Cardboard Carbon Neutral

Sculptor Chris Gilmour's work transforms cardboard headed for the recycling plant into meticulous life-size sculptures of everyday items.

| September-October 2010

  • Cardboard Carbon Neutral Chris Gilmour

    Courtesy of Perugi Artecontemporanea, Photo: Marco De Palma

  • Cardboard Carbon Neutral Chris Gilmour

“Reuse” comes before “recycle” in the waste pyramid, and few people are as good at reusing as sculptor Chris Gilmour. His work, inspired by “a love of stuff,” transforms cardboard headed for the recycling plant into a close look at the human obsession with objects as well as the psychology of waste.

His sculptures are the ultimate consumerist paradox: sturdy-looking cars, motorbikes, and scientific equipment made out of a relatively fragile material. They’re about as carbon neutral as they come.

Gilmour started out using cardboard for prototypes but soon realized its potential as a material: “It’s very strong, you can make big things quickly, and it has a nice conceptual content: the idea of the object that was contained in the box disappearing and something now being created from the box,” he explains.

Gilmour finds cardboard outside shops and morphs the former packaging into meticulous life-size creations of everyday items, whether it’s a classic icon like a Fiat 500 coupe, a stovetop espresso machine, or a dentist’s chair.

His works-in-progress are as spellbinding as the final sculptures: Each piece starts as sketches, photographs, and measurements, and is then built in jaw-dropping detail.

—excerpted from Make (Vol. 22), the ultimate do-it-yourself technology magazine;