Thursday, 25 April 2013

Cardboard Chair in a Weekend

I know that reposting old projects doesn't really count as content, but nothing else I'm doing at the moment is really that interesting, from a blogable perspective.

Anyway, people seem to like watching this video (ignore the audio, originally I had 'Montage' by DVDA, but Youtube forced me to replace it)
It's a time lapse of me building a (very robust) cardboard chair over the course of a weekend.

It was part of a one week project where groups of us were given an artist / project to study (in my case Enzo Mari's 'Autoprogettazione') and then produce an object an image and a drawing.


The final product of Enzo Mari's project was a set of drawings, each one detailed how to very simply build a piece of furniture using pine planks from old pallets and a handfull of nails.
Project 1123 xQ - "autoprogettazione?", Enzo Mari

The idea was was to circumvent furniture manufacturers and give anyone the ability to construct their own furniture. Essentially a collection of open source furniture.

At the time I was living in a very small student house, I hadn't built up my own set of tools since leaving home and after not too much effort I had failed to find anyone who would give me old pallets.
So my reinterpretation of the project involved designing a chair that I could make, with a scalpel, glue and found cardboard.

My first steps involved experimenting with cardboard structures.

I found inspiration in the cardboard itself, the most common type of cardboard is corrugated. A thin wavy layer is sandwiched between two flat layers to produce a more rigid sheet.
I simply enlarged this structure.

 I was able to make elements that were strong in compression but had little to no tensile strength. So I looked for other cardboard structures and found a whole heap of strong cardboard tubes in our print room (from the large format printers).

So I decided on a rough shape for my chair (I procured some larger tubes from a carpet shop)  and began the arduous process of creating two massive corrugated panels.

The final thing was a beast, I'd over engineered it. The side panels could easily have been half as thick, and whilst the larger tubes were good and sturdy, they weren't too comfortable. I should have used lots of smaller tubes, in place of the 3 large ones.
But it did get used as a chair, and to this day I've yet to see a sturdier cardboard chair.

I've since discovered that IKEA uses a similar structure for it's cheaper furniture. It's simply a cardboard honeycomb sandwiched between two very thin bits of hardboard, which have the wood effect on.
If I could manufacture large corrugated sheets, they could be cut with a panel saw and I could make all sorts of cardboard furniture really easily.

The object was finished and the video fulfilled the photo part of the project.
I also very hurriedly put together an IKEA style construction manual for my drawing. Which, despite the rushed drawings and a wholly unhelpful step 6, looked pretty good on newsprint folded into a little booklet.

Unfortunately I had to leave the behemoth at the student house when I moved out, but I'm currently working on a light weight chair to cut out on my CNC machine, however my machine is so small that its going to end up being in about 100 pieces.

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