Frank Gehry, demonstrating cardboard strength via vitra
Cardboard furniture has been around for a while, ever since the early 70’s. Frank Gehry’s “the wiggle chair” designed in 1968, was one of the first cardboard furniture manufactured. It is actually still available today. A beautiful organic shaped chair, made of stacked cardboard with some additional hidden reinforcement. About the same time, came out the Otto cardboard chair by Peter Raccke (with a German accent) one of my favorites, if I may say, and a childrens table and chairs diy kit set by Riki Watanabethe from Japan. The technique Peter and Riki used was not like Gehry’s at all, but similar to packaging design.
the Wiggle chair by Frank Gehry 1968
the Otto chair by Peter Raccke via pulpo
1965 Riki Watanabe childrens set via loknstore
Since those two very different chairs came out, cardboard has been popular among many designers, design students, and the most creative of all - kids.
So why work with cardboard?....Why not?!....
- Because it is so easy to manipulate, you can do it your self
- It can be very strong
- You can find cardboard materials easily
- Cardboard is recyclable and biodegradable
Cardboard is very easy to work with. You can apply almost any technique in working with cardboard. I have stitched a hat and a suitcase, glued flip flops, taped a chair and slit cardboard into a dog shelf (muki). in building furniture with cardboard the biggest challenge is achieving strength.
Here are 3 different method for building with corrugated cardboard:
The “simple” method - stacking:
Creating the desired shape by cutting multiple layers of cardboard and gluing them one on top of the other. (Like the wiggle chair I mentioned previously by Frank Gehry).
The bright side:
Very easy to plan
Works great with organic shapes
The downside (can be bright sometimes depending what you're looking for):
Uses lots of material therefore heavy
Cats LOVE to scratch stacked cardboard
Here are some great examples of working with layers:
Saxum double-sided chair by Simone Carminati for Gruppo Pozzi S.r.l. via retaildesignblog
The “smart” method - folding
Creating furniture by folding cardboard into desired shape (think origami), achieving structure by folding triangular shapes.
With this method, planning is more difficult. You need to know what you're doing.
Also, one may need larger sheets of cardboard, which is harder to find. The results are usually very appealing and one can achieve high level of sophistication in the design.
Other great resources are the books by Paul Jackson: both folding techniques for designers and structural packaging.
The hybrid method
Combining both structural grid with a cardboard envelope. This method is very easy to plan and design, doesn't take too much material, and produces light pieces of furniture. it works better for simple geometric shapes, but doesn't work that great for curved shapes.
This is the method I used for this project.
follow this board for more cardboard projects
Stay tuned for diy instructions for the cardboard sofas. Coming soon