From the minute I saw the Paperpedic Bed in the Karton Group’s range of designer cardboard furniture I knew it was something I wanted to try.
My daughter had finally outgrown her delightful daybed and it was time to graduate to something else, but what?
I wanted to stay away from anything synthetic, coated with solvent based paints, or made from any kind of composite timber that might emit formaldehyde. As an added requirement I didn’t want something that I would be stuck with later when we no longer have a use for it, or that would end up worn out, broken and in land fill. It also had to be affordable, look funky and something an imaginative 9 year old would like to sleep on.
The Paperpedic ticked all the boxes and some others we hadn’t even thought of. The board is made from a mix of virgin and recycled paper, any glues used in the Karton products are non-toxic and made from vegetable starch and all products are 100% recyclable. Caught up in the excitement of cardboard furniture I jumped online and made my order.
Within days a very long cardboard box arrived by courier jam packed with, well, more cardboard.
It looked intriguing and fantastically simple and I couldn’t wait to get started. I knew I would master the construction with ease given my ability with basic origami, and the instruction video on the website clearly showed how straightforward it would be.
And it was straightforward. The cleverly engineered design fit so smartly together that things moved along smoothly, folding and connecting so that flat pieces of quite ordinary cardboard quickly transformed into actual shapes. My daughter was chuffed that she could help out with the construction and before long we had assembled the drawers and bed supports and it was time to slot in the top.
That’s when things began to get tricky.
The long sections that form the structurally sound bed base top needed to be folded along their long length not once, but twice and then wedged into slots in the bed base. This cardboard is particularly sturdy and at first try almost impossible to fold. I struggled pushing and pulling, wrestling and fighting with the cardboard until I got a start on the long fold. Once one side was completed I began on the other, and thanked my lucky stars that I was constructing a single bed and had four less sections to fold than a king size construction.
I slotted the long length into the slots in the base. Then I started my workout with the next section and struggled as I tried to wedge it in next to the first, annoyed at my efforts when the ends didn’t quite line up and exasperated as I tried to remove this to section to position again.
It was time to sit back, take a breath and consider the situation. I still had several sections to go and was quite overwhelmed by the sheer effort involved in this part of the process. It occurred to me that cardboard furniture construction was a little like making origami. Not that I am actually good at origami, but it seems to me that in origami the idea is to relax, meditate on the process and feel the direction of the paper. In fact the more you struggle the less successful you will be. All of a sudden I understood that I had to take a minute to ‘be like cardboard’, to work with the cardboard and not against it.
With a renewed approach I was ready to start again and this time I found ways to lean into the board and achieve the folds not exactly with ease, but with steady success. The bed base was complete and looked perfect. To celebrate my daughter jumped on top and tried out her tap routine.
The futon, sheets and blankets were assembled and that night the real test began. In the morning my daughter reported the best night’s sleep she had ever had!
THE VERDICT: Impressive. Looks fantastic and does the job more than well, however if this is your first attempt at cardboard furniture construction make sure you allow at least double the amount of time than what you think you need … and if all else fails take a minute to sit back, have a cup of tea, and ‘think like cardboard’.