EASY EDGES 1969-1973
EXPERIMENTAL EDGES 1979-1982
Photo courtesy FOGA
The exposed cut and layered edges of a cardboard site model inspired Frank Gehry to investigate cardboard's potential as an inexpensive and versatile alternative to traditional furniture materials. The initial result of this investigation was the development of Edgeboard Sections a lightweight, durable and structurally sound material formed by cross-laminating individual sheets of ordinary corrugated fiberboard into stacks which can then be inexpensively die-cut to any prescribed profile.
The color, warmth and overall strength of Edgeboard was found to be similar to that of wood and its use in non-wet environments almost parallel. However, Edgeboard has the advantage of being both structural and finished; its suede-like texture is intrinsic and requires no paints or varnishes (though these can be used, if desired) and its structure lends itself to a variety of sculptural shapes which rock, contract or spring back (and which would be costly and unfeasible in other materials). Production was found to be flexible enough to include potential applications varying from buildings to furniture to floor tiles.
Easy Edges, a line of commercial and residential furniture, was developed directly from Edgeboard, taking full advantage of the product's outstanding functional qualities and the unique aesthetic appeal of its "combed" surfaces. Hardboard facing was required to protect the relative fragile smooth surfaces on the sides of the furniture, but the exposed corrugated surfaces are extremely tough and the furniture is remarkably strong; in one of many research tests, three small Easy Edges bar stools supported a 2,000 lb. Volkswagen car. After extensive market research, a collection of seventeen individual furniture pieces was introduced at major department stores in New York and Los Angeles. This practical and reasonably priced collection included body-contoured chairs, bar stools, rockers, dining/conference/console and lamp tables, desks, nesting cubes and chairs, loungers and bed frames.
In contrast to the graceful, sculpted lines and strong linear profile of Easy Edges, the more recently developed Experimental Edges furniture has a solid somewhat shaggy profile. The irregular exposed corrugated surfaces result from the use of a structural cardboard commonly utilized in the production of hollow-core doors. This commercial, cardboard product is available in four "flute" sizes in precut sections ranging in thickness from 3/4" to 6'. A wide range of chairs designed in a variety of shapes and corrugations take advantage of the material's rich texture and varied thicknesses. In some cases, sections are laminated to each other slightly out of alignment, throwing individual stacks of corrugation into relief. These pieces appear to fulfill more accurately the expectations associated with "paper" furniture and their solidity is unexpected. Like Easy Edges, the Experimental Edges furniture pieces possess high sound absorbency and require little maintenance, withstanding tough treatment without marring. The Experimental Edges furniture continues to be widely exhibited despite the fact that it was not developed commercially.
Although Easy Edges and Experimental Edges are no longer in production, the architect continues to explore alternative materials that lend themselves to the construction of practical, relatively inexpensive furniture whose structure is undisguised and intrinsic to the design.