You think those cardboard chairs you saw at the Museum of Modern Art or the Detroit Institute of Art are really cool, but you're the first to admit that you're no lightweight. Can one of these super light chairs really support your weight? Or is a cardboard chair a disaster waiting to happen? The answer to both of these questions is yes. A good, well designed cardboard chair can support up to 180 pounds. Don't get too comfortable, though. These chairs have much shorter life spans than other types of chairs made from more traditional materials like wood. Plus, if you spill your drink on one of these or have a curious cat, the chair is pretty much done for.
Not every cardboard chair is designed the same way. Frank Gehry's wiggle chair, considered by some to be the original cardboard chair, is composed of layer upon layer of cardboard. These layers are then carved into the shape of a chair and set on their sides, so that the user is actually seated upon hundreds of layers of cardboard. When stacked so thick and assembled with glue, the cardboard is actually quite sturdy. It will wear over time, but shouldn't collapse beneath you.
Other designers have made cardboard chairs that are more akin to boxes. These chairs have shorter life spans than their layered cousins. The secret to making a box type cardboard chair that can support the weight of an adult is to make it out of several boxes that are all small. The more compact the pieces of the chair are, the sturdier they are. The cardboard begins to lose its structural integrity if you try to build with long pieces that have little support. You might notice that many of the box type cardboard chairs and stools are actually quite low to the ground.