10 of the best cardboard gadgets

We’ve come a long way from paper planes, as these exemplars of low cost, eco-friendly tech amply demonstrate

Berlin Boombox

£50 firebox.com

A flat packed kit that requires self-assembly, the Berlin Boombox is named after the city in which it was conceived (by designer Axel Pdaener). Made from recycled cardboard, the Boombox comes in one black and white finish – the idea being you can break out the Sharpies and customise its look. There are two 5W speakers, a 3.5mm stereo input and it runs off three AA batteries.

Cardboard bike


Cardboard boxes can be strong because of their structure, but this bicycle required years of perfecting in order to stand up to the weight of a human. Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni also treats the material with a secret formula to make it water- and fireproof, then finally coats it in lacquer paint. It contains no metal parts whatsoever, and should cost no more than US$20 to buy; mass production will begin in a few months.

Vax EV

£TBC cardboardvax.com

The brainchild of industrial design student Jake Tyler (who now works full-time for Vax), the Ev is made from recycled and recyclable material, mostly cardboard, and currently exists as a working prototype. Yes – it really does suck. Vax is planning trials in the near future, though – so it could become and actual product in the next few years.

Kid Koa's 12 Bit Blues

US$20 kidkoala.com

Buy the limited edition of the Canadian DJ’s latest release and you’ll get one heck of an extra in the box: a build-it-yourself cardboard gramophone and a playable disc. Fit a pin to the cone, spin the disc with your hand and you’ll hear something special.

Ikea Knappa Camera

£N/A psathome.ikea.com

A skinny, simple cardboard camera designed to be recycled after taking 30 shots, the Knappa is actually digital, and transfers photos to your computer using a swing-out USB arm. It’s not available to buy, but given to selected customers in IKEA’s retail stores.

HP cardboard desk

£N/A hp.com

Not a product you can actually buy unfortunately, this desk was designed in Singapore as part of a promotional drive for HP’s Z1 Workstation. Coming packed flat and user-assembled, it’s able to support up to 30kg of stuff and even has demarcated “zones” for the Z1’s components.


US$15 kickstarter.com

Most of us scan a handful of things every year – so why waste deskspace with a bulky old scanner? This Kickstarter project provides a far neater and cheaper alternative: made of sturdy laminated cardboard, it unfolds to form a frame (held together by magnets). Put your document underneath, place your smartphone on the top and take a photo – hey presto, you’ve got a scan in seconds.

Weltunit Papercrafts

£TBC weltunit.com

Weltunit’s superbly simple stands for the iPad and iPhone are made from laser-cut cardboard (running on carbon-free energy, natch), the idea being that, when you replace your iOS device with the new version, you won’t have to worry about selling or otherwise disposing of an expensive plastic stand: just chuck it in the recycling and spend a few quid on a new one.

Amarillo2 clock

£TBC shop.tenndo.com

New York-based Tenndo is a studio that promotes Colombian design abroad, and currently it’s doing that through the Amarillo2, a beautiful cardboard clock. Sadly the shop is under construction at the time of writing, so there’s no option to buy.

Recompute A8

£TBC recomputepc.om

From cardboard computer desks to cardboard computers. Well, the case anyway. Recompute’s PCs are clad in flame-retardant corrugated cardboard and can be upgraded (from a pretty swanky base level) prior to purchase. The 2012 model isn’t available in the UK at present, but last year’s model can be shipped to the UK.

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