Design Review: Chinese Garden Table Top Fountain

For my final project, I will be making a table top fountain with a Chinese garden aesthetic. My inspiration comes from a table top fountain that my coworker has on their desk. It’s softly lit, sounds like a trickling stream, and the motor is nearly silent. The fountain I used to own was very loud and defeated the purpose of having a “zen” fountain.

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Inspiration of product

Options for vegetation include bamboo and the bonsai tree. Other Chinese plants that only require their roots to be submerged in water are also options. Bamboo is significant to the Japanese culture, so I will investigate how this influenced China. I will be heavily referring to the book The Chinese Garden: history, art and architecture to guide my knowledge of the garden aesthetic. I will also be researching current landscapes inspired by this aesthetic as well.

The picture above shows example architecture from a Chinese garden. Many gardens have structures with the same curvy wood panels that come to a point. I will consider building a small replica myself from wood scraps or small metal planks. The image below is some practice drawing plants found in these gardens.


  • I want it to be mostly handmade
  • If the development of my fountain’s functionality doesn’t work, I will buy a plain fountain and focus my time on developing the aesthetic
  • It should be quiet
  • If there are plants, consider location of fountain and light access needed
  • It should represent a Chinese garden to the best of my ability
  • Use plants native to China
  • Complexity should match that of an actual garden
  • It should be mobile
  • Don’t spend more than $100
  • Consider influences from Japanese and Korean gardens
  • Consider bonding materials
  • Use waterproof materials
  • Challenge: technical skills need work
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7 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey Jordan, I really like the aesthetic of this project. It is a calming and tranquil product and I think it will add a lot to your desk or table. It seems like you have a good course of action, good work!

  • Abdulaziz Alrashed
    March 18, 2019 2:07 pm

    it is a facinating design Jordan. I love your goal to make it fully by hand as it requires a lot of skills and would love to see the outcome. it is always good to have plan B and you definitely have one.

  • Hi Jordan,
    I really like your project idea here! It’s funny because I happen to be making a similar idea except mine is a Japanese Water Fountain. Either way I’m really excited to see what you end up creating! Good luck!

  • Alexis Nibbelink
    March 11, 2019 1:23 pm

    Very cool project idea. I like the aesthetic you’re going for. It sounds like it will be a very satisfying and relaxing product.

  • Abdulrahman Alnoaim
    March 11, 2019 1:23 pm

    This fountain is so aesthetically pleasing. Great job on the presentation as well! My only suggestion would be to make the pump the last thing to buy.

  • Chris Mcfadden
    March 11, 2019 1:22 pm

    Very Zen idea. I like that you want to keep to the true Chinese aesthetic and not Americanize it. Try using a really small dc pump.

  • Tanner Wismer
    March 11, 2019 1:20 pm

    This Chinese garden aesthetic is a really interesting idea. It seems you have a pretty solid idea for where you want this project to go. Your goals seem accomplishable and you have a good scope for this project. I am excited to see the final product! Good luck!


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