A few hitches arrived when I had to fill in the cracks from warped wood. I also decided to take out one of the horizontal members on the front of the table, but these are more aesthetic tuning than big setbacks. I did also have to cut the drawer sliders so that they wouldn’t protrude from the back of the cabinet. However, with a finished side table, I can truthfully say that with good preparation, the design and fabrication process can be very smooth and linear. It probably helps that I was working alone and didn’t have to answer to anyone if I wanted to make a change.
I think this table meets all of my functional goals. The drawer is smooth and and the table supports my weight. In a perfect world, Id like to have a completely flush front with a “push-to-open” drawer slider.
This table looks nice, but I can’t say it completely meets my artistic goals. I wish the white was glossier and even harder. To solve this, I could use more paint and even add a layer of hard resin on top to get a really solid feeling cabinet. I’ve also had the thought of making the white part out of stone, like my parents kitchen. This would be more involved than wood, but it would also reach the aesthetic more and possibly be a higher quality piece.
I’d like to keep trying at this type of furniture, maybe I’ll make something bigger with the same style, but with higher quality wood and better hardware and sliders.