The Suitcase Lady


May 21, 2019, 9:19 pm

Amazing as it may sound, cardboard is coming into its own as a building material. Architects and designers around the globe are creating furniture, interiors and entire buildings from this humble material usually thought of in connection with the word “box”.

Architect Frank Gehry was one of the first designers to create cardboard furniture with his Wiggle side chair in 1972. He got the idea from a pile of corrugated cardboard stacked outside his office. From building cardboard architectural models, he knew the material became strong when glued together. His furniture consists of corrugated card board glued in alternating layers. He did this unique test to prove the furniture’s strength.

Cardboard is now being used worldwide to create unique interiors as well as entire buildings. Here are two interiors constructed entirely of cardboard, a cafe in Mumbai, India, and a retail store in Los Angeles.

Architect Shigeru Ban thinks bigger. He won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2014 for “his innovative use of cardboard and his dedication to humanitarian efforts around the globe.” Using large cardboard tubes, he has designed housing for refugees from earthquakes and wars around the world. His units are sturdy, sustainable and recyclable. Some are long lasting as well. His “temporary” cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, built after the disastrous 2011 earthquake, has an estimated lifespan of 50 years.

And, finally, a Dutch design group named Fiction Factory has designed a cardboard house that has a life expectancy of up to 100 years. Called the Wikkelhouse, it can be assembled in days.

I must note that another species surpasses us in its use of cardboard for housing. I have yet to meet a cat that does not instantly convert an empty cardboard box into a kitty condo.

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