The up-cycling project in this class, Aesthetics of Design is all about how you select leftover or unused materials and come up with a creative idea of building something using all of that, combined with an aesthetic of your choice. This in turn recycles the materials and creates an unmatched, blooming idea that was never thought of before. For my project, I built a folding table that follows a robotic aesthetic using just old cardboard boxes lying around at my house. This combination gave me a new outlook towards designing folding tables with a motive to achieve unique functionalities.
To start the project, I first thought of just building a foldable table using cardboard. To modify it further, I thought I would add critical functionalities needed for a folding table. Later I related it to a robotic aesthetic and fine-tuned it further to create the model.
This struck my mind when I was going through what all products I have and what I would like to improve in it. Further, I started looking into what are the unused materials leftover, is when I came across cardboard boxes that I has used during shifting into this house. I started dismantling the boxes, I approximately used 3 boxes to come up with the final design. With these two thoughts combined, I decided of working a foldable table that would cater to all my necessities.
I started sketching a few ideas for my foldable table and started looking up online for ideas of futuristic foldable tables. I came up with the required functionalities, such as reclining angle measure, holder for cables, chargers, a cell phone stand, height adjuster for the legs for better ergonomic capabilities etc. Searching for an aesthetic, I came across robotic aesthetic and thought that would be a perfect match for my product, imagine a table with robot like legs and arms, how cool is that?
I further streamlined my thoughts into a design, that intrigued me to build a folding table, that would almost look like a robotic foldable table, with legs that would protrude out to set the desired height, arms that would fold as per our need, which would technically act as the cell phone stand, and a small cabinet, more like a battery case that would function as the storage for the cables and chargers. This was enough to propel me to a great start for my upcycling project: Robotic Foldable Table!!!
My vision early on for this project was to just build a foldable table with some modifications. I was unaware of what aesthetic I could probably relate this to. So as seen in my product, it reflects how my vision transformed over the project, moving from just a traditional folding table to building a table that would somewhat replicate the robotic aesthetic with the arms and legs. For this project, I ideated it to be a model that would just showcase the design and the functionalities, it would not actually perform the functions. With thoughts coming to me on how to build a robotic arm or leg, as seen in the product, I have just used basic cardboard combinations to showcase the aesthetic. It was very interesting to see how my product changed over the duration taking a much better and creative shape. I can say that I have built what I somewhat envisioned at the start of the project.
This foldable table was made from old unused boxes. There was not a single product procured for this project. The whole model was built inhouse. It consisted of the following materials :
- Boxes (Cardboard)
- All-purpose Glue
- All-purpose Tape
- Blade Cutter
Design and Fabrication Process
This was a real test for me as I had to put down my ideas to action and come up with a product that could match my vision. This whole process was a trial and failure process, where I constantly learnt from my failures as to what I must improve to make it perfect.
The ideal design process would actually include a basic step by step procedure where we start from sketching, narrow it down to a final sketch, probably make a CAD for it, then build a pretotype for it, do some user testing, take feedback and further improve it while making the prototype. This keeps all the processes documented in an organized manner, and if needed we could go back to the previous step to make the necessary changes for the design. But I think if I were to follow this procedure I would not have ended up with what I have, I would rather focus on perfecting the design than getting my hands dirty and knowing what would it look like if I added this, or that.
For my actual design process, I just started off by tearing down the cardboard boxes, putting them side by side and visualizing what I can make out of this. After that, I made a rough sketch of how a folding table should look like and started designing the base of the table. Once that was done, I related the other parts and how that needed to look and where would it be fitted. I agree that this is not a traditional design process that I followed, but this made me learn the basics of prototyping better, where I was making random parts and attaching it to the table so that it would match my aesthetic requirements. As I stated before, the whole process was a trial and failure process where I was constantly learning and moving an inch closer to what I actually wanted to achieve.
For my fabrication process, I started off by building the base of the table that would just have two segments separated for two different functionalities. I cut three pieces of cardboard using a blade cutter of the same dimensions and stuck them all together using glue. Post that on the top part I stuck another piece of cardboard which is the corner piece of the box, this helped me showcase the reclining ability for the segments. With the blade cutter I cut the top portion into two pieces, that would recline separately as needed.
After the base was built, I started putting tape all around the corners to make it more rigid as we know how flexible cardboard is. Next was building the legs for the cardboard. For this I made equal segment cuts from the cardboard box and folded them into a rectangular shaped beam that would make it stronger. I pasted them using glue and put tape around them, to make them more durable. Next, I needed to cut the base of the legs into an inclined angle that would make it easy for it to be glued onto the base. This process was repeated 4 times for 4 separate legs. And then all of them were put onto the base of the table.
Next, I built the phone stand using 2 cardboard pieces. This basically included one straight member holding the stand in place and another horizontal piece to keep the phone on it. For the storage unit, I calculated the space left between the legs, accordingly I cut a cardboard piece and forming a trapezoidal shape, I glued it onto the base. I attached a small piece onto it that would practically let you pull the unit out to keep stuff in it.
To give it the robotic aesthetic, I thought of a lot of things, I finally ended up designing straight tentacles for the legs that would replicate the table as if it was robotic and it was walking. For this, I used 8 straight cardboard pieces, put 2 each together and attached it to the all the four legs of the table. This was the toughest part as the table needed to be rigid and strong enough when kept on the ground. Furthermore, I added small cardboard pieces all over for example, to show the reclining functionality of the base, the holder for your laptop etc.
The final model showcases what all was thought of and desired for at the beginning of the project, the legs would fold into the base and the base segments would recline as per the need. The cell-phone stand would fold down into the base as well. The objective of the project was to showcase the functionalities and not actually perform any of the functions.
As an art, this is somewhat close to what I had imagined at the beginning. Combined with the aesthetic, I have ended up with a successful art piece that showcases the robotic function included in a table.
I would really love to take this project further and fine-tune it in way that it does the needed functions. This could be considered as a pretotype, and the prototype can be made of wood.