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.
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.
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.
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!