By Nick Lavars
It's generally only when its time to pack up and move house that the typical homeowner encounters large quantities of cardboard. In bicycle helmetsand vacuum cleaners, however, we have seen some innovative applicationsfor the material beyond its use as lightweight and durable packaging. Karton, a cardboard furniture company offering everything from beds to room dividers, takes a similar approach, yet aims to go beyond the novel and make its paper constructions a charming and practical part of your living solution.
While using recycled cardboard for the kinds of products mentioned above can be innovative and somewhat inspiring, to make them viable on a commercial scale is another matter. This is something Ralph Wollner, Director of the Karton Group, says distinguishes his company from other like-minded vendors of cardboard creations out there.
"There's a number of designers out there who produce one-off pieces," Wollner told Gizmag, "but for small production teams, it is difficult to create products that aren't expensive and still of high-quality."
With offices in Melbourne, Australia, Karton is an online-only store which keeps costs low by sourcing products by designers from all corners of the globe.
"We represent Stange Design, a German company who has been designing and producing cardboard furniture for 30 years," says Wollner. "Sourcing our furniture from here, along with firms in the Netherlands, New Zealand and the Middle East allows us to make our prices realistic."
Wollner's perception of "realistic" appears in step with that of his customers, with the company recently selling its 1,000th "Paperpedic Bed." Measuring 203 cm (79 in) in length and 30 cm (12 in) high, the bed is made from 100 percent recyclable cardboard and, according to the company, can be assembled within minutes.
"I think its attractive because it is versatile, different and challenges tradition," says Wollner of his number one seller.
Each piece of furniture is delivered as a flat-packed paper stack and can be put together without any tools or glue. In addition to the Paperpedic Bed, Karton's range include chests of drawers, TV units, room partitions and even cardboard animals that can be decorated and painted.
Though already boasting an extensive range, Wollner says Karton won't be resting on its laurels, with ideas to expand its offering already in the pipeline.
"In April, we'll be introducing 3D paper wall tiles which can be decorated and customized to create a feature wall," says Wollner. "In May, we'll be bringing in a system for hanging clothes and looking at other wardrobe solutions. We're always exploring possibilities for new products and new ideas."
You can get an idea of the Paperpedic Bed's strength in the video below.