Cardboard Contradictions: 13 Clever Corrugated Creations

Pop-Up Cardboard Play Room for Kids

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Another pop-up design is a bit more practical, unfolding to unveil a cute little portable playroom for kids. Made specifically for small apartments that don’t have a lot of space for children to play, the pop-up by Liya Mairson creates a room-within-a-room and can fit under a bed when not in use.

Folding Cardboard Homeless Shelter


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Put yourself in the shoes of someone forced to live on the streets: in lieu of actual shelter, would you settle for something private that would keep you warm and dry? This flexible and low-cost folding origami ‘home’ is little more than a structured sleeping bag, but it’s easily packable and can fit in tight spots.

Blockbox: Lightweight and Durable Cardboard Shelving

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Incredibly lightweight yet surprisingly strong, ‘Blockbox’ is a 9-piece furniture system by Swiss studio Haeberli that can be used in all sorts of ways, from a bookshelf to a coffee table. Stack multiple units together in any configuration that works for your needs, and use paper adhesive to make them permanent or keep them separate for adaptability.

Low-Budget Office Interior in Amsterdam

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No budget for actual construction to create a lofted office in a big, empty room? Take a cue from Dutch advertising firm Nothing, who commissioned designers to build this cool interior entirely out of cardboard. There’s no glue or screws involved, and if one piece gets damaged, it can easily be replaced. The concept echoes the agency’s philosophy: “Nothing is about the power of ideas, how a single idea can transform nothing into something. Using a cheap throw-away material to build a unique and memorable work space, seemed a good way to materialize this thought.”

Bridges and Buildings by Shigeru Ban

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No one puts the strength and durability of cardboard to the test quite like architect Shigeru Ban, who uses this unlikely material to create bridges and even entire buildings. Ban has extensively tested cardboard tubes of the sort used to form concrete columns to see how feasible they are as construction materials, and the results are astonishing. The tubes are coated with paraffin wax and strengthened with glue so they can stand up to the elements. While these works are generally seen as temporary, some have lasted far longer than anticipated, like the Cardboard Cathedral built in Christchurch, New Zealand after the devastating 2011 earthquake.