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cardboard furniture

Everything old is new again, or maybe I mean it the other way around.

Since we’re planning on only being in this flat for a couple of years, we’re trying to make sure that we don’t encumber ourselves with a lot of stuff that’ll cost us a small fortune first to buy, then store or move or sell or give away. That includes furniture. But how do you manage all that without the waste of buying awful, cheap-looking furniture that you don’t feel guilty for throwing out at the end of its not very long life?

Well, what about some furniture made from materials that would be recycled anyway?

Cardboard furniture has a long history, much longer than people think. Frank Gehry’s landmark cardboard furniture (like the Wiggle chair below) raised the profile of the ability to build sturdy furniture out of cardboard that didn’t look much like the original boxes.

Gehry laminated layers of cardboard, laying each piece with the grain running at right angles from the one below it for strength.

Rather less structured (and expensive) cardboard furniture is available, though, and the cardboard furniture movement is active in Europe, especially France, where Eric Guiomar and his various students have begun their own artistic movement of making cardboard furniture, calling themselves cartonnistes.

Really! That’s really cardboard! La cartonnière’s Flickr photostream has some beautiful pieces in it.

There are various companies offering cardboard furniture around the world, though, and a couple of my favorites are Cardboard Design (which does a lot of industrial convention and meetings work) and Kartonart Design, whose video shows cardboard bookcases so easy to put together, you can assemble them while also holding onto a baby:

One woman who ordered a bookcase said that it caused great merriment when the shipment arrived as a heap of cardboard, but a year later her bookcase is still going strong, still packed full of her books.

I’ve ordered Eric Guiomar’s DVD for making cardboard furniture from Vinestreetworks. I imagine it’s harder than it looks, as these things often are…but we’ll see!

In the meantime…looks easy, right?

Some things, though, I will never cut costs on. I firmly believe a good mattress (and a good night’s sleep) is key to a good life, for instance. And a good chef knife is one of the few things I insist on in my kitchen, along with a Swing-A-Way can opener, as I’ve never found any other can opener that works as well as a Swing-A-Way. I don’t think the design has changed much since 1939!


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