Readers who remember the 1987 smash hit "Living in a box"” by the band with the same name will get their money’s worth from this article. Those a bit younger might feel transported back to childhood where a simple, big cardboard box held a myriad of possibilities. See for yourself what a long way cardboard design has come as you take in cardboard offices, furniture, sculptures, a cat cocoon, kids’ furniture and more….
Dutch Designers Joost van Bleiswijk and Alrik Koudenburg created this cardboard office for Amsterdam-based advertising agency Nothing. The idea behind the "no screw, no glue" approach was to create an office that would turn the agency’s clients into brand ambassadors, using the most nothing-building materials they could find. A clever advertising strategy but then, they should know!
Nothing’s design is not new; people have been experimenting with cardboard furniture and objects for a while as you will see. But one can safely say that Nothing’s design and office composition is the most aesthetic and well-thought out to date. For those worrying about spills – relax, thick cardboard will be able to take a spill and there are many ways to waterproof it. And if all else should fail, it’s no big deal to replace parts of the furniture.
Nothing staff urges visitors to treat their brown walls as a blank canvas and leave their marks. Inviting as the thought already is, they asked illustrator Fiodor Sumkin to start with the first drawings. On the left is one of the results.
Pop-art "Church" (2004) by Chris Gilmour.
Cardboard experiments are not limited to furniture as the designs by British cardboard artist Chris Gilmour show. Yes, there is such a thing as a cardboard artist, and Gilmour has dedicated his work to replicating everyday objects, from the most mundane to cars and architecture. The hanging piano in the first image is his creation too.
Says Gilmour about his cardboard obsession:
"I like the idea of concentrating on the material in its "natural state" and playing with the idea of these beautiful objects represented with a material from the waste basket. … Maybe it’s a way of re-appropriating or taking control of the things around us, which if you live in a city are pretty much all man-made. … By using a material which everybody knows and understands, I can build on the pre-existing associations to develop ideas and ways of reading the work. It’s a way of creating a language which is understood by many."
Indeed. Just look at this Aston Martin. You could almost image James Bond sitting in it. This life-size model sure inspires one to hop in and see if it’s functional. But that may be the next generation of cardboard designs: functional cardboard cars with changeable exteriors, similar to cell phone covers.
Not only people have loads of fun with cardboard furniture but animals too! This recycled cardboard cocoon would invite any cat to play. Or maybe just to take a snooze. Designed by Warren Lieu, it’s perfect for lovers of cats and the environment.
Cardboard designs seem perfect for kids’ furniture as well because cardboard is reasonably priced, colourful and can be folded up when not needed anymore. It is also sturdy. This storage bench by Israeli furniture design company Krooom weighs only 2.7 kg but holds the weight of a child easily.
Krooom uses only recycled or recyclable materials which don’t lack in sturdiness. This colourful table and chair set for kids is finished with a high gloss: waterproof lamination that should increase its durability. The only challenge now is to not break out into “We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine…”
No need for adults to feel left out after seeing all the cool cardboard furniture for kids. Just check out this cool coffee table that would brighten up any living room. Love that stamp design on the side!
How about these Yin-and-Yang bookshelves produced under Eric Guiomar's cardboard creation program?
Last but not least, here’s a cardboard living room complete with grand piano, pictures on the wall, grandfather clock and sofas. The Cardboard Room was the brainchild of Bill Bragg, who assembled it with Chelsea students in just four weeks. The detailed drawings were done by Steph von Reiswitz. If this isn’t complete living in a box…
Okay, for those who’ve been humming “Living in a box” while reading the article, here’s the video:
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