October 30, 2007

Sac State students are sitting pretty with corrugated cardboard

Design student Sergio Mondragon goes organic with his pine-cone inspired chair. Design student Sergio Mondragon goes organic with his pine-cone inspired chair.

Asking student designers to create and build a chair doesn’t seem like a particularly difficult project, until you realize the chair will be made of cardboard.

That’s the challenge facing the 75 students in Interior Design 25—Design Fundamentals. They must draw, develop and then construct a functional chair from standard, corrugated cardboard.

Each student has to design two one-eighth scale models. Then the students are put in teams of three to choose one of the six models to build, or they may combine elements from the models to create a new design.

After examining the new model’s ergonomics and possible construction, the team will build a full-size version.

The students can use some other materials, such as wood dowels, copper tubing or tacks on the project, but only minimally, says Design professor Andrew Anker. “It’s a cardboard chair, and you can only use these other materials to fasten the cardboard together,” he says.

They also can’t paint or otherwise color the cardboard, but Anker and instructors Carolyn Gibbs, Michelle Duff, David deLaPena and Sarah Ellis do expect the students to get creative with the materials at hand.

If they’re using tacks to hold it all together, the tacks can be arranged in a decorative pattern. Or a layer of cardboard on the back of the chair could have star patterns cut into it to create a decoration, Anker says.

Some students have taken rather creative turns with their initial models.

“I tried to build the most basic chair,” Ilona Ormanzhi says, but adds she was intrigued by the pattern of the corrugation while building the model. So she exposed the wavy interior layer and attached it around the edge of the chair’s back for a decorative effect.

Sergio Mondragon wanted something textured, so he cut the cardboard into thin strips, then stacked and layered them in a repeating pattern. The model chair resembles a pine cone, giving it an organic feel, Mondragon says.

When completed, the chairs will be on exhibit in the Design Gallery, Mariposa Hall 4000, Nov. 7-19 with an opening day reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Gallery hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday.

For more information on the cardboard chair project, call the Design Department at (916) 278-3962 or visit www.csus.edu/design. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.