Minimizing materials used to create something doesn't necessarily mean making a simpler product: you can do a lot more with a lot less, if you're a sophomore in the Rhode Island School of Design's Industrial Design program. In a competition, the students were challenged to make an original chair design from one piece of 48″ x 80″ cardboard that would support at least 55 pounds, and the results are awesome.
The low weight target meant all the chairs were built for children, who tend not to be big fans of sitting still. To see how the students' creations stacked up, seven children were brought in to test them out, which led to them not so much sitting as jumping on, breaking down and playing with the chairs. (They were observed from another room via a webcam.) At the end of the informal trial period, each kid got to take his preferred chair/toy home, signed by the designer.
The range of designs is remarkable: There is a hippo, a min-village, a log, and plenty more that defy easy description. The takeaway for TreeHuggers is that with a little innovation, a lot can be done with very little. It's not clear where the cardboard used came from, but RISD would get extra points for using recycled materials.
Check out more photos in a RISD blog post by challenge competitor Callil Capuozzo.