Opposite Upcycle Aesthetic: Steampunk compared to Scandinavian

For context, the aesthetic that I have chosen for my upcycle project is the Scandinavian aesthetic. Scandinavian designs consist of simple, minimalist, and modern designs often utilizing natural materials and neutral tones. Currently, I am working towards creating a household planter made out of recycled hockey sticks. After removing the paint and logos, the natural color of the wood can be seen in the composition and the simplified shape of the planter is inspired by the Scandinavian aesthetic. Conversely, Steampunk displays several contradicting characteristics when compared to Scandinavian designs.

Scandinavian Aesthetic Example (1)

As opposed to a modern approach, Steampunk takes its inspiration from the steam power of the 19th century. Many of the stylistic cues hark back to an industrial setting and have influences from science fiction and fantasy. Steampunk takes very little inspiration from nature and instead uses stylistic cues from machinery. The use of metal and metallic colors is generally very common in artistic compositions and rarely displays organic or minimalist shapes. Furthermore, steampunk features the use of materials like brass, iron, dark woods, and leather that present a historic and almost dated appearance. I think that this provides an excellent contrast to the Scandinavian aesthetic (2).

Steampunk Aesthetic Example (3)

Drawing from these steampunk characteristics and considering the scope of my Scandinavian project, a contradicting upcycling project would be to create a steampunk-inspired spade. Considering that my current design for a household planter provides an opportunity to grow plants, creating a spade which is often used to uproot plants from the soil effectively serves as a foil to what I am trying to achieve. In this way, a Steampunk spade would serve as an opposite aesthetic in both form and function. In contrast to the wood from hockey sticks used in my current design, this spade would most likely be metal for the majority of its construction with the handle having a leather grip. I would be interested to see if it would be possible to use recycled hockey skate blades to construct the spade to reinforce my upcycling theme using hockey materials. However, skate blades are made from hardened carbon steel so this would be difficult to machine or weld if need be. In terms of the handle, the leather grip could be made from recycled goalie pad leather. Historically, goalie pads were made from real leather but now they are constructed with synthetic leather and nylon. Below I have included a sketch of what I think my opposite upcycling aesthetic would look like taking inspiration from steam engines, the Industrial Revolution, and the Steampunk aesthetic in general.

Opposite Aesthetic Sketch

From the sketch above, the edges of the spade are represented by hockey skate blades with the central shaft and core of the handle being made from recycled iron or brass. Overall, the length of the spade would be around a foot long for general use. Furthermore, I would be interested in working with recycled leather from old pads to construct the handle with other metal accents around the edges. Of course, this is the theory behind what I would do if I were to do something completely opposite to my current Scandinavian planter project.



  1. https://www.blanco.com/us-en/blog/kitchen-remodel-guide/design/how-to-design-a-scandinavian-kitchen/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk
  3. https://steampunktribune.com/what-is-gothic-steampunk/
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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Trent Bjorkman
    February 18, 2024 7:22 pm

    Hey Ian! I really like this idea. I think the juxtaposition of the steam punk aesthetic would work really well with this project: it feels like a good counter to the soft lines and minimalist themes of the Scandinavian aesthetic. If you were to make the spade, what material would you make it out of?

    • Hi Trent! I would want to stay in line with the theme of recycled hockey materials. Therefore, I thought that recycled goalie pad leather would work well for the handle and recycled skate blades could be used for some metal components.

  • Hi Ian, I think you did an awesome job showing detail and perspective in your opposite aesthetic sketch. In this hypothetical world, how long would the spade be?

    • Hi Ben! Thanks for the comment. I think that ideally, the spade would be around a foot in length for general use.


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