People pay attention to bottle design, sure—but what about the cap? Brooklyn-based product designer Bradley Patrie began collecting bottle caps in 2009, and has since acquired over 500.
What attracts Patrie to the humble cap? He explains,
Patrie photographs and features his collection on his Tumblr, Cap Index. We talked to the designer about his fascination with the small-but-mighty bottle cap.
Are all bottle caps welcome into your collection, or do you discriminate?
I don’t discriminate. I think some of the modern caps that you might see every day are less interesting—but that’s not what the collection is really about. It’s not a curated “series” or anything, so if I see one I don’t have and it’s ugly as fuck I’ll still put it in, although it hurts the designer in me.
What prompted your bottle cap obsession/collection?
I collect for fun and for inspiration. I like the design challenge of a bottle cap. You only have 1 inch to get your brand’s voice heard and be recognized. Labels are always so cluttered with nutritional information and ingredients and the like, but the cap is free to be super simple and I love that.
Do you clean the caps or alter them in any way?
I don’t clean these caps at all. People have given me funny looks when I’m walking on the sidewalk and see one buried in the dirt and start digging it out. I like the grime and grit that’s built up on them, I think it tells a little story. If one was pried off really violently it makes it so much more interesting. I store them in a giant fishbowl in my apartment, but I thought photographing them would kind of be like a binder of baseball cards.
When did you first get into collecting things?
I used to collect baseball cards when I was a kid. My older brother was always more into it than me, so I was never too attached to it. I’m a designer now, so collecting these tiny little 1 inch designs feels a little more like it was meant for me.
Do you throw away all the containers once finished?
I try to recycle most of them, but I don’t keep the bottles. Bottle or can collecting occurred to me at one point, but I like the smallness of this collection and the bottles always wind up smelling like shit.
Do you think bottle cap collections will become a trend?
I think when the world ends and radiation rules the land, bottle caps will be used as a form of currency.
Has the Internet changed the way you collect and communicate with other bottle cap collectors?
I have never met another bottle cap collector, but would love to.