cardboard creation

My apartment is overflowing with cardboard boxes these days—from ordering a printer, envelopes, etc. for setting up my home office to ordering groceries from Fresh Direct, I’ve got boxes all over the place. I need to break them down and throw them in the recycling, but I always wonder if they’re going to come in handy in the future.

Like the way cardboard boxes were an actual necessity for a project I did in architecture class in college. The challenge was to make a chair out of cardboard using a minimal amount of cardboard and no external fasteners—only cardboard. My friend Emily made an adorable little “hard-backed” chair. One woman made something that could only be described as a plush chair, and while she completely ignored the “minimal amount of cardboard” rule, it was downright comfy. I took the charge to use a minimum of material to heart and decided to make a pyramidal stool.

Part of the process was making a model at ¼-scale. I love the mini stool so much, I’ve held onto it, and it’s served as a stepstool, an end table, seat, and a planter over the years.

cardboard stool model (by mintyfreshflavor)

Two arced pieces of cardboard curve into each other and are tacked together with tabs. Each tab is kind of like the letter T, so it stays put. The understructure “pinwheels” and forms the tabs that hold the two pieces together along the x axis; along the y axis the tabs serve to hold the support in place and are a decorative element.

cardboard stool model (by mintyfreshflavor)

You can see some tape down there at the bottom, but believe me, it’s just tape that was remaining on the cardboard box I used (remember, too, this was the model—meant to be thrown together and used to ensure the design worked—the final was made out of clean cardboard). The top, which I was graded down for, especially in light of the fact that I kept calling it a “lid,” which made it all too clear that I hadn’t fully thought out how to incorporate the seat, is also attached with the same kinds of tabs.

cardboard stool model (by mintyfreshflavor)

It’s starting to look a little worse for the wear, 10 years after I made it, especially since it wasn’t made to last—the full-size model was really sturdy and is probably hard at work in a dump somewhere. I ultimately hated the final piece, though it worked perfectly well as a seat. The tabs seen here are so lovely and perfect—about ¾ inch tall. But when you multiply by 4 and have just 5 giant tabs down the sides, it looks . . . ugly. If I’d been more ambitious, having the tabs this same size on the larger model would have been fabulous.

But at 9 inches tall and with a 12 x 12 inch footprint, it works just great as a footstool. I keep it under my table where I work now—better than resting my feet on top of my printer!

cardboard stool model (by mintyfreshflavor)

12 Responses to cardboard creation

  1. casey says:

    That’s cool! A cardboard footstool seems nicer than a big stool. That’s amazing that you still have it! I have very little stuff from college and none of it was even as big as that.

  2. abby says:

    I love things made from found objects that are still functional after 10 years. I’ve been making lots of runs to the local wine store to pick up boxes lately, and while it’s handy to keep them, you can always find boxes when you need them.

  3. brenda in toronto says:

    wow – that project must have meant several intimate hours with an x-acto knife! and they physics of it are amazing – who’d have thought cardboard could be sturdy enough for a step stool?

  4. gleek says:

    ah, i’ve been wondering if you were going to talk about that! i think that the project sounds like it was a lot of fun. i have nothing worth keeping left over from college :)

  5. Meg says:

    I think now that you are 30, you are allowed to collapse the boxes and put them out for the recycling. The potential need for boxes in the future can be met in all sorts of ways you wouldn’t have thought of in your 20s.

    But go you and the model stool!! I had the same assignment in my architecture class at uni, but luckily it was an optional assignment, and I chose a different option, but someone in my class made the most amazing plush chair and ALSO ignored the ‘minimal use’ rule! (Is this all getting a bit too much Griffin & Sabine?)

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