There are many who look at cardboard as useful only in the form of boxes in the service of storage and for the transport of items while moving.
But within the past couple of decades, the notion of cardboard furniture has gone from artistic concept to a firm reality. For those in the middle of IKEA converts and let’s not say cheap, but thrifty, comes cardboard furniture that’s sustainable and durable: startup company Karton has burst onto the home and office design scene in the United States.
Karton was founded in 2010 as a collaboration in Melbourne, Australia by brothers Nadav and Gil Baker with Ralph Wollner. Wollner, a lawyer, had an interest in finding sustainability solutions that employed a good deal of ingenuity. This drive led him to the world of cardboard furniture and eventually to Strange Design, headed by Hans Peter-Strange who first began working with cardboard in 1985.
Karton’s durability estimations exceed what folks would tend to think of regarding cardboard: each piece in their collections are built to last 10 years.Wollner took inspiration from Strange’s work and went back to Melbourne and planted seeds for more people to take an interest in cardboard furniture as a better option for the home and for office settings.
Fast forward to 2010 and Nadav and Gil. Both had begun to work on a startup that focused on producing bicycles specifically for use in urban areas that wouldn’t have a heavy impact on the environment. They came across Karton in its early stages and were intrigued enough to purchase Karton furniture for their own office space and soon after, joined forces with Wollner and Karton.
Innovation imbues every aspect of Karton’s furniture — the corrugated cardboard itself “is made from a mix of virgin and recycled paper,” which is detailed as a mix that provides the high sturdiness and shows the company’s commitment to sustainability each piece has.
As a result, the glues that are used are made from vegetable starch and are nontoxic. This combination leads to pieces that are proclaimed to be 100-percent recyclable. Their durability estimations exceed what folks would tend to think of regarding cardboard: each piece in their collections are built to last 10 years. For example, their standard bed frame is constructed to hold up to two tons and can be adjusted to different widths. You can even paint each Karton piece, if the paints are polyurethane- and water-based.
The furniture that Karton offers also provides advantages in terms of moving — each piece comes in a flat pack format and is designed to be assembled in minutes, with no tools needed. Another appealing point is the cost, which comes in at a fraction of what one would get for comparable pieces from other furniture manufacturers such as IKEA, and that’s already quite affordable.
The company recently opened their first U.S. showroom in Brooklyn, N.Y. No word on whether the company will expand to other cities, but having this option in the States give new homebuyers a chance for affordable new furniture that’s as functional as it is quirky and stylish. For those who have purchased a new-construction home, this time it’s okay to look inside the box for furniture inspiration.
Christopher Smith is a freelance writer when he’s not sampling the best cuisine in his hometown of New York City. Prior to that, he worked in film and television post-production, and counts the honor of working with Eartha Kitt among his milestones.