Cardboard Furniture

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During Christmas season, incredible amounts of packaging waste are being generated. As packaging material is cheap, most products are being covered by several layers of plastic, paper and cardboard. Usually these mountains of trash are immediately being discarded once the products they contain are set free.
Paper production has an especially devastating impact on the global environment. About 40% of all logging activities can be attributed to paper production. Recycling rates of paper are still being relatively low, especially in the USA, where 26 million tons of paper waste find their way into landfills1.
However, there are ways one can reuse paper products such as cardboard and give them a new value, for example by transforming them into – furniture.

Usually, cardboard is used as a one-way packaging material. However, it is also possible to create long-lasting products from it. Cardboard is a cheap, light and sustainable alternative to other materials, such as plastic or hardwood. It can be made out of recycled paper and can be completely recycled.
From tables to shelves, nearly every piece of furniture can be made from cardboard. Several small start-up companies deliver the pieces of cardboard alongside with an Ikea-style leaflet of instructions to put them together. The costumer then assembles the pieces of cardboard or disassembles them when it needs to be moved. It is surprising how much weight assembled cardboard pieces can safely carry. For pieces which are supposed to last longer, thicker material can be used, or thin cardboard pieces can be glued together.

Furniture made from cardboard is not a new idea. In 1972, Frank Ghery created the «wiggle chair», a piece of designer furniture, which is still available today and even exposed in museums. Formerly cardboard furniture was mostly the work of artists and designers, but now we witness an increase of small businesses and DIY projects.

In the USA, a young entrepreneur, Zachary Rotholz, created his company of cardboard furniture through a kickstarter campaign. The Chairigami furniture not especially designed to last, but their main purpose is to be used in situation where they need to be constantly moved such as colleges, open office spaces or at any kind of temporary events. The aim is to reduce the amount of furniture made from wood or plastics which are bought and thrown away only a short time later. It is ideal for students who often remain only a very limited period in the same place.
Rotholz’ designs are almost all open-source, on his website people could suggest improvements for the chairs, couches and shelves he offered, and customers change the way they are supposed to be used or assembled.

The German company uocu produces modular shelves which can be adjusted by the customer according to his or her special needs. In this way, only those elements which are really wanted by the customer are being delivered.

It is also possible to make this furniture on your own. There are many very good DIY-explanations to be found online how to build your on chair, table or bench. On foldschool.com there is a collection of plans to make cardboard furniture for children. Hundreds of youtube-tutorials show how to transform you spare cardboard from Christmas into beautiful and original pieces for your interior design.

A nine year old boy from the USA invented another very creative way to use old cardboard. He used the cardbard which was left over from his father’s store to build an arcade. Caine’s Arcade became world-famous; today, there is even a Caine’s Scholarship Fund and a foundation sponsoring creative children. Similarly incredible is the story of Izhar Gafni who built a fully functioning bicycle from cardboard.



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Picture with courtesy of Jonathan Choe


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  1. […] besonders in den USA, wo jährlich 26 Millionen Tonnen Papiermüll auf den Müllhalden landen1. Allerdings gibt es Möglichkeiten, Papierprodukte wie Pappe wiederzuverwerten Zum Beispiel, indem […]

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