Cardboard Chairs The ULTIMATE design challenge


Create a chair that can hold the weight of an adult using only cardboard. No glue. No tape. Just cardboard.

The chair must support a pre-determined weight for at least 30 minutes. The person seated will be in a “comfortable” position with his / her back leaning against the back of the chair. This will provide an opportunity to learn about paper and cardboard as a building material and the dynamics of structures. This design challenge is intended to encourage and reward excellence in design that integrates function (does the chair work); AESTHETICS (is it pleasing to the eye); ergonomics (is it comfortable for the average person); details (are my drawings and actual construction accurate); and fun.


  • Design and build an aesthetically pleasing and original chair built entirely of cardboard using no glue or adhesives of any kind
  • Chair must be at least 17” off the ground
  • Chair must have a backrest (aka- no benches or stools)
  • Chair must successfully hold the weight of an adult – approx 120lbs.
  • Chair must serve a specific purpose, one beyond a place to rest your body. Be innovative. Think of the French Flanerie did artists use their work make people see a new perspective. Can your chair make people think or act differently? You will need to consider the purpose to decide the form; "FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION."


  • Design an aesthetically pleasing chair demonstrating mastery of the Design Principles/Elements and the concept of Form Follows Function
  • Design a comfortable chair for a specific user demonstrating mastery of ergonomics
  • Design a successful support structure demonstrating mastery of physics and engineering skills
  • Understand the significance of industrial design
  • Use the Design Process:
  1. Define the problem
  2. Research
  3. Brainstorm
  4. Test and evaluate
  5. Build
  6. Re-evaluate



Before jumping in your group will take time to research possibilities. Learn from others successes and failures. Lookk for design and building information.

There is a LOT of information on this process. SEARCH, the internet, YouTube. Collect ideas. Share and Discuss with your group.

TURN IN #1: Each person in your group find 3 resources to share with your group. EACH person post your links in Classroom. This could be a building method, form, etc. Share and discuss.

TURN IN #2: Working as a group, Complete and post in Classroom, the Chair Example PDF. We will discuss these as a class.

You will find this on iTunesU

Plan and Sketch:

No boring designs.

Start the brainstorming process of creating a UNIQUE chair with cardboard. You will need to do sketches showing different views.

1. Design sketches – prepare sketches of some possible design ideas of a chair of your own design.

2. Drawings – prepare working drawings with dimensions, from your design sketches that will allow you to construct a model from the plans you prepare.

TURN IN #3: Your group will need to submit detailed drawings of the project. Submit ALL (and you should have a variety) design sketches and at least one set of working drawings with dimensions.

Saftey Review:

Understand the proper use of the materials

Systems and Structure:

Create three methods for attaching cardboard without glue. Research and Test.


Create a scale model of the chair. This will be made out of scrap cardboard and be 1/4 scale.

Turn in #4: Photograph your model and post in classroom. Include a paragraph bout challenges and successes and necessary revisions.


What worked what didn't? How could you improve the design and aesthetic?

Turn In #5: Reflect on your model. What are your successes and challenges. What needs to be fixed before moving on? Write or Record and post in Classroom.


There is a saying among carpenters/craftspeople..."measure twice, cut once." What does that mean? You will not get more than the alloted material. If you make a mistake you MUST go back to the starting line and recreate with the remains. Take you time. Layout all your pieces BEFORE cutting any. FOLLOW your plans.


Create the full size chair that supports the weight of a person. Someone in your group will reamin in your chair for 30 minutes.


Document the process of creating the chair in a video or slideshow.

This will require keeping a Learning Log from the start. Each days work should be entered in the Log. Take picture and write notes, there will be time for reflect at the end of each class. How will you do this? Notes, Google Doc, Spark Page, KeyNote? Choose and app that will work for your group. I would suggest something where you can all collaborate.


Created with images by stoic - "£450 cardboard chair...woo" • makelessnoise - "Chair Scale Model" • - "Cardboard chair" • Foundation/Duane Elverum/2011 - "cardboard chair 058" • Cheeseboo - "IMG_9715" • Foundation/Duane Elverum/2011 - "cardboard chair 034"

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