A Pile of Scrap Cardboard Inspired Frank Gehry's Iconic Collection

A Pile of Scrap Cardboard Inspired Frank Gehry's Iconic Collection

By Alex Ronan
The story behind Frank Gehry’s Easy Edges.

Throughout the sixties, furniture designers played around with cardboard, but the lightweight and durable nature of plastic was hard to top. Explorations of cardboard were waning, when, in the early seventies, Frank Gehry released the Easy Edges collection.  

Despite its popularity, Gehry halted production of the Wiggle Side chair only two years after the collection launched. Production on the Easy Edges collection resumed in 1986, when Vitra reissued four central pieces.

The starting point was a pile of corrugated cardboard Gehry saw on the street outside of his office. "I began to play with it, to glue it together, and to cut it into shapes with a hand saw and a pocket knife," he later said. While other designers had been using single pieces of cardboard reinforced with folds, slots, or tabs, Gehry’s innovations resulted in a sturdy, long-lasting material. Glued together, the alternating strips of corrugated cardboard offered new possibilities for cardboard furniture.

A thin layer of hardwood is applied to the flat surfaces, providing the cardboard-constructed furniture with enough durability for everyday use.

When Easy Edges launched in 1972, the collection garnered immediate attention. The centerpiece was the Wiggle Side Chair. Its twisted lines with a previously inconceivable construction technique signified a striking departure from the cardboard furniture designed in the preceding years.

This incredible rare prototype of the Easy Edges collection dates to 1969 and was purchased directly from Gehry.

Overnight, Gehry became a sensation. But, instead of enjoying his success, Gehry shut himself up for weeks. The high price point of the Easy Edges collection wasn’t in line with his beliefs in affordable furniture. He was concerned that his furniture designs would overshadow his work as an architect. Despite their critical reception, Gehry stopped production in 1974.

The residents of a home designed by the late architect David Boone incorporated the Wiggle Side Chair in their living room.

From another angle, a different Easy Edges chair is visible, this time, in the company of a Warren Platner for Knoll chair and two leather seats.


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