Thinking Outside The Box

Newhaven startup turns cardboard eco-friendly furniture into business.

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Chairigami, the innovative  designer and manufactures of cardboard furniture such as couches, shelves, standing desks, even iPhone cases all with a special recyclable material called Triple Wall, a three-ply corrugated cardboard that will make you wish you had this to make those forts with as a kid. This Triple wall is made from 70% recycled cardboard and 30% FSC certified virgin fiber. Similar to the sturdiness of plywood, yet  flexible enough that it can bend without breaking, providing maximum comfort. The pieces — which range from $80 to $180 on the Chairigami website — ship flat in a box and you put it together much faster than what you get at IKEA as wells as no glue, no screws, nails, no mess.

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The former Yale undergrad Zachary Rotholz, 24, started the New Haven company in 2011 used his a Mechanical Engineering degree to solve the dreaded moving day as a college student. With cardboard couches and tables, moving is a breeze. Rotholz says “People these days just purchase stuff and throw it out when they’re done with it, so I wanted to get people thinking about what the material is made out of.

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Like Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, Rotholz opens his designs to customers or to anyone interested in using his pieces and a foundation to creatively innovate and make something new. “It’s almost like an open source material: hack it, rearrange it,” says Rotholz, who is also an alum of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute.

One of his cardboard tables was converted into a LEGO table by a summer camp that cut a rectangle hole in the middle of the table for a bin of LEGOs placed inside. Some of his other clients installed speakers, light fixtures, logos printed or elaborate patterns on the cardboard.  Just imagine what can be made from this material. It could be the green party’s new office furniture.

In a Bloomberg Radio Interview Rotholz says conventions and conferences are a new market he is breaking into since those who get booths at conferences need light-weight easy-to-assemble furniture that looks cool and catches the attention of exhibitors.

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Creating sustainability simply by providing lightweight, flatpacking, recycable, and inexpensive products to fill the need for temporary yet durable furniture is what sums up the company.

“Our furniture is free of nasty resins and glues, we’re just a no-glue kind of company” says Rotholz.
“We believe in producing recyclable furniture from renewable resources. Each piece of furniture is hand crafted right here in our New Haven storefront. Made in America and proud of it.”
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