Cheap, plentiful, sturdy, and recyclable, cardboard has long been a favorite building material for designers and tinkerers. Cardboard boxes are considered a valuable tool to kindle a child’s imagination, while architects have used it to erect temporary shelters in times of crisis. (Brussels is currently using origami-style cardboard tents to house its thousands of homeless residents.)
This humble material is also the enabler of the $1.9-trillion e-commerce industry. And increasingly, it has a place at the cutting-edge of tech, with Google and Nintendo incorporating it into products. This unsung hero of everyday life and global commerce is perhaps the only form of paper with a cultural hold that seems to be growing stronger in the digital age.