MATERIAL SPOTLIGHT: CARDBOARD

We’re currently in the process of doing a lot of moving so top on our shopping list is the humble cardboard box. We take cardboard for granted but rely heavily on this great invention everyday. From protecting our belongings when moving, to binding out books, cardboard has so many uses that it’s easy to forget just how amazing a material it is. So today we take a look at cardboard, it’s origins, it’s uses and it’s future.

Cardboard is basically layers of paper glued together. Okay that’s quite a simplistic statement but that’s how cardboard began. In the mid 19th century, layers of paper were joined together to provide a rigid but cushioned surface for use in transporting delicate goods. Although it wasn’t used as a shipping material until 1871, a corrugated version was used as a liner for tall hats, but then in 1874 Oliver Long improved the design by lining both sides of the corrugated cardboard and produced the cardboard we know and use today then 16 years later the American Robert Gair discovered by accident that by cutting and creasing cardboard he could create prefabricated cardboard boxes which placed the custom made wooden boxes for the day.

In today’s world cardboard is used for everything from furniture to playhouses to production vehicles, cardboard is an incredibly versatile, low weight, high strength product that can be recycled again and again.

Cardboard is incredibly strong and combined with it’s light weight is why car companies such as Volvo use it in the floor of the boot and speaking of Volvo, have you seen this clever bit of furniture made from cardboard. Inspired by the taillights of their C30, this chair can be used as  chair, footstool and side table all in on.

While we’re looking at chairs, one of the most iconic cardboard creations comes from the iconic designer himself, Frank Gehry. The wiggle chair is a bold statement showing just how strong and versatile cardboard can be.

For something a little quirkier in the seat department, the flexible love seat by Taiwanese designer Chishen Shiu, folds out in an accordion style to allow up to 8 people a place to site.

Quite sweet in it’s design but not as strong as the design of the wiggle chair, this would still make a great statement piece or better yet a fun piece of furniture for a kids room.

Some more cardboard ideas for the kids, like these cardboard chairs that come in plain white to allow your child to decorate their chair as they see fit, which is a great idea to help spark their imaginations, although we would encourage you to remind them that it’s only THEIR chair they can decorate.

If you’re kids are you’re cats then don’t worry there’s some cardboard fun for them to. From Suck UK, these printed pre-cut sheets are easy to assemble and will soon have your cats imagination running wild as he pretends to be a fireman, pilot or army sergeant.

Aside from the fun and quirky things cardboard can do, think of all the in supermarket displays that will soon feature easter eggs of all shapes and sizes, hot cross buns and other easter assortments. Although at times over looked thanks to the mountains of chocolatey goodness they contain, these displays are can be anything from a plain box to a highly styled pop up cabinet.

The future of cardboard is endless, with more and more products being made from recyclable materials and more designers and manufacturers pushing the boundaries of these materials, there’s no telling where will see cardboard being used. Ideas like this biodegradable tent from young designer Vanessa Harden, gives us a sneak peek into the future of cardboard and how it can be used in even more unsuspecting circumstances.

So the next time you see some cardboard just have a think about what you could make from it.

Images from Re-Nest, In Habitat, Karma Trendz, Suck UK, SP Group and Gizmag.


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