Desk Shelf

Made by Lily Oberman

Through this project, I am hoping to resolve my struggle with organization, specifically when it comes to my dorm room's desk. Although I like using my desk to do homework, I find that I am constantly prevented from doing so by it's cluttered nature. I am hoping that by making a project that will increase storage space and organization on my desk, I will minimize clutter and be able to work effectively on it without having to clear it off beforehand.

Created: December 2nd, 2018

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Intention

When deciding what to make for this project, it was clear to me that the primary issue I have in my day-to-day life is organization. Looking at my perpetually-messy desk, I decided that a shelf designed exactly to fit the dimensions and storage needs of my desk would be an incredibly useful tool in becoming more organized.

Research+Context

Throughout my design planning process I kept in mind Martin Heidegger’s definition of “things”, Walter Benjamin’s definition of “authenticity”, and Aaron D. Kochel’s definition of “participatory culture”. I made sure that my project would fulfill a practical, useful purpose in order to be characterized as a "thing" rather than merely an aesthetic but functionless object. I also kept in mind the concept of authenticity to guide my shelf design, ensuring that the layout of the shelf, the engravings of the faces, and the form of the pencil holder all helped to create a unique aesthetic for my project and serve a purpose that was specific to me and could therefore be characterized as authentic. Lastly, I wanted to make sure that my project was something that other people could interact with and benefit from. By making a desk shelf, I hope to improve the overall neatness and appearance of my dorm room in a way that will benefit my roommate and anyone else who comes into the room. These are concepts thatI kept in mind as I went through the process of planning, modelling, cutting, printing, and finally constructing my final project.

Aesthetic Inspiration

My inspiration for this project came largely from the peer interviews we had in class, which helped me to pinpoint a problem I have in daily life and formulate a holder that might remedy it. I also drew inspiration from a friend's desk shelf and how much it helped her to clear up her desk, and how much it contributed to her room's aesthetic. I decided that even though I could buy a shelf for my desk, the only way to tailor it to suit my personal needs in structure and appearance would be to make it myself.

Sketches

Initially, I wanted to create a shelf entirely out of wood with a small bookshelf space on top and 9 cubby spaces, and a layer of cork on the front of the back panel that I could use to hang pictures. I created sketches to visualize what the shelf itself would look like and additionally what it would look like in the context of my room, with the contents of my desktop space arranged across it. I also created a sketch of a pencil holder I wanted to 3D print to enhance the organizational capabilities of my shelf while also complementing it in appearance.

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Process + Procedure

After I began modeling the shelf and pencil holder in Fusion, I made a number of changes to these initial designs. For one, I realized that my intended dimensions for the shelf would necessitate the use of acrylic rather than wood for the back and top components. While this was initially disappointing, I grew to prefer the transparent nature of these pieces and their ability to let light through. I therefore decided not to put cork board on the front of the back piece, since this would block out light and take away from the aesthetic appeal of the shelf. I also eliminated the top shelf in favor of a simpler design that wasn't quite so tall. I removed the cubby on the right so that the shelf would actually be able to fit my lava lamp in that space.

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It is important to note that in my sketches and renderings for this project, I was unable to customize the appearance of my shelf so that both the back and top were acrylic, although my final product has the correct materials. Additionally, my original model for the pencil holder displayed above was too large to be 3D-printed so I modified it and printed the design below.

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I used the Stratasys printer to 3D print the pencil holder and a Rabbit Lasercutter to cut the pieces for my shelf. Below are the renderings of the desk shelf.

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Reflection

The most difficult part by far of this process was creating the slots that allow the shelf to fit together. From painstakingly dimensioning them in Fusion, to re-modelling slotted faces so that I could create DXFs for each, to re-cutting components whose slots did not fully cut out. Despite the number of hours I spent modeling and creating this shelf and the number of modifications I had to make so that it would work correctly, I am very happy with how my shelf turned out. I think that it will be an incredibly useful tool in improving the organization of my desk, and I am very satisfied with its overall appearance and the effectiveness of the slots in holding it together. However, were I to make it again, I might choose slightly different materials. Even though I enjoy how the combination of wood and acrylic looks, the back and top pieces fit together in such a way with the rest of the shelf that they slide out easily, which makes transporting the shelf difficult.

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Digital Tooling (DigiTool) provides a platform for any CMU student to learn Digital Fabrication processes; all of which are very hands-on. Like these processes, this class is also very hands-on. I...more


About

Through this project, I am hoping to resolve my struggle with organization, specifically when it comes to my dorm room's desk. Although I like using my desk to do homework, I find that I am constantly prevented from doing so by it's cluttered nature. I am hoping that by making a project that will increase storage space and organization on my desk, I will minimize clutter and be able to work effectively on it without having to clear it off beforehand.