Upcycle Design Report – Organic Modern Furniture Piece

Upcycle Design Report

Organic Modern Furniture Piece

ATLS 4279 – Aesthetics in Design

AJ Terio



The Inspiration

The design and multi-functionality of this furniture piece is something that I have been planning in my head for quite some time now. It is made to serve multiple purposes and is to be placed in a specific location back at my home in Alexandria, Virginia. A few years ago, my parents remodeled our kitchen space, neglecting to take into consideration a few things that we would no longer have available to us due to the modifications. My simple awareness of the lack of these missing utilities–along with a cork board, which my dad has wanted in our kitchen–quickly transitioned to ideation, and I imagined that I could fashion a piece of furniture to supply all of these needs. That is when I decided with my mother that while I am at University I will find an opportunity to create this piece to fit perfectly within our home. 


The Aesthetic

This part of my ideation came only once I was introduced to the project prompts we would be following in this class. We were prompted to brainstorm an aesthetic that would match the visual/functional/charm we would hope to achieve in our future projects. I knew that my kitchen generally encapsulates the modern aesthetic, but I wanted this furniture piece to have something more. Since the location of this piece will be right by the back door (which happens to be a glass door) it lets in a good amount of sunlight, and so from this observation about the environment where this would be located, I decided to make my aesthetic for this design to be Organic Modern. I would affix greenery and locations for small potted plants to  be hung and placed. I do imagine in my final design however that this moss will be artificial, since it will be directly built into the piece, it would be difficult to constantly resupply the moss and hydrate it. 


The Purpose

This piece will be multifunctional, but what will those functions be exactly? I plan to incorporate a shoe rack, a shelf, coat/hat racks, planter hooks, a mirror, and a cork board all into this one piece of furniture, whilst incorporating organic elements to give it touches of green contrast to help transition from the kitchen to the backyard. 


The Process

Firstly, I had to gather measurements from my mother back home before I would be able to start designing any models for this project. Once she sent me these, I began working on sketches, showing the isometric and orthographic angles so I could get a good idea of the dimensions. I then moved onto CAD modeling, where I was able to input the exact dimensions and have a much better understanding of the scale of each component. From here, I got to work in the woodshop, using scrap wood and various other upcycled materials. These other upcycled materials included: sliced cork from champagne, small dead leaves from a bush, a thimble, scrap mirrored acrylic, scrap copper wire, and old white acrylic paint. Combined, these materials yielded me my final product for my scale model prototype!

The Prototype

That’s right, this is merely a prototype to my full scale design I plan to create in our second project this semester. The prototype is ⅛ of the full scale model, making it 1ft tall since the true size will be 8ft tall. The reason I wanted to make a prototype for this project is because the dimensions for the area I actually have to work with are very constraining, so I wanted to see if I could manage to visualize and build something that could comfortably fit within these dimensions. The prototype is missing a few things that I plan to incorporate into the final design, but I believe that so far as prototypes go, this is a great success. It does its job representing the complexion and vibe I want this design to have. 

The Goals

Component Pieces

Something massive that must be taken into consideration with a design like this made for the particular purpose I have in mind for it is that it must be able to travel with me halfway across the country. The idea I have follows a similar line of thought that I had for a similar project where I made a bookshelf for my family, making the furniture piece into component pieces that can be built into the full stand. This is something that I was not able to incorporate into the design of the prototype due to its small size, but it is essential to the main project in order for me to be able to bring it home. 

Ornate Carvings

Another goal that I have in mind is to detail this piece with ornate markings, shapes, and floral patterns to really make it stand out. I plan to mainly incorporate this style into the shelf in the middle of the piece as well as on the rims and maybe where it intersects the ground. 


I would also like to define a solid base for this so that it has a firm structure where it is needed and so it will not fall over. The firm base is also important to me since a lot of the traffic that this piece will get will be at the base on the shoe rack. 

Wall Mount

While this will be a piece that is able to stand on its own, due to the constraints on how wide and secure I was able to make the base, this piece will need some kind of support on the back to connect it to the blank wall it will sit in front of. I imagine something as simple as a pocket joint could do the trick, but I may go the route of including metal hooks to the back. One thing that influences me to favor interlocking joints is that I want this piece to completely flush with the wall, so I don’t have much room in this way for error. 

Metal Shoe Rack

One very good criticism I received from someone in my group made me think about how shoe racks generally are taken care of. I imagine this rack will get dirty overtime and I have no doubt my mother will try to clean it however she can, so I will do whatever I can in the design to make this easier for her. I believe using removable metal slide in shelves will be best for this, but I imagine this will be hard to procure, so I may end up using wood still and simply using a more arid design with slits and the ability to remove it easily to clean, but this part of the design is definitely still in ideation. 

Moss Placement

One thing I definitely do not have down is where and how I will situate the artificial moss to the piece. I know that I want it to hang down from the ceiling and take up a good portion of the 7-8ft range at the top, it will likely only be on the upper half of the piece, and I would like it to mesh with the cork and hug over the walls a bit. Other than these general specifications, I have not yet defined the exact shapes and locations or overall surface area that the moss will inhabit. Sketches and further ideation will be included in my next report.

Coat/Hat Rack

Lastly I know that I would like to include 1-2 hooks on the left side of this piece, I just have to figure out how to make them component to the rest of the piece. I will probably indent small holes and use more interlocking joints to achieve this, and again I have not decided on the material, however metal hooks may actually be easier for me to find.

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1 Comment. Leave new

  • Alexis Cisneros
    February 26, 2024 10:37 am

    Hi AJ,

    I really like your project and the progress you’ve made. I think its a really good idea to create a smaller prototype of your project. It seems like you’re ahead of the game. Your post was very informative and detailed. I look forward to seeing your ideas come to life!


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