Cardboard chair

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Manfred kielnhofer contemporary art design paper tube chair


Design a cardboard chair

  1. Problem-finding - What is it? Why is it important?
  2. Watch the video - author of The Way Things Work, David Maccauley talks about sketching for designing in this video
  3. Design your chair by sketching your ideas and thinking about the problems of creating a chair from cardboard.
  4. When you have a pretty good chair design, create a model of your chair from the piece of folder and tape.
  5. Test that your design works the way you designed it to - the model stands, holds weight, could actually be made from the materials provided, ...


Problem-finding - exploring with interest, playing and wondering, and capturing questions.

Understanding by Sketching (video 3:56) - David Macauley - The Way Things Work - Macauley talks about sketching for designing in this video


Model chairs

What's the problem?
Design a chair to support your weight using cardboard, string or yarn, glue, and duct tape. The seat of the chair should be a minimum of 300mm from the ground. The chair should be comfortable and your design should be creative.

Supplies: prototyping supplies (paper or poster board or manila folders and tape).

  • Ask - A chair is really just a small-scale structure. Like a building or bridge your chair must safely support loads, be economical, and be aesthetically pleasing. How can you build a chair out of cardboard? What will make your chair comfortable? What are some fun chair designs that you’ve seen? Measure chairs in your home and search for images online.
Chair Mockup in cardboard
  • Imagine - Come up with LOTS of ideas. It is okay to look at existing chairs but remember that one of your goals is to come up with a creative design.


  • Design, Build - Select Alternatives. Be sure to select alternatives that meet your design goals: safety, comfort, and creativity. Then Design and Prototype: Sketch and build small-scale prototypes to start before building full-scale chairs. Use manila folders or poster board to build small-scale prototypes of your design ideas.


  • Improve - The more time you spend experimenting and building the more successful you’ll be with your final chair design.


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