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Photo: depositphotos.com
Photo: depositphotos.com

Paper as a furniture material may seem unconventional, but it has actually been used in various forms and techniques to create functional and aesthetically pleasing pieces.

Types of Paper Material in Furniture

  1. Cardboard: This is a sturdy paper product composed of several layers of paper or paper pulp. It's known for its strength and rigidity, despite being lightweight. It's often used for temporary or lightweight furniture and has seen innovative applications in eco-friendly designs and DIY furniture.

  2. Papier-Mâché: A composite material consisting of paper pieces or pulp bound with an adhesive like glue, starch, or wallpaper paste. It can be shaped and molded when wet and becomes hard and durable when dried. Papier-mâché can be used to make decorative elements of furniture or sculptural pieces.

  3. Paper Laminates: Thin layers of paper can be impregnated with resins and pressed together to form a durable laminate. These laminates can be used as a finish on wooden or other types of furniture, providing decorative surfaces that are scratch and impact resistant.

  4. Origami-Inspired Furniture: Some designers have taken inspiration from the Japanese art of paper folding to create furniture that uses the strength of folded paper or cardboard to maintain structural integrity.

  5. Honeycomb Paperboard: The honeycomb design provides great strength and rigidity for its weight and is used for lightweight paneling in furniture. It has excellent compression strength and can be covered with a veneer or laminate.


  • Lightweight: Paper materials are often much lighter than wood, metal, or plastic equivalents, making for easy-to-move furniture.
  • Sustainable: Paper is often sourced from renewable resources and can be recycled, making it appealing as an eco-friendly furniture material.
  • Versatile: Paper can be colored, printed on, textured, or shaped, offering vast design possibilities.
  • Strength: When layered or constructed in certain ways (like honeycomb structures), paper can be quite strong relative to its weight.
  • Insulation: Paper has natural insulative properties, which can be advantageous in certain furniture applications.
  • Affordability: Compared to some traditional furniture materials, paper-based options can be cost-effective.


  • DIY Projects: Many DIY enthusiasts use cardboard and papier-mâché for custom furniture projects due to their ease of manipulation and low cost.
  • Children’s Furniture: Being lightweight and easily replaceable, paper materials are suitable for furniture designed for temporary use or for children's playrooms.
  • Exhibition and Event Furniture: Paper-based furniture is often used in settings where temporary furnishings are needed for short-term use.
  • Eco-Friendly Lines: Brands focusing on sustainability may produce lines of furniture made predominantly from recycled paper or cardboard.
  • Decorative Details: Laminates and other paper finishes are used to add aesthetic value to more traditional furniture bases.

Sustainability and Environmental Impact

Paper furniture can be eco-friendly, especially if it’s made from recycled materials and designed to be recyclable at the end of its life. However, it’s important to consider the entire lifecycle – from production to disposal – as well as the type of inks, dyes, and adhesives used, which can affect recyclability and environmental friendliness.

Durability and Care

While innovations in paper materials have increased their durability, they typically do not have the same longevity as harder materials like wood or metal. They can be more susceptible to moisture and fire unless specially treated. Care should be taken to keep paper-based furniture in a dry environment, and it should be cleaned with a dry cloth or a slightly damp cloth if necessary, avoiding excessive water or chemical cleaners.

In summary, paper as a furniture material offers innovative design possibilities and aligns with a demand for sustainable products. It has found niches in various furniture applications although it is not without limitations concerning durability and resistance to elements.

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