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DIY cardboard furniture with free IKEA-style instructions

After a move to a new city and a trip to IKEA, industrial designer Adrián Candela was overwhelmed by the packing waste stacked in his living room. In need of a nightstand and not wanting to spend any more money (nor contribute to the waste), Candela turned the old boxes into new furniture.

His Nit (Catalan for “night”) nightstand is now 8 months old (it was a Christmas gift for his girlfriend) and it is still standing (it’s even had water spilled on it). Inspired by how easy the process was to upcycle his corrugated fiberboard, Candela created a simple step-by-step assembly guide that he has made available for free online so that others too could turn their furniture waste into side tables.

All that is necessary are three 2.5 mm sheets of cardboard, a utility knife, a pencil, a triangle (optional), and a cutting board. You can download the plans for free from his website. Candela intentionally created them like those of IKEA because he wanted them to be easy to follow. Though he warns that until you’re comfortable with the design it may take a couple of hours to get the cuts right. Though once the cardboard is cut it takes just 2 to 3 minutes to assemble… and disassemble… and reassemble.

Candela’s creation was inspired by Austrian designer Victor Papanek and his book Nomadic Furniture. “Not everything has to be store-bought, you can make your own stuff,” argues Candela, “and what’s nice about it, is you can custom-make your own stuff to fit your specific needs.”

Candela also thinks that cardboard shouldn’t only be viewed as cheap, but can be celebrated, within limits. “As long as you don’t go overboard and have everything cardboard. I think a few pieces they’ve got a certain appeal to them… maybe one piece per room.”