Cardboard Furniture (1972)

Frank Gehry was one of the first designers to produce cardboard furniture, having created the Wiggle Side Chair in 1972. Manufacturers had been seeking an alternative to plastic since the 1960s but struggled to find anything that could compete with its light flexibility.

cardboard furniture design. Frank Gehry

Image source: https://www.fastcompany.com/1271974/building-plane-nope-its-frank-gehrys-newest-chair


Ghery’s Project

According to Vitra, the Swiss contemporary furniture company that has produced Gehry’s cardboard furniture designs since 1986, the architect saw a pile of corrugated cardboard outside his office one day and began to experiment.


One day I saw a pile of corrugated cardboard outside of my office – the material which I prefer for building architecture models – and I began to play with it, to glue it together and to cut it into shapes with a hand saw and a pocket knife.

Ghery’s project is the perfect example of Ecodesign: an ecologic and enviromental friendly object made of recycled materials and with low impact producion and dismission processes.

Info source: https://www.ft.com/content/65ebb456-97cc-11e3-ab60-00144feab7de

 

Easy Edge

Easy Edges is the name given to a series of furniture designs by Frank Gehry from 1969 to 1973. These early designs were partially responsible for Gehry’s rise to public recognition in the early 1970s. After discovering that corrugated cardboard layered enough times in alternate directions builds strength into the piece and make it suitable for the everyday use, Gehry created a series of pieces of furniture such as the “Easy Edges Wiggle Side Chair” that take advantage of the versatility of cardboard as a medium. Gehry’s use of cardboard as a medium demonstrates his “fundamental concern with manipulating basic materials in unconventional ways to produce objects that are functional yet also visually striking”.

Frank Ghery Easy Edge collection

Image source: https://www.arredativo.it/2013/recensioni/salotto/poltrone-salotto/easy-edges/

However, the Easy Edges series never reached high production volumes due to sales prices exceeding rates Gehry had expected. That, in addition to Gehry’s aversion to the role of a furniture designer rather than that of an architect resulted in a cessation of production until in 1986 Vitra AG relaunched four models from the Easy Edges series into production including the “Wiggle” chair.

Info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easy_Edges

 

Frame construction and coverage

In the Beginning of the 1980s cardboard furniture becomes very popular in France by the technique of Eric Guiomar. It is totally different to the technique of Frank Gehry. The furniture in the technique of Guiomar is made with corrugated cardboard, simple, double and triple groove. First, a frame is created with intertwined cardboard plates which are cut out according to the original design. This is the support frame of the piece, just like it would be the case for a ship. Then, the frame is covered with cardboard that will be “rolled” on its forms to a perfect fit. This technique allows a great freedom in the choice of shapes and materials.

Cardoard furniture frame structure

Image source: https://www.decoist.com/2013-01-09/creative-cardboard-furniture-ideas/

Info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardboard_furniture

 

Eco furniture

In the U.S. nearly 200 pounds of cardboard are waste per person. Most is recycled, but some ends up being burned or in landfills, where it’s the 2nd-most common item. Instead of a fiery death, these boxes were upcycled into furniture.

The pieces are molded by hand, dried in the sun, sanded and then a finish is applied.

Image source: https://insteading.com/blog/cardboard-furniture/

Recycled cardboard is broken up into small pieces, soaked in water and turned into a pulp that serves as the base material for furniture, vases, bowls and sculptural pieces. The pieces are molded by hand, dried in the sun, sanded and then a finish is applied. The cardboard which originated as wood, essentially is brought back full cycle by taking on a wood-like quality again.

Molded Cardboard Bench

Image source: https://insteading.com/blog/cardboard-furniture/

Info source: https://insteading.com/blog/cardboard-furniture/

 

Cardboard potential

Many have since exploited the natural properties of cardboard, creating appropriate load-bearing structures without the need for connecting material such as glue, and addressing its less desirous properties; cardboard can now be made both waterproof and fire-retardant, thus increasing its durability.

It is both a light and strong material. As an example, foldtheory stools  are capable of holding 200kg in weight, but can be folded and packed away with relative ease. The secret lies in both the design and the fold of the cardboard itself, with corrugated or honeycombed forms proving most popular for furniture. Computer programs have greatly aided this process, allowing designers to manipulate these folds to create visually appealing, robust structures.

Gehry Grandpa Beaver Chair The 1986 “Experimental Edges” were Frank Gehry’s second collection of cardboard furniture.

Image source: https://insteading.com/blog/cardboard-furniture/

Ultimately, the current trendiness of cardboard is not solely due to its cheapness, but rather its lower comparable ecological footprint. Its pre-production and production footprint is much lower than more durable material, owing to its recyclability and minimal transportation costs.

Shigeru Ban architects: Cardboard cathedral

Image source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/thinking-outside-box-rise-cardboard-furniture-design-farah-beaini

Cardboard is now being used as a cost-efficient and portable construction material for trade show stands and temporary installations, something that can be quickly installed and packed away for future use. Cardboard has managed to succeed where other materials have failed. Its quick, easy transportation and assembly make it ideal for creating temporary housing for those affected by crises, as exemplified by Ban’s incredible work in Japan, Rwanda and New Zealand.

Info source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/thinking-outside-box-rise-cardboard-furniture-design-farah-beaini

 

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