Pop-up books brought a complex and seemingly hi-tech three-dimensionality to otherwise 2D volumes for the entertainment of children. Likewise, this all-in-one portable cardboard office folds from two opposing flat panels right out into an engaging desk-and-chair set. 

Pretty fun, right? Unfortunately, this is more art than architecture or even real furniture design – the cardboard parts are not strong enough to support a person’s weight. It is, however, a great designer concept that will have more and more realistic applications as in innovations material science and structural design continue.

Designed by artists Liddy Scheffknecht and Armin B. Wagner, this pop-up cardboard furniture set is a great example of flat pack potential in action. The designers show off how it works in a video, folding and unfolding it from what looks like no more than a giant piece of cardboard.

pop up cardboard office gif

Sure, it’s flimsy, but imagine if it were made of a stronger material that’s still lightweight enough to be portable, for example. Then you can start to envision entire rooms that spring from flat surfaces into three dimensions in a matter of seconds, as if you shrunk yourself small enough to explore the landscapes of a pop-up book. Who wouldn’t want that?

Scheffknecht’s take on it is decidedly more political, however, which you may find interesting as well:

“The sculpture, entirely made out of cardboard and tape, can be opened and closed like a book. Using the technique of pop ups a mobile working station consisting of a desk, a chair and a laptop appears and disappears. The market demands flexible, mobile employees, ready to work at any time and any place. Pop Up looks like a perfect working station for them. However, the working station is neither flexible nor solid nor practical. What seemed great and magical at first, turns out to be fragile and not functional at all. Pop Up is not advertising a new type of office furniture, Pop Up criticises working conditions.”