Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Upcycling Unwanteds - Room Divider/Screen

The first part of my exploration for this project was a trip to Reverse Garbage in order to attempt to find a suitable material at the end of its usage life.
I found this trip to be mostly ineffectual in terms of finding a suitable material. However I did come across some old pianola rolls – a punched roll of paper used for playing music through an outdated automatic piano. I immediately realised some of the potential of the material. The light plays well through the many tiny holes perforated through the paper, and it was a natural, recyclable and lightweight material.

I intended to use this as the main element of a screen or room divider in order to utilise the interesting property of the pianola roll. I felt however that the roll by itself was not enough in terms of volume of recycled material, so I attempted to find another material which was similarly at the end of its usage life.
The first possibility I found was discarded PVC piping however I was advised that this was not a good material to be used as it did not work well in combination with the paper roll.

Cardboard was the next possibility explored. This seemed extremely suitable for me because it would work well in terms of material quality with the paper roll. It was also extremely attainable from a number of different locations, an important quality to consider in mass-production of the object. The cardboard’s strength in a plane could be utilised in the screen’s frame, and this allowed for the use of the box as a whole with no offcuts.

I hoped that the combination of pianola paper and cardboard together in this way would increase the perceived value of both when combined in an elegant solution.
The last item added was used bubble wrap packaging which was laminated with brown paper after wrapping objects during removal. This was used to provide a surface which could be cut to provide an element of silhouette in the screen. This material was suitable because it allowed a sharp edge with no feathering due to the nature of its construction.

When actually constructing the screen, I laminated the cardboard frame with PVA glue which I found to have the least environmental impact being water based and soluble. Also used in the construction was a small number of ordinary office staples used to hold pieces in place while gluing and also as a permanent method of fixing.
I was advised that my product would be mainly targeting a female audience. I was in agreement with this assessment so I decided to use a floral element as my silhouette and feature of the screen.
Furthermore, I used two different sides on each side of the screen in order to allow a change in the room and to add further interest to the product.

Some regrets I have at the end of the project was not being able to dedicate enough time to finding an elegant and highly functional solution to the issue of a hinge between the two screen panels.

The solution I found was functional but it was not well finished and it was not as elegant as I would have liked to have seen in my final product. However apart from this I am happy with my resulting product and feel that I have explored an avenue of upcycling as a whole I had not before considered so closely. This project allowed for an enjoyable and thought-provoking way to explore the idea of upcycling in real-life products.

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