The Revival of the Cardboard Chair

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The cardboard chairs we assembled

A snapshot of our handiwork. Each chair took 10 minutes or less to assemble. Photo: Jennifer Berry, Earth911.com

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a cardboard chair that is both comfortable and sturdy!

If you’re a devoted Earth911.com reader, doubtless you’ve seen our snarky remarks about our own cardboard chair misadventures last year. But incredibly, our faith in this fantastic and recyclable material-cum-furniture has been restored.

A while back, Earth911 met up with Bay Cities, an employee-owned, turnkey packaging firm that handles everything from concept to manufacturing. After seeing the cool furniture in their tradeshow booth (details below), Bay Cities was kind enough to send us two of their fantastic cardboard chairs to try out.

This writer (recipient of said chairs) must admit her initial response was one of hesitation. But once this writer’s boss (sick of seeing two large boxes lying around for over a month) came in and demanded they be put together, hesitation turned to excitement. The chairs were fun and easy to assemble, and surprisingly supportive. Huzzah!

We chatted with Sahar Mehrabzadeh, director of marketing and sustainable development for Bay Cities, to learn a bit more about their eco-furniture and other initiatives.

Bay Cities’ green cred

One of the coolest aspects about Bay Cities is their Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification. “For every one tree we utilize through our mill, six others are planted,” according to Mehrabzadeh, and all of their trees come from sustainably managed forests.

Their SFI certification is necessary, as Bay Cities has seen a “huge increase in demand” for greener packaging recently. “I see sustainability as the future. It’s here now, it’s live, it’s growing,” Mehrabzadeh said. “I think two years ago we were early for [sustainability as a mainstream concept], and now people are living it and looking for vendors.”

“Why I really believe in this chair is that this is the time, right now,” she continued. “People used to think that sustainability was going to come and go, but we embraced it, and we took it into the everyday practices into how we run our business,” she added.

How the chair came about

“We’re designers before anything else,” Mehrabzadeh said. New corrugated designs come out of their offices regularly and are sent over to marketing for uses such as company swag or a potential product for a client. In their own offices, conference tables, chairs and footstools all made of corrugated cardboard adorn work spaces. “It was just something fun internally, and now people love it,” she added.

“Although we have office furniture, we really started building [the chairs] for trade shows,” she said. “We do booths all made out of corrugated, and we recycle them at the end.”

Should we make our own chairs (again)?

“Let us do it!” said Mehrabzadeh, laughing. Her two main tips are to keep your designs simple and test them thoroughly ahead of time.

If you don’t want to make your own chairs, Bay Cities is currently working out the logistics for selling them direct, and they aim to make the chairs available for public purchase by the end of this year. However, you can e-mail info[at]bay-cities.com to order ahead of time or ask any additional questions.

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