Katie Hofstetter

Senior architecture student Joseph Lyman is expanding the uses of cardboard, and his bank account while he’s at it.

As part of a competition for the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), Lyman created a chair solely comprised of corrugated cardboard that was placed in the top six designs at the AIAS Chair Affair 2006. Lyman beat out 87 other contestants to gain the honor.

As a finalist, Lyman’s chair will be displayed at the AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Los Angeles from June 8 to 10, where the winner will be announced as well.

The competition’s winner will receive $2,500 and a free trip to the Independent Corrugated Converters Convention in Chicago on Oct. 11 to 14, with second place receiving $1,500 and a ticket to the convention. All of the top six finalists are guaranteed at least $500 in prize money.

Lyman’s design is contending against other cardboard chairs from University of Oregon, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Cuesta College.

Lyman said he originally designed his chair two years ago, after seeing a flier for the Chair Affair, but was timid to enter his design in the competition. Only after his chair placed in the top 10 in a design contest sponsored by local furniture design showroom, Vellum, did Lyman feel prepared for a national competition.

“I wasn’t aware of (the chair’s quality) until I took it to the Vellum show and saw people interacting with it,” Lyman said. “Then I got the confidence to enter it in the AIA competition.”

Since first designing the chair, Lyman has created 26 copies, 13 of which he sold for $60 a piece. He said now that the design has garnered national acclaim, he will raise the chair’s price.

For the design process, Lyman said he was instructed to create an aesthetically pleasing, elevated, cardboard chair, while keeping in mind reproduction abilities.

The AIAS Chair Affair originated as a way to promote sustainability by offering alternative uses for cardboard, Lyman said.

“It’s inspired other people to think of ways to creatively use waste products,” he added.

The International Corrugated Packaging Foundation (ICPF) sponsors the Chair Affair competition.

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