In 2017, Europe recycled 84.6% of its cardboard and paper packaging. We derive this percentage from the total quantity of recycled packaging waste, divided by the total quantity of generated packaging. The same year, a study by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) states that businesses and consumers discard 10 million tonnes of furniture each year in the EU Member States.
We’ve all received goods, gifts, parcels and shopping in cardboard boxes. Usually, these packages are single-use. However, is cardboard a reliable material for making furniture?
Let’s look at 4 distinct projects that use cardboard to create sustainable and sturdy designs. Additionally, we will look at 4 inspiring designs.
Nest Bedding created Bedigami, which is a sustainable and 100% recyclable bed platform made entirely from cardboard. This bed platform comprises 5 support beams, 12 slats and 4 drawers. Assembly does not require tools, glue or screws. Using a simple fold and insert action, they easily put up the cardboard bed platform. Additionally, the Bedigami can support up to 453kg (1000 lbs). The video below shows how to assemble this cardboard bed.
The Nordwerk MC 302 is an open-source design, plans are available online for free. Nordwerk and Hive City create this cardboard chair using 15 Y-parts (slots open to the upside) and 15 Z-parts (slots open to the downside). To make this chair, they advise you to use 10 mm thick cardboard and cut using a CNC-Machine or equivalent technology.
Using simple design structures, slots and folds, designer Zach Rothholz creates tables, chairs, stools, sofas and shelves. He uses triple-ply cardboard similar to plywood but 20% of the weight. These durable, lightweight and sustainable Chairigami pieces of furniture are easy to assemble without glue, screws or tools.
ETH Zurich, design students Michele Leidi, Min‐Chieh Chen, Dominik Zausinger and Tom Pawlofsky, created the Packed Pavilion. They made this product from 409 cones of different diameters and thicknesses. The individual cones consist of 28 layers of corrugated cardboard. A computer-controlled machine cut, glued and labelled each cone. This project demonstrates how architects can use Computer Aided Architectural Design (CAAD) to integrate solutions and explore digital design.
Striking Cardboard Furniture
We had to include a bonus section of inspiring design.
We hope all these cardboard furniture and designs have inspired you to take a second look at this common material.
Let’s remember to consider cardboard, sustainable, strong and recyclable materials for short term and stop-gap occasions instead of large pieces of furniture that end up in landfills.