Designer: Colin Selig
Location: Walnut Creek, California, USA
Propane Tank Bench
Design and fabricate a functional, durable, and elegant park bench, suitable for garden or public space, from a discarded propane tank.
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 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.
Core77: How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
I watched the jury announcement on-line with a few friends. When my name was announced as a runner up there was much hooting and hollering. Victories are always more fun if you have others there to share them with you!
What's the latest news or development with your project?
I am continuing to get lots of positive feedback. This week I found out that the city of San Rafael in Marin wants to have several on loan. I currently also have pieces on loan in the city halls of Santa Clara and Walnut Creek. My goal is to sell these to municipalities, especially those committed to sustainable design. I am also doing some product placement by loaning benches at corporate HQs of large architecture firms.
Tell us about a moment of insight during the development of your project
My biggest eureka moment since entering my bench into the core77 awards contest was when I realized how many other design possibilities there are for seating made from these propane tanks. I have been busy creating additional prototypes and have attached images of two of them:
The design of "Propane Tank Chaise" is based on the lines of the classic chaise lounge. A slightly larger left end and a seat that tapers down from left to right subtly reinforce the more dramatic asymmetry of the backrest. I choose to have it powder coated in antique pink to enhance it's sensual lines.
The stylized lines of the "Propane Tank Lips" bench are based on Salvidor Dali's 1936 "Mae West" sofa. Lips are a culturally iconic image but I don't think anyone has ever done them before out of a propane tank. I think the same could be said for the chaise lounge.
Since these benches are suitable for a wide range of indoor and outdoor locations where resilient, avant-garde seating is desired I have begun to market them to architectural firms, construction companies, and municipalities, all of whom can earn LEED sustainability credits from the U.S. Green Building Council for installing them.
Read on for full details on the project and jury comments.