Propane Tank Bench
Design and fabricate a functional, durable, and elegant park bench, suitable for garden or public space, from a discarded propane tank.
Well designed, gorgeously executed; shows off the little-seen sensual side of giant industrial volatile liquid containers. This is a gorgeous object, beautifully made, and its origins make it even cooler! Really well done. Great craftsmanship for a fun piece. Love the hint at its origins with the retention of the flammable sticker. Bonus: it just looks awesome.
Propane Tank Bench
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
The problem I set out to solve was to design and fabricate a functional, durable, and elegant park bench, suitable for garden or public space, from a discarded propane tank.
My imagination was stimulated as I considered possible ways to dissect and reassemble the curved forms of the tank.
I was excited because neither I, nor anyone else to my knowledge, had ever made a bench from the ubiquitous propane tank. I knew I was breaking new ground.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
The point of view I brought to the challenge was that it would be a fun metal working project for me.
Originally I set out to make a single bench. Before I was done I ended up making four pieces of seating from that single tank, each one made entirely of material from the tank. At the end of this process I had recycled 99% of the tank.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
When I designed this seat I considered the interests of the following:
The user, who wants it to be comfortable.
The observer, who wants it to be beautiful.
The owner, who wants it to be unique and durable.
The fabricator, who wants it to be easy to put together.
And our planet, who wants us to reduce waste, reuse and recycle.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
Both form and function influenced my design.
In terms of function, I wanted this bench to be comfortable for people with many different body sizes. I began by making the seat 16-1/2” high, which my research indicated is a common seat height for park benches. Next I had dozens of people of various body sizes sit in the seat so I could make adjustments to the exact position of the backrest before I welded it in place. The 38 inch diameter of the central cylindrical section of the tank forms a curve that is actually quite comfortable to sit on as well as lean back against.
The other aspects I addressed in terms of function were strength and durability. Since curved and compound curved forms are inherently structurally sound I knew that my designed would be extremely strong, especially given the substantial 5/16 inch wall thickness of a steel tank which was engineered to contain gas under high pressure. To make the piece durable enough to stand up to the outdoor elements I had the entire surface powder coated once I completed the fabrication.
Creating a pleasing visual form was the most significant factor in my design and I will let the pictures that accompany this application speak for themselves. I decided to color the piece in the tank’s original parchment white, reaffix a “1075” propane warning sticker, and leave the original lift hooks in place, all as a way to reference the material’s previous incarnation.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
The social value of my design is that it’s environmentally friendly functional art made from a common item which creates a spot in space for people to sit, relax, and socialize.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?
I have no regrets and don’t feel there’s anything I would have changed along the way. However, if the question is “Are there things I could have changed?” then the answer is “Yes” because additional designs came to mind as I began to imagine alternative ways to cut up the capsule-like shape. And I have already gone ahead and begun to fabricate some of them.