Kübbii is a Montréal-based company founded in 2012 that specialises in the production of modular furniture made of recycled cardboard. The main principle of Kübbii is the exclusive use of local suppliers and the sustainability of materials used in production. In an interview with Pierre Ragot, one of the founders of Kübbii, he talks to Icsid about the qualities and potential of cardboard, Kübbii’s business model and the social impact of the company.

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Q: Where does the inspiration for producing cardboard furniture come from?

The idea for the Kübbii actually came while we were brainstorming a line of products for the home that we knew we wanted to produce using sustainable and re-usable materials that could be found locally. Our aim was to create a product that would satisfy a range of criteria including aesthetic appeal, sustainability and durability – a challenging task as some of the criterion worked against each other.

Our biggest challenge however, is that we really wanted to create a product that would stimulate the creation of new things, rather than encourage consumerism. That is where the modular component of the Kübbii comes from – using the Kübbii modules, it is possible to build a great variety of other things. At the same time, adding a custom designed interchangeable frontal panels; we increased the product’s aesthetics value with an assortment of colours and designs to satisfy different demands without compromising the sustainability of the final product.

Q: Why cardboard? What are the particular qualities of cardboard that you like the most? What have been the challenges working with this material

We decided to use cardboard to manufacture Kübbii due its ecological and lightweight properties, but also because cardboard could be found locally in large quantities.

In production, we use recycled corrugated cardboard, as it is the lightest cardboard of all that we tested. One sheet of cardboard is die-cut into 3 different sizes, which means that there is very little waste. The sheets are then binded together making the construction extremely durable, whereas one piece of cardboard itself is not very firm, many pieces bound together become increasingly durable, solid and create a firm structure. That’s perhaps the quality of cardboard that we value most.

As for the challenges, the biggest issue with cardboard is that it becomes warped when wet. But with the introduction of a removable frontal panel,  in case of water damage, only this piece can be replaced.

Q: Who are your clients? What has been the response from users about your product? 

Initially, we were positioning Kübbii as furniture for the home. Due its modularity, it could become a night table, a chair, a shelving system… or anything! But our market quickly expanded to office spaces, as well as to stores and boutiques where it is used for constructing all sorts of displays. Most recently, the Kübbii has been very practical in the construction of exhibitions where the modules have shown little limitations to the size of construction, and has demonstrated its versatility as it can be re-used and remodelled time and again.

Q: Do you feel limited by using only one material?

Not at all! In a way, this limitation has provided a lot in inspiration and potential for development.

Q: Are you thinking about expanding the product line to include any other material as an alternative to the cardboard?

Currently we have 3 different sizes of Kübbii modules, and we are testing new sizes to expand the product line, as well as are exploring opportunities to further decrease waste. In terms of materials, there is a new type of cardboard coming to the market called re-board, and it has reinforced durability, compared to the corrugated cardboard that we use right now. So perhaps we will try this new type of cardboard for the Kübbii.

Q: While developing this idea, did you think about the social impact of this product?

Of course! The fact that we decided to use only local suppliers should have a very positive impact on the local community. In addition to that, Kübbii’s business model is quite interesting: we don’t want to create offices around the world, but we encourage the expansion of this idea and we are ready to licence interested parties in other cities.

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