Cardboard is just a throwaway material, short-lived and impermanent. But it doesn’t have to be. While cardboard may perform mostly temporary functions in our lives, it can serve as the basis of some absolutely amazing sculptures, furniture, functioning electronics and even entire offices and apartments. These 45 works of recycled and reclaimed art made with corrugated cardboard might just get you to look at the material in a whole new light.
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What’s the greenest tree of all? Unless you’re simply decorating an evergreen that’s already growing in your yard, a recycled cardboard creation might just be the answer. Cardboard Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes, from intricate handmade versions to flat-pack kits you can purchase online.
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Eco-minded retail stores – whether permanent, or just temporary pop-up shops – utilize cardboard in the most amazingly creative ways. Lulamae used post-consumer cardboard to create its entire flat-packed store, and a shop called Low in Lisbon, Portugal utilized molded cardboard for shelves, benches, tables and stools. The store eBarrito features a cool display made of cardboard tubes, and the Athens boutique Yeshop used edge cardboard to sculpt its walls. Australian apothecary Aesop used cardboard for a product stand, and a Hiroshima boutique called Karis has cardboard tubes suspended from the ceiling.
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Cardboard has been used to create art of all sorts. Would you imagine that lowly toilet paper tubes could turn into fascinating scrunched faces, or that the corrugated material could be arranged to resemble aerial landscapes? It has been the medium for three-dimensional graffiti displayed on gallery walls. You can even take a crack at it yourself with a very ambitious project: Instructables has the instructions to make a 17-foot-tall cardboard Ghandi statue.
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Painted bookshelves and flat-pack chairs. A table set made of cardboard tubes. Fun furniture items in the shape of animals. Surprisingly comfortable lounge chairs. Even a barely-altered cardboard moving box can become a sturdy bench or table. Check out all of the possibilities at Inhabitat.
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Offices tend to be pretty unhealthy places, thanks in large part due to the toxins that are off-gassed by cheap pressed-wood-and-vinyl furniture. Maybe next time, your company should follow the lead of ‘Nothing’, a creative agency in Amsterdam that made an entire office out of cardboard including desks, chairs, shelves, cubicles and even steps and a small loft. This effect is achieved on a smaller scale with ‘Pop Up‘, a mobile flat-pack office that transforms from a sheet of cardboard into a platform with a desk and chair within seconds.
Stereos, Cameras and Computers
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Actual functioning electronics made out of cardboard abound. You can find speakers systems, boom boxes, cameras, computers and more that use cardboard as a biodegradable, recycled, eco-friendly housing rather than plastic or metal. The Recompute PC was an entry into the 2009 Greener Gadgets competition. The handy portable boombox has an iPod dock and is so realistic, it would take you a moment to realize what differentiates it from others that look similar. The i-Ecko speakers are commercially available on Amazon for just ten bucks. Another cardboard radio has an appealing vintage look, and there are many cardboard cameras that look amazingly complex, like these by Kiel Johnson.
(images via: dezeen)
409 cardboard cylinders of varying diameters and thicknesses were connected with ties to create this beautiful dome-shaped pavilion called Packed. The pavilion was created by design students Min-Chieh Chen, Dominik Zausinger and Michele Leidi of the ETH Zurich in Switzerland using CAAD (Computer Aided Architectural Design) and was exhibited as part of the Shanghai Expo 2010.
Cities Big and Small
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You can walk into the temporary communities that make up the Russian collaborative art project Cardboardia, erected November 1-6 every year in the city of Ulyanovsk. Artist Ana Serrano’s Cartonlandia is much tinier but even more complex with little roads, vehicles, trees and people. Another miniature cardboard city was built by director Michel Gondry for his film ‘The Science of Sleep’ and displayed at a New York City exhibition entitled ‘The Science of Sleep: An Exhibition of Sculpture and Pathological Creepy Little Gifts.’
An Entire Cardboard Apartment
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A full-scale apartment was erected in Times Square in November 2010 as part of a fundraising effort for Serving the UnderServed (SUS), an organization that provides housing and additional services to the homeless and disabled. The cardboard apartment featured a bed covered in folded cardboard clothing, framed photos, an alarm clock, a telephone and even slices of bread coming out of a toaster.
(images via: inhabitat)
Does making a bike out of cardboard make it less tempting to thieves? The novelty factor alone may negate that intended effect, but then again, it would only cost you $30 to replace it. That’s the biggest perk of this project by Sheffield Hallam University design student Phil Bridge, which can hold a rider weighing up to 168 pounds. The bike is all cardboard except for the tires, seat, chain, gears and pedals.
Bridge by Shigeru Ban
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Japanese architect proves the strength and durability of cardboard by erecting a cardboard bridge across the Gardon River in Southern France. Made of 281 cardboard tubes, the bridge is strong enough to carry 20 people to the other side of the river all at the same time. Ban has figured out how to engineer the bridge so that the tubes can stand up to the weight. “It is a very interesting contrast, the Roman stone bridge and the paper bridge. Paper too can be permanent, can be strong and lasting. We need to get rid of these prejudices,” Ban said.
(images via: design boom, reuben miller)
Can you guess the size of each of these two cardboard vehicles? It’s hard to tell, but the top one is a full-sized cardboard sculpture by artist Chris Gilmour while the second is a miniature made by South African Kasi Custom Rides. The scale of Gilmour’s works doesn’t quite come across until they’re placed in context.
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A musician named Hilary Grist built a full-sized cardboard piano and covered it with a miniature cardboard city to use in one of her music videos, and artist Chris Gilmour is responsible for the piano hanging from the ceiling as well as the guitars.