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By Cailyn Cox
From chairs to lampshades, tables to bookcases, there is quite a large range of cardboard furniture to be found today, and no wonder: the material is relatively plentiful and cheap, easy to work with and, most importantly, it’s environmentally friendly as long as it’s made from recycled material.
In fact, designers have recognised the benefits of cardboard for quite some time now: in 1972, Frank Gehry’s “Easy Edges” range made history, with his “Wiggle Chair” being one of the more memorable designs of the time, and it still retains its chicness today.
There are a variety of ways designers can mould cardboard into its desired shape. Bending, cutting and liquidising to form a pulp base are just some of the ways to obtain a desired shape, as Emilie Mazeau-Langlais well knows.
“I saw this beaten up piece of cardboard lying in the street and thought, ‘I could use that in my workshop’,” said Mazeau-Langlais in a Financial Times interview. Since that ‘eureka’ moment, the she experimented with various techniques and finally developed an ability to manipulate cardboard into taking on an antiquated look. Her stunning take on a classic Louis XV commode has such an authentic ring to it, and it actually comes as quite a surprise once you discover it’s actually made of cardboard. Its beeswax coating adds to both its allure and longevity: an old-fashioned varnish-like finish is attained and moisture is repelled well.
The French designer has done what many dream and strive to do in today’s throwaway world dominated by cheap materials and fixtures – reuse and upcycle rubbish into something even higher than its original purpose into something appealing not purely because of its raw aesthetic appeal, but also because of its ingenuity.
She won first prize for her efforts at the Departemental des Metiers d’Art fair in 2009 for her piece, but she didn’t stop her designs with the Louis XV commode: her other works include an S-shaped sofa-style seat, modular bookcase and different style commodes, all made from cardboard, of course.