Minimalist Cardboard Stool

From the start of this project I knew I wanted to make something out of cardboard. I had wanted to make a piece of cardboard furniture ever since I saw photos of cardboard chairs a few years ago, and this project was the perfect time to do it. Additionally, there was a ton of excess cardboard at my house from lots of shipping boxes.

Furniture, like those above, gave me some inspiration for where I wanted to go with the project, but I still needed to decide on what exactly I wanted to make. I started thinking about what I needed in my room  and narrowed it down to either a bookshelf, bedside table, or a chair of some sort. I was somewhat torn between making a bookshelf or something that would be more load-bearing since load-bearing cardboard structures have always seemed cool to me. As for the aesthetic of the project, I decided to go with a minimalist look from early on due to my fondness for simple yet functional design.

I drew up designs for bookshelves and realized by doing this that I actually wanted to make a stool. So I looked up minimalist stools and I liked the look of this:

I set my goal as a combination of a stool and bookshelf, then set out making a prototype.

The prototype turned out well, so I decided to upscale the design for the life size stool. I began construction by using adhesive to glue together big pieces of cardboard into 4-layer laminate sheets, which I pressed with weights. Then, based off of the prototype I began cutting out shapes for the stool. I quickly realized when I started making the larger version that in order to have bookshelves on the side it would be too large of a stool and not quite as functional as I would have liked. I decided to focus on just making a stool and then having a small shelf in the side to hold a book, phone or any other small item.

I made a huge mess, used a ton of razor blades, and made this:

I put vertical stabilizers inside and filled it with spray foam to make it more sturdy, then glued a seat on top.

The design process had a few iterations in the beginning, however, it was mainly just narrowing down my ideas and then going for it. Functionally, the stool turned out exactly how I hoped, aside from not being able to hold as many books as I first expected. As for fitting the minimalist aesthetic I had in mind, I think the simplicity of the stools design fits what I had in mind. I plan to keep the stool in my room and use it as a TV stand. Someday I would like to make another version using folding methods compared to cutting only.

Previous Post
Presentation LED Spiders and firefly
Next Post
Colorful Glass Shard Pot

46 Comments. Leave new

Nice! I like the use of foam to help bear the load. I’m impressed with how sturdy it came out. Would you consider painting it or anything to try to make it fit more with a certain aesthetic in a house?

Reply
Christopher Coffman
February 8, 2016 9:20 pm

Awesome how this is able to hold your weight! Must have had great structural design.

Reply

This looks cool, I’m amazed how strong it is! Consider painting it like a Piet Mondrian. Then give it a water proof varnish.

Reply
Ashley Zimmerer
February 8, 2016 1:12 pm

Great job building the structure, it’s impressive that you can actually sit on it! Maybe you could laser cut the cardboard next time, and hide the edges some how so it looks more finished. Your process was cool, too. I like how you filled it with foam to add more support. It would be cool if you put a little marble statue in the slot, like a little Greek god or something. That could make it look like a pedestal.

Reply
David Holliman
February 8, 2016 9:22 am

Great use of recycled materials. This idea has a lot of potential outside the minimalist realm. I like the dual functionality with the cupboard space.

Reply
Brendan Warren
February 7, 2016 11:34 pm

Great use of foam core. Similar idea to how modern boats are made to be light and strong. Did you consider putting a finishing layer of cardboard around it or painting it black in order to conceal some of the rougher edges?

Reply
Chip Bollendonk
February 7, 2016 10:49 pm

Kenzy, here are my more in-depth comments on this project:

This turned out much better than I was expecting after you described your plan mid-way through — in particular, I’m impressed by how rigid you made it, and also how much it does follow the minimalist stool aesthetic (as illustrated in one of the pictures in this report). I think that another coat of paint, and maybe a cushion, would really seal the deal on this project.

You said that you were surprised by how much it smelled (of glue) and that you were struggling with paint. I’d suggest going over the whole thing with a heavy primer, and letting it dry for 2-3 days before hitting it with a couple of coats of paint. While white looks nice (and certainly minimal), I think another color would disguise the fact that it is cardboard a bit more, which might be a nice touch if you do intend to keep the stool around. I’d probably choose a bright red or green.

As Prof. Hertzberg mentioned in class, your shelf is a really interesting size and I think you should look into the size of beverage containers that may fit in there. Would be a perfect beer shelf.

Nice work!

Reply

I love cardboard furniture! It looks for strong and has clean lines. My one comment would be maybe to add some type of color or decor to the outside out the stool to make it more of a specific aesthetic.

Reply
Shawn Sprinkle
February 6, 2016 6:42 pm

It’s cool how sturdy cardboard can be! Have you considered putting a cushion on it? I bet you can get a cheap one at Goodwill

Reply
Nicholas Flood
February 6, 2016 4:14 pm

Good use of foam to make the stool more stable. The book slot seems like a strange addition for a stool to me. Good job!

Reply

Crazy how sturdy cardboard can be. I think you’ve created an heirloom. The tall-can nook could house a little buddha… statue.

Reply
Jacob Mccormick
February 5, 2016 12:40 pm

Nice work! I heard that cardboard could support that much weight but it’s better to see it in person.

Reply
Meridith Richter
February 5, 2016 12:38 pm

I think a color on it would look really nice, but it is an impressive feat to build something that strong out of cardboard. Great job!

Reply

I think you have truly captured a minimal design. It’s nice to see that your project turned out to be more structural that it appears. Are the cutouts big enough for a book? Have you also thought about painting/decorating the stool? It might add more interest to the design than just a plain white look.

Reply

The card boards you have looks clean! Structurally rigid! Simple, maybe add colors to it. Great idea for the cross stabilizer.

Reply

The stool is really neat. I too have tons of cardboard lying around my house for personal projects. Have you thought about painting the top one color and the bottom another color? That way you can tell the difference between top and bottom.

Reply

I love how this came out. I like the idea of the little shelf as a cup holder. It reminds me of cup holders in ski boats.

Reply

I would be interested to see if you could simulate wood or metal using paint. It would be possible to change the aesthetic depending on the decor

Reply

Very robust design! Consider a sculptural object for the nook.

Reply
Chip Bollendonk
February 5, 2016 12:21 pm

I’m surprised at how rigid you managed to make this, with the small amount of crossbars inside. Nice call using the structural foam. I would recommend spraying it with a waterproofing spray (once the paint drys) so if you spill something you won’t have any issues.

Reply
Thomas Brunsgaard
February 5, 2016 12:20 pm

I am very impressed that it can take so much load before crushing. I always figured that cardboard furniture was more of a novelty things than for actual use. I am envisioning how cool it would be to have a room that has all of the furniture made out of cardboard. That hole was definitely meant to hold an xbox. Nice work with the prototype!

Reply
Joseph Yoshimura
February 5, 2016 12:20 pm

I think it’s amazing how structurally sound you made it. Being able to hold up the weight of a typical person without having any difficulty is a pretty impressive feat for making something out of cardboard.

Reply

I think that this is a cool idea. It is definitely very minimalist. However, I think that it could use a better finish, maybe some paint or some cool design.

Reply
Sreyas Krishnan
February 5, 2016 12:19 pm

Looks really robust – did you consider painting it? With a bit of touching up, this would be a legitimately marketable piece of furniture.

Reply

The stool has a nice modern look to it! Im curious to how/why you have 4 ply cardboard laying around?

Reply
Andre Szlendak
February 5, 2016 12:18 pm

sometimes working with cardboard can give an unfinished look but this looks very professional. Adding some color would go a long way, make it kind of fun. Was there any reason for the layup of where the cardboard went.

Reply

Although I understand painting it white aesthetically, it’s not like you can easily hide that it’s a cardboard stool- why not just embrace it and leave it a neutral cardboard color?

Reply

Interesting project! It’s surprisingly sturdy but the design is very flat. I think you could have implemented more design elements to whatever aesthetic you were looking to do. At the moment it’s unclear.

Reply
Ryan Yankowsky
February 5, 2016 12:18 pm

Surprised at the strength of the finished project, like the minimalist take, for a second go maybe select pieces that are not creased for a cleaner look, or line up the creases to unify the design.

Reply
Peter Brunsgaard
February 5, 2016 12:18 pm

I’ve always been intrigued by cardboard furniture. Have you considered painting it?

Reply

Impressed with the strength you achieved out of just cardboard. Have you considered adding any elements to make it easier on the eyes such as paint, or might that compromise strength?

Reply
Brittany Warly
February 5, 2016 12:17 pm

I like how it turned out and that it works as a stool and bookcase/phone holder. I like the slot you included and nice job on making it as strong as it is.

Reply
Jakob Oreskovich
February 5, 2016 12:17 pm

Super impressive how robust it appears to be! Can you fit a beer in the inset? Would love to see some pictures from the inside construction.

Reply

Its inspiring to think that it is so feasible to create my own furniture — especially like your example of a TV stand to avoid the cost of something from a retail store.

Reply

Interesting idea and use of cardboard. It sounds like it is really sturdy as well. I might add some design and color to the stool to add some visual interest.

Reply

Awesome project and idea. Love how sturdy it is how you added multiple functions to its use.

Reply
Rachel Grosskrueger
February 5, 2016 12:17 pm

I really like how you actually made cardboard furniture that is extremely sturdy and well made! Do you plan on adding designs or additional colors to it?

Reply
Gardner Nichols
February 5, 2016 12:17 pm

I like the idea a lot and it’s really cool that is supports your weight! It looks like something you could sell as a kit. Maybe something you’d see at the MOMA gift shop! I think it would look even better if you kept the bare cardboard however to really capture an industrial chic aesthetic.

Reply

I love the interlocking teeth features, it almost melds woodworking into a cardboard project.

Reply
Anfal Abdulrahman
February 5, 2016 12:17 pm

I am very impressed how stable it is! It looks nice, too.

Nice work.

Reply
Elizabeth Whitman
February 5, 2016 12:16 pm

I like that you added places to hold books etc. Seems like it is very well made. Maybe you could paint it or something to give it a more character.

Reply

This looks nice. I am impressed by how sturdy you made it. That looks like a useful project. I would have like to see it colored according to an aesthetic.

Reply
Samantha Maierhofer
February 5, 2016 12:16 pm

I like the attention to detail you put into the structure of the project. It looks pretty sturdy, especially for the height of the piece. Cool idea on using the foam. Was that something you saw online or a revision you had to figure out how to make.

Reply

I like that the sides have handles to grab it and move it easily. Looking at the inspirations you posted, did you ever think of attaching the sides in a way that didn’t require glue? I like that it can hold so much weight. It is really impressive!

Reply

Creative idea! This looks like a great way to get rid of extra cardboard around the house. It’d be great if you could decorate it some more, give it an aesthetic, in the future.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

Menu