The Nostalgic Evolution of the Uses of Cardboard

August 29th, 2013

How odd is it that cardboard has been and continues to be a very large part of our lives?  From the cradle at our birth to the burial plot at our death, there isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t put our hands (in some fashion) on cardboard.

It starts very young, with what we now call “board-books.”  These are books designed for infants and toddlers constructed out of cardboard coated with a substance strong enough to make them impervious to a number of fluids, bodily and otherwise, as well as being bitten, tossed and rolled over repeatedly.

Next came the box.  Actually, it should be called, THE BOX.  All kids love THE BOX.  They can’t resist it and if you let them, they would move in and live there until it was time to leave for college.  It should be noted that cats too love THE BOX.  I once lost my cat for a day and a half during a move when she got herself packed into a large wardrobe box and carted onto the truck.  True story.

Then of course comes the crafty use of cardboard tubes.  All parents of the last 50 years have been tasked with the collection of the toilet paper and paper towel rolls in order to create home-hewed flutes or bird feeders or paper flower vases.  So lovely and useful!

Next in the evolutionary hit parade is the always-popular shoebox diorama.  Who among us did not have to salvage a spare shoebox and create a stunningly insightful recreation of a scene from “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Old Yeller?”

As we age, our cardboard becomes less prized for itself and more for what it contains.  Who doesn’t love to receive cardboard in the mail?  The cardboard box is the herald of presents or items ordered online or free samples of dish detergent.

Now of course, we recycle all of our cardboard, breaking it down and creating a neat stack so that it can be turned into future play swords and a home to our favorite pair of Manolo Blahniks.  In keeping with the “green” movement, there are caskets made of cardboard – the ultimate recycle.  Cardboard is so much a part of our everyday lives; it would be truly difficult to imagine doing without it! Where in the world would the cat hide!?

Cardboard Makes the Front Page of PSFK!

January 24th, 2011

As part of PSFK’s This Week in Design review, highlighting the latest standout design stories, was this Plytube Stool by South Korean designer Seongyong Lee, orginally posted on designboom. Plytube Stool was on display at this past weekend’s imm cologne, as part of their d3 design talents installation for up-and-coming designers.

Take the Cardboard House Challenge!

September 29th, 2010

Can you really furnish your entire house with cardboard? You most certainly can!

As the current green trend continues strong, people will keep coming up with new and interesting ways to help out the environment. One of the hottest materials, undergoing a makeover from trash to treasure, is cardboard. People are discovering what a useful and versatile material it is, and that furnishing your home with it is not as ridiculous as it may seem. Don’t take my word for it- check out the designers and their products below!

Your cardboard furnishings will sit well in your Corrugated Fiberboard House. Three students of Auburn University’s Rural Studio created this pod in 2001, to test the applications as building material of wax-infused corrugated clippings. Because the wax content prevents recycling, thousands of tons of this material is consigned to landfills each week (as opposed to the ease with which non-waxed cardboard can be recycled). This structure is still standing today and has stayed well-protected.

Reinhard Dienes is a German designer who offers some the more subtle sustainable designs available. Dienes cardboard bookcase comes in a variety of colors, and is available horizontally or vertically. This bookshelf is 100% recyclable and can sustain the weight of any number of objects placed on its shelves.

Leo Kempf is a furniture designer operating in the US, specializing in recycled materials, including cardboard. Inspired by Frank Gehry’s Wiggle Chair, Kempf’s products combine sustainability with clever design. His Speech-Bubble Coffee Table and Curve Gravity Powered Wall Shelf would be the talking point of any living room.

Considering that we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping, the bedroom is to be spared no expense. The Swiss designed ‘Itbed’ is a stylish option, made from less than an inch thick cardboard, that is then sleekly folded in a zigzag accordion pattern, and sits low to the ground. It is also easily portable, making it an ideal choice for overnight guests or for frequent movers. Why not dress it up with this Cardboard Box comforter cover and pillowcases?

Rhode Island School of Design graduate Ian Gonsher designed a table from a single cardboard box. The simplicity of the materials needed allows for it to be scaled to fit any cardboard box you might come across, creating larger and smaller tables depending upon the size of the box.

Looking for inspiration for making your own cardboard chair? Designboom is an online publication of centered around the growing art of design. On the above page are some of the notable entries in a contest they hosted in search of a quality folding chair made out of cardboard.

Lazerian design studio is the brainchild of Liam Hopkins, an English “designer-maker”. His cardboard furniture range, including the Bravais Armchair and Radiolarian Sofa, incorporate an eyecatching honeycomb design, which are as recyclable as they are remarkable.

A beautiful home is incomplete without some decorative touches. Japanese artist Yuken Teryua carves delicate and detailed scenes out of cardboard toilet paper rolls and paper bags. Inspired by nature, these pieces are really beautiful whether sitting on your shelf or mounted on a wall.

Anastassia Elias has also reinvented the toilet paper roll, recreating real life scenes on a tiny scale within the roll itself. Such works like “School”, “Market” and “Grandmother” show her painstaking attention to detail. Her work is given an added dimension, in that it can be viewed from either end of the roll, and gives it a fanciful element.

Top 10 Coolest Cardboard Products

September 29th, 2010

When you think of cardboard, what comes to mind? For most, an empty box, maybe a gift, maybe a pain in the rear to get rid of responsibly. Doubtful that a hanging lamp, high chair, or camera are anywhere near the images that arise. Yet these are exactly the kinds of items that can be made of cardboard. Durable, strong, striking, and even stylish, corrugated board is far more versatile than given credit for, and is one of the most upcyclable resources available. Check out some of the coolest cardboard products available today and see why this amazing material should be considered as a viable option for your next dining room set.

Frank Gehry, "Wiggle Chair", 1972

It All Started With One Wiggle
Cardboard furniture is especially cool, and cardboard is easy to manipulate into designs that seem outright space-age. In 1972, a man named Frank Gehry made history when he introduced the Wiggle Chair, one long stretch of thick corrugated board, layered and folded in on itself under the seat, to provide amazing stability and comfort perfectly harmonized with a bold statement.

What To Do With That Cardboard Blox?
Bloxes are a new modular system, made entirely of folded cardboard and designed for eternal expansion in any direction you choose. This origami architecture is strong enough to stand on its own, and assembles with absolutely no tools but your own two hands. Entire walls can be made of the Bloxes, as well as words, ladders, or just alcoves for plants and vases. Innovative, ingenious, and purely recyclable, the multi-faceted design lends lots of visual texture and interest to any room.

Diseño Cartonero
Santiago Monahan provides one off pieces that are entirely functional and aesthetically pleasing. His line called Diseño Cartonero, or “Carboard Collector Design”, is 100% recycled corrugated board that the artist buys from local garbage collectors at a price higher than they would receive at a recycling facility. He then bends the board to his will to produce unique magazine racks, crate chairs, and chandelier lamps that strike bold statements and upcycling awareness. Green furniture at its finest.

Did You Say Highchair?
Consider the flatpak highchair by Belkiz Feedaway for baby at dinnertime. Made from 100% recycled cardboard, this ingenious and prettily printed highchair really is durable enough to accommodate a baby, yet be space-efficient enough to fold away flat and store in a spare crevice if room gets tight. It is perfect for travel, absolutely safe, and a great way to introduce the concept of environmental stewardship to friends, family, and the next generation.

If It’s Good Enough for Baby, It’s Good Enough for Kitty
Warren Lieu invented a clever corrugated sculpture that is fascinating to behold. Shaped like half a honey-pot, this awesome cathouse is composed of laser-cut layers of cardboard adhered together with non-toxic glue. It also doubles as a convenient scratching post for your beloved feline. The Cat Cocoon is definitely a conversation piece as well as a great way to express your views on recycling for the environment.

Say Cheese!
While these cardboard cameras are not functional, they’re amazing displays of exact detail, fully rendered in upcycled corrugated board. Minute detail is incorporated into even centimeter of these stunning sculptures offered by artist Kiel Johnson, even including antique models and Polaroids. Every button, line and curve is faithfully represented in cardboard.

Tune In!
One half of the ‘Kosmos Project’ design studio, the Polish Ewa Bochen combined ordinary material with an everyday object, and created something sacred. Her crucifix-shaped cardboard radios, looking like an ashy wood with a metal antenna, serve as a commentary on contemporary loneliness, the power of the media and the need to belong.

Light the Way
Scrap lights are a really nifty hanging light by design studio Graypants, based in Seattle. Repurposed corrugated board has been carefully layered together in rings to create a unique lamplight that seems to glow in a mesmerizing way. Quite stately and an excellent choice for a bar or restaurant that wishes to promote environmental stewardship, these eye-catching lights are one of the coolest upcycled cardboard products with which to grace a room available today.

Reviving the Record
GGRP, a Vancouver-based sound house, developed an ingenious album packaging that transforms into a cardboard record player. A 45rpm player unfolds from a single piece of cardboard and voila, your record is ready to be heard. The vibrations travel through the needle and are naturally amplified through the cardboard material. This imaginative marketing campaign product recently won the Gold Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival.

Let the Fiesta Begin!
Based out of Buenos Aires, industrial and product designer Georgina Pizzabiocche’s colorful Banquito Cartoon cardboard stools would brighten up any fiesta. They may look like whimsical party decorations, but these stools are strong enough to support heavy weights without losing their shape, and sustainable to boot being 100% recyclable.

The Coolest Cardboard Artists You Don’t Know

September 28th, 2010

More than likely, when you think of art, cardboard doesn’t come into play. However it is increasingly entering the spotlight with innovative approaches, 3D sculpture, and wholly usable and functioning furniture applications that is often art in itself. 100% biodegradable, compostable, reusable and upcyclable, corrugated board is easily repurposed and lends itself to amazing shapeability and unlimited vision. Forget the artistic greats like Monet and Picasso that you learned about in school, and take a look at what’s being presented these days.

Chile- Beautiful Mountains, Excellent Wine and Don Lucho
Don Lucho of Santiago, Chile, presents an interesting study in 3D cardboard sculpture with his life-sized, real-world portrayal of happenings like car crashes and downed planes. Powerful and intriguing, a cardboard car almost halved by a terrible ‘crash’ into a light pole is a sobering reminder to every driver to slow down. Lucho has also created an apartment out of cardboard and a black marker. The kitchen is complete with cardboard utensils, while cardboard shoes lay apparently kicked off beside the cardboard bed and nightstand. A cardboard toilet has black marker water scribbled in its bowl, while cardboard mugs and placemats are set neatly on the –you guessed it – cardboard table.

She Made What Out of Cardboard?
Sylvie Reno is a repurposed cardboard artist who works in life scale, creating impressive replicas of banks vaults, gun cabinets, knife displays, escalators and even cigarette packs complete with lighter. Every piece looks absolutely lifelike, but without the color to completely confuse the viewer. Reno fashions full-sized cars, heavy machinery, pipes and plumbing, all out of the amazingly versatile cardboard medium.

If Frida Kahlo Were Alive, What Would She Think?
With an eye for dizzying amounts of detail, the whimsical corrugated board sculptures of Ana Serrano never fail to capture the attention and stoke the fire of childhood fantasy in all who look on her work. Employing mixed media, cardboard, acrylic paint, and printed paper, the first generation Mexican-American is inspired by cultural context, and features an interest in low socio-economic climes, beliefs, and fashion. Serrano’s Cartonlandia is a colorful paradise and a feast for the eyes.

Windmills, Tulips, Wooden Shoes and Now Cardboard Artists
Inspired by lacy coral, leafy trees, and quite possibly vegetables from the produce aisle of your grocery store, Ferry Staverman, a Dutch artist living in Apeldoorn, beautifies the world around him with the forced 3D sculptures he creates with repurposed cardboard and string. By repeating a design numerous times, he is able to upcycle (take an object or material, and repurpose it into something more valuable) the corrugated board, paint it in washes of color, and display it like a gorgeous marine aquarium. Many of the pieces look like crowns, the tops of Russian cathedrals, or delicate snow castles, and are reminiscent of the paper honeycomb sculptures mom puts on her table for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

From Clay to Cardboard
Ann Weber is a very cool cardboard artist who tends to work in strips, rather than whole pieces, of cardboard. The effect is a not unlike a woven basket, or a wicker look that is organic and warm. Ann has worked with cardboard for some time now, and boasts an impressive portfolio of very large pieces. Originally a clay artist, Ann prefers the lightweight cardboard to the awkward process of clay. Inspired by Frank Gehry who introduced the first cardboard Wiggle chair in 1972, Ann took to corrugated in 1991 and presents metaphorical conundrums and everyday life experiences with her sculpture, often pushing the size in an attempt to expand the piece larger and larger before it collapses, a commentary on balancing acts humanity struggle with each day.

Making Bronze Art from Cardboard
Though a metallic sculptor at heart, Paul Orzech has solidified his artistic merit by thinking outside of the box and incorporating cardboard into his creative process. Operating out of Arizona, Orzech spices things up by first creating the sculpture he wants out of cardboard strips glued or stapled together. He then coats them before firing them in an oven, incinerating the cardboard underneath the coating. So while no actual cardboard remains, it serves as the basic element for some beautiful works of art that are quite unique by using unconventional structures for bronze.

Carboard’s the Name of the Game
Born in the U.K. in 1967, Johnathan Ro-Schofield or ‘Jonny Cardboard’ has been working as a cardboard artist for 20 years. His style involves the extremely delicate and detailed rendition of highly realistic pieces of furniture. Almost all of the works have been stained in such a way so as to appear carved from wood. The furniture often incorporate classical architectural touches, such as ornate arches. Looking as if they belong in a distinguished baron’s office, it is truly unbelievable that they’re carved from cardboard. Ro-Schofield’s amazing ability has earned him unmatched recognition in the world of cardboard artistry. Between 1988 and 2002, he held 22 exhibitions and was specifically commissioned for pieces at least 33 times by such prestigious institutions as the Guggenheim Museum and Tiffany & Co.

Cardboard Grafitti
The Italian artist Peeta is perhaps the most expressionistic cardboard artist today. While using cardboard to recreate an everyday object certainly has an element of awe to it, Peeta chooses instead to sculpt masses of cardboard, PVC or any number of materials into tangled masses of soft curves and sharp angles. As different as these sculptures are, Peeta truly fears no material, even going so far as to sculpt pillows, starting with soft polyurethane and coating it with fabrics.

Junior Fritz Jacquet: On A Roll

September 28th, 2010

It was at the tender age of 14 years old that Junior Fritz Jacquet, a French native, first learned of his enduring love for origami art and its principles. It was an average day at school when his teacher instructed the students to build their own origami model. Jacquet connected immediately with the art form, understood its applications, and that they could be utilized far beyond a single piece of paper. Since that time, he has perfected his skills and techniques in a never-ending exploration of folding and crumpling paper to his will and design.

His methods produce objects of beauty in delicate paper, such as his flower lamps that appear so delicate as to be like snow, but he is best known for his innovative and expressions mastery over the common toilet paper roll. To begin, he focuses on the construction of the eyes, next the nose, then the mouth, and finally the end expression. His goal is to create jovial or funny expressions, though some seem to express defiance, sorrow, and even constipation. Believing there is no limit to his ability to experiment, he continues to hone his skills and improve his technique.

Jacquet feels that every type of paper –and he’s used them all- has a different personality, which lends itself to the final product and the emotion it expresses. It seems to have a life of its own and Junior simply helps bring that to the surface, as every mask is unique. He mounts these masks, 30 cm-40 cm in size, to a metal rod on a foot, before selling them in quantities of 5. Jacquet also has a little cardstock figurine called Bonhomme Canelle, a whimsical little personality of a man rendered in paper, Canelle easily expresses spontaneity, humor, delight, and creativity. There are 6 little sculptures of him, each as charming as the next, and highly kinetic. He seems frozen in each action and ready to stretch some more.

Monsieur Jacquet enjoys the paper medium a great deal, with its tactile responsiveness, and startling fragility. He finds, however, that elasticity, absorption of light, and texture all play into the outcome of the sculpted piece. Paper, he believes, has a memory to hold onto shaping or forget it of with gentle pressure. For Jacquet, paper is an immediate material, and does not require time to dry, or the need to be treated specially.

An upcycle artist, Junior is a staunch defender of the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, or, in this case, upcycling, which is where old items are given greater value, not less, in a process that converts waste materials into new materials of better quality or higher value, such as art and sculpture. Junior’s own models are swayed by the bronze forms of Swiss surrealist sculptor Alberto Giacometti, and influenced by the figures of Senegalese artist Ousmane Sow, who works in clay. Monsieur Jacquet finishes his clever masks with a veneer and some added color to enhance wrinkles and bring out individuality, leaving a finished sculpt that is both inspiring and smile-inducing, just as such whimsical little heads made out of toilet rolls should be.

Michael Leavitt: Creating Art Where Least Expected

September 28th, 2010

Not to be confused with the former governor of Utah, Michael Leavitt was born in 1977 in the Pacific Northwest. Growing up in this region has greatly influenced Leavitt’s artistic development, with a local culture that is very steeped in artistic expression, and social and environmental consciousness. Leavitt also found himself inspired by both Native American and Scandinavian cultures in the area, as well as the environmentalist parents that raised him. Growing up in that area and under those influences, it was impressed upon him to never let artistic conventions hinder his expression, which has certainly shown itself in the wildly different forms of art in which he has partaken.

M. Leavitt, "Chuck Taylor", 2009

Leavitt’s college experience was about as varied as his youth. In 1996 he began studying at the Pratt Institute in New York before moving on to the University of Washington in Seattle, spending a year at each before settling on the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. A progressive school, Evergreen encourages its students to design their own degree programs and Leavitt took full advantage of the opportunity, graduating in 2001 with his own unique Bachelor of Arts.

These formative years of his life led him to experiment in all kinds of art forms, cardboard art being just one. When it comes to cardboard, Leavitt has a particular interest in shoes, using paint and glue along with recycled cardboard to create actual-size models of some of America’s most famous footwear. Leavitt enjoys making these and does it as a form of satire, in the same vein as other cardboard artists. He sees shoes as one of the most interesting aspects of American culture. Everyone needs a pair, so on one hand they are just a simple necessity. But simultaneously, they operate as stylistic statements that can run upwards of a couple hundred dollars. By constructing exact replicas, at least superficially, Leavitt is setting down some interesting commentary on art, commercialism and where they meet in the middle.

M. Leavitt, "Air Jordan", 2009

When he isn’t making cardboard shoes though, Leavitt spreads his time among a plethora of other projects, perhaps the most well known being his Art Army. In continuing his genre-defying art, Leavitt has constructed numerous hand-made action figures of other artists. Some of the famous faces he has shrunken into miniature versions include Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

He also has a series entitled Penny Places that consists of pennies used as canvasses. On them, Leavitt paints the place in which the penny was found, with such titles as The G-Train to Brooklyn and 6th Ave at West 4th St.. He has also done work designing trading cards, wedding cake top pieces, and portable housing units used for several years as homeless shelters.

Leavitt was once quoted as saying he would be afraid not to try other mediums. For most artists, designing with cardboard would be off the map enough, but it fits right in with the rest of the work of Michael Leavitt.

Mark Langan: Upcycler Extraordinaire

September 28th, 2010

Edvard Munch’s The Scream, a well-known, highly respected piece of Symbolist art depicting mankind’s anxiety, lovingly reproduced in lavish detail with… cardboard? Yes, a recycled cardboard homage and masterpiece in its own right, carefully recreated by upcycling artist, Mark Langan.

Wholly self-taught, Mr. Langan began his one-man crusade of reclaimed cardboard art in 2004, shortly after he lost his office job. Passion for his work and for his statement of recycling is evident in every stunning piece he creates. And truly, his creations are breathtaking in design and texture, even more so when one considers his tools are simply cardboard, scissors, non-toxic glue, a cutting edge, a mat, and a razor knife. His designs are drawn freehand, never computer rendered first, and if he needs a bit of extra texture, he makes a paste of shredded cardboard, water, and glue. It is truly mind boggling what one can do with so little, and such simple items.

Corrugated art, as Langan likes to call it, is to him a celebration of altering perception about cardboard and corrugated fiberboards, displaying them in a way not originally intended, but showcasing the inherent beauty of design and form in a way that would otherwise see these qualities ignored. His supplies, surprisingly enough, come from his own neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, where every piece is saved from a garbage heap, and owes its second lease on life, in a stunning new light, to Mark Langan.

Most of Langan’s art is commission work, such as logos of major companies who would like a representation rendered in 3D reclaimed cardboard. Once you see what Mr. Langan can do, it becomes hard to imagine anyone not wanting a logo produced in his inimitable style. Other designs tend to be exquisite abstractions full of movement and overflowing with visual interest.

Obviously, Mark is a huge proponent of recycling, reducing, and reusing. While he does not believe he has made even the slightest impact in the huge volume of cardboard waste produced every day, he is content knowing that his effort is at least something. He hopes to encourage others in seeking new and innovative ways to reuse waste, to beautify with sculpture and art, and to bring joy through reduction of castoff material.

It seems that, though perhaps unspoken, Mr. Langan encourages each of us to see the beauty in everyday, ordinary, even banal items, to understand that commonplace does not mean ugly or set into one function, but that with insight, creativity, and a little patience, a new form can emerge from the old. That new form, elegant and trimmed, is capable of being seen in a way previously unimagined, though it never really changed. Perhaps this is the message of hope tacitly implied in the upcycled sculptures of corrugated art, what he presents in the current generation, and how he will challenge the next. A new vision, a different awareness, learning how to see things in a new light, with a twist of creativity and a liberal peppering of love… if only every venture were so poetic and so considerate of the planet we call home.

Chris Gilmour: Creating Reality with Cardboard

September 28th, 2010

Chris Gilmour is an English artist known exclusively for working with cardboard as his medium. Born in Stockport, England in 1973 before relocating to Udine, Italy in 1997, he was first displayed at a group show shortly thereafter in 1998. He makes actual-size replications of items from all walks of life using nothing but cardboard and glue.

Gilmour’s art is considered high end and is featured in museums all around the world, often ending up in private collections. The value comes from the absolute attention to detail that Gilmour gives every one of his pieces. At his shows, guests are often even fooled into thinking the displays were the actual objects portrayed, just covered in paper. This transition of adding value to the item is a part of the phenomenon called upcycling. Upcycling incorporates the main idea of recycling, reusing a product instead of just throwing it away, but does so in such a way that the item is now worth much more than it ever was. Cardboard in particular is a perfect example of upcycling because of the connotation it carries: it is often seen as trash, not good for much beyond a single use. Homeless people even sleep on it. But this only increases the awe that Gilmour can make something so beautiful out of it.

Over the years, Gilmour’s work has seen a natural progression in both complexity of subject and depth of meaning. Some of his earlier works were smaller and featured less detail that would need to be replicated for the piece to work, such as teacups and a teapot. As he has refined his craft though, he has begun sculpting figures like Julius Caesar and Queen Victoria. In addition to the complexity though, Gilmour has also slightly changed the material he has been using. Upon starting out in cardboard art, he typically limited himself to recycled, industrial cardboard, giving his works their clean and hyper-realistic look. As he has grown in skill though, he has begun using only found, pre-existing cardboard, which gives his work a weathered look. Often times, Gilmour will let the logos and advertising brands on the cardboard remain visible in the finished product. This creates an interesting response in the viewer as it can no longer be forgotten that Gilmour is using old and dirty cardboard to make something beautiful.

Part of the impression that Gilmour wishes to leave on his fans is also brought about by the blankness of everyday objects made from cardboard. Though they are imbued with enough detail to be mistaken for being real, they are also devoid of the details we all know to expect, such as the black, greasy color of bike chain or the metallic shine of the frame. By creating a bicycle out of cardboard without these characteristics, the viewer is able to place his or her own memories onto that paper replica of a bike, we are able to turn it into the bike we had when we were ten years old and just learned how to ride without training wheels.

Chris Gilmour has steadily been evolving his style as he gets better at cardboard art. At only 37, it is exciting to think of the places he will take cardboard art in the future.

Shigeru Ban: Paper Architect

September 27th, 2010

Shigeru Ban is a world-renown architect who has pioneered the use of paper, especially cardboard tubes, as building material.

Ban was born in 1957 in Tokyo, Japan and studied in the United States, starting at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. From there, he went to Cooper Union’s School for Architecture, one of the most prestigious and selective schools in the nation. While there he studied under John Hejduk, who got him interested in some very basic fundamentals, which in turn led him to think about architecture in a different way and experiment with materials such as cardboard tubes. Ban’s style is a unique combination of his Japanese culture and his Western education in California and New York. For instance, Hejduk emphasized studying architectural systems, which led to the choice to use cardboard tubes as a base material, but the Japanese technique of shōji also calls for the use of paper, typically in doors and windows.

Ban has always been in favor of the sustainability and environmental friendliness, which has also led to him using paper as a building material. This sensibility and desire for a better world created in him an interest in designing simple, easy-to-use shelters for displaced refugees. Ban recognized the need for shelters that were easy to setup and maintain, without costing too much – and that his paper buildings perfectly fit the bill. This realization was also probably aided by his being from Japan, a country that has suffered earthquakes toppling buildings.

Takatori Church

In fact, it was a relief structure in Japan after the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995 for which Ban is most famous. The earthquake, also known as the Kobe earthquake for causing the most casualties there, took the lives of 6,434 people and caused around $100 billion worth of damage. The Takatori Church was just of one of thousands ruined in the quake, but Ban designed a paper-tube church as a temporary replacement. Working for free, he organized the donation of materials from companies, assuring it would cost nothing for the victims. For 5 weeks 160 volunteers built a structure that ultimately stood for 10 years in Kobe, Japan- an impressive feat no matter what the conditions. The building was so durable that even when the Takatori Church finally received a new building in 2005, the Paper Dome, as it had come to be known, was disassembled and shipped off to Taiwan to be used as a temporary relief structure there after another earthquake.

The Nomadic Museum; Tokyo, Japan

Though he is most known for his paper materials architecture, Ban has applied the principles of sustainability wherever he can and with whatever means, not limiting himself to paper. He has designed a sustainable museum, known as the Nomadic Museum, which can be assembled from empty shipping containers and stacked on top of one another to form the walls of long warehouses. The structure was built to house the photography and film exhibit titled Ashes and Snow by artist Gregory Colbert. This traveling museum and exhibit has been constructed and displayed in New York City, Santa Monica, California, Tokyo and Mexico City from 2005 to 2008.

As active as he has been within humanitarian efforts, designing shelters in Turkey, Rwanda and numerous other places around the world, Shigeru Ban shows no signs of slowing down. More recently, he has been designing and building homes for refugees from the devastating earthquake in Haiti, using debris from the rubble to construct paper and cardboard tents. As long it is required, it is likely Ban will be ready to lend his architectural wizardry to those who need it.