What Can You Make Out Of Cardboard?

By Sujata Burman

Peter Marigold pushes the boundaries of waste material in Coal Drops Yard

Peter Marigold has been making things from cardboard since he was young. “As a child, you see the potential in everything to be something,” says the designer and tutor. For his London Design Festival project at King’s Cross, Marigold is harnessing that childhood appreciation, bringing back the nostalgia of creating cardboard models, while showcasing the potential of material.

“Just make it out of a cereal box,” Marigold remembers telling one of his students, when they said they couldn’t find any cardboard around the house. He aims to highlight the same simple fact with this installation – cardboard is all around us, so why not think of it in a more valuable way?

He developed the idea further when looking at the recycling and waste management process at Coal Drops Yard. “Everything is weighed and meticulously separated on site,” Marigold says of the impressive system. “The thing that breaks my heart is seeing perfectly good things chucked away. This happens with cardboard,” he continues, explaining that his approach to design has always been intrinsically linked with an appreciation of materials.


"Just make it out of a cereal box" - Peter Marigold

For the interactive installation, a cohort of global designers – including Campana Brothers, Chen Chen & Kai Williams and Faye Toogood – were briefed by Marigold to “design something you can make with waste cardboard from Coal Drops Yard.” Their sketches have been turned into digital plans, which can be fed into a CNC machine that cuts out the finished template of the cardboard product.

“It's a bit of a YouTube video, where the real value is inside,” Marigold says of the performative aspect of ‘The Unboxing Show’. Expect fruit bowls, side tables, a cat scratching unit, a clock, and more – all made from cardboard, of course, and available for the audience to create and take home. So, how far has Marigold pushed the boundaries of the material, what‘s the greatest thing he’s made with cardboard? “A fire engine when I was younger, with removable storage units,” he says. Clearly, the possibilities are endless.