Industrial and Graphic Design students turn cardboard into chairs in Designing Green competition

By Katherine Harding, Office of Communications and Marketing



While most people might toss cardboard into the recycling bin, or even discard it as trash, students from Auburn University's Department of Industrial and Graphic Design turn trash into treasure.

Designing Green, the department's annual sustainable design competition sponsored by the student chapter of the Industrial Designers Society of America, took place Feb. 28-March 1 at Wallace Hall. In this year's competition, 21 student teams collaborated in the creation of chairs made from cardboard.

The project was inspired by San Francisco-based designer Dan Goldstein's Re-Ply chair, made of recycled cardboard and steel. The contest's design prompts included making shipping the chair more cost-effective, as well as a better overall use of the recycled material and the option to upholster the chair.

Goldstein's Re-Ply Chair is a reclining chair made from layers of cardboard with a recycled steel frame. Not only is the chair made entirely from recyclable materials, the chair itself is entirely recyclable.

Jerrod Windham, assistant professor of industrial design and coordinator of the Designing Green event, said the competition, now in its 11th year, began as a "Sitting Green" competition. Windham said the event has come full-circle and has returned to its roots of designing chairs made of sustainable material.

Goldstein, a designer and adjunct professor in San Francisco-area area universities, financed the Re-Ply Chair on, a crowd-sourcing website. The project received enough sponsorships from potential consumers to fund production.

Windham said it is encouraging to see cardboard chairs in the marketplace. The popularity of sustainable goods has grown in recent years and will only continue.

One of Goldstein's original goals in designing the chair was to prove that "sustainable goods do not have to be ugly." Goldstein said recycling can turn post-consumer products into attractive and functional household items.

The students, after an intense 24-hour period, were judged in five categories. Winners were selected for the best base design, overall aesthetics, upholstery, best model and the overall sustainability award.

Third-year student Lee Cooper, along with teammates Sarah Caudle, Joshua Hanson, Piao Hailong and Andrew Rentz, won the overall sustainability award. Their design incorporated bamboo, a fast-growing material known to be sustainable, and focused on the design prompt to make shipping the chair easier.
Cooper said the competition is one of the ways students learn about being competitive in a marketplace increasingly focused on "designing green." Not only is Auburn University dedicated to sustainability, but many companies also are making an effort to be better for the environment.

Last Updated: Mar. 29, 2013

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