What do a video games console, a VR headset, a bicycle (and its helmet), furniture, a drone, a vacuum cleaner, and a cathedral all have in common? Their main component material: cardboard. You do not have to look far to find a source of inspiration after all.

Google Cardboard, the star of the show

Cardboard is without a doubt the most popular object when it comes to innovation. Launched in 2014, Google Cardboard has been the spearhead of virtual reality’s democratization. With a small monetary investment you can build your own VR headset and interlock your smartphone into it to act as a screen. The whole thing is, of course, made from rigid cardboard.


Credits: Google

Nintendo Labo, cardboard accessories for the Switch

When it comes to revolutionising the video entertainment industry, Nintendo is wishfully disruptive. The Japanese firm proved this once again by revealing Nintendo Labo, a range of self-built cardboard toys for its latest console; the Nintendo Switch. The kit is made of foldable cardboard sheets that help you build objects into which the Switch and its controllers are slotted. This then allows you to play a variety of games especially made for Nintendo Labo.

Credits: Nintendo

The cardboard bicycle, cheaper than the Metro

In 2012 the Israeli engineer Izhar Gafni’s presentation of the cardboard bike project came out of nowhere. The tyres, brakes and transmissions are the only components made from other materials. Against all expectations, the bike functions well, is able to support a full-grown man and only weighs 9 kilograms. It is a perfect fit right alongside the EcoHelmet, a fold-up helmet made from cardboard, recyclable and just as shock absorbent as polystyrene models.

Credits: Cardboard Technologies

Cardboard furniture

BREEN, the Le Mans start-up, stole the show at Concours Lepine 2017 with their cardboard stool which earned them the gold medal. The firm tells us that the stool can be “assembled in 5 seconds, weighs 500 grams, and can resist up to 340 kgs”, we are told it is ideal for outdoor events. For example, in 2016, the Amaury Sport Organisation (which organises the Tour de France) ordered 5,000.

Credits: BREEN

A vacuum cleaner completely made of cardboard

The cardboard vacuum cleaner, christened Vax ev, is the work of Jake Tyler, a student at Loughborough University in the U.K. . The vacuum cleaner is predominantly made from ondulated cardboard sheets covered with an non-flammable coating. Most importantly however, it works just like a traditional vacuum cleaner.

Credits: Vax

A (solid) cardboard cathedral

Shigeru Ban is an architect that has been specialising in recycled materials design since 1986. When interviewed by ArchDaily, he entrusted them with the knowledge that “the strength of the building has nothing to do with the strength of the material. Even concrete buildings can be destroyed by earthquakes very easily, but paper buildings cannot.” On top of using unusual materials, which in this case is cardboard, Shigeru Ban is also a formidable designer. A testimony of his skill is the cathedral he built in New Zealand.

Credits: Shigeru Ban

Cardboard delivery drone

Drones are well-known for their Do It Yourself aspect, and anyone who is DIY inclined can easily put one together by following tutorials. Otherlab, however, completely revolutionised the game by introducing a disposable and compostable cardboard drone presented by TechCrunch. The drone can carry almost 1kg and was created to deliver blood, medicine or even vaccines to conflict zones and disaster areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Credits: Otherlab