We Built a Cardboard Robot

By 13th November 2019 No Comments

We built a cardboard robot!

But, why?

What do you do at work today? Well, here at Design33 we built a large cardboard robot. The 6ft lovable chap – D33P0 – now stands guard in the corner of the studio. He’s pretty quiet, more of an ‘observer’ than a ‘do-er’ and has a funky set of dreads.

The idea of building a cardboard robot was not just for fun, or something to fill a corner of the office, it actually came as the solution to a problem – what to do with all the junk gathering space in the studio! We’ve been in our Breakfast Mission studio for a year and a half now, and in that time we of course have collected bits and pieces, ordered new equipment, etc. Naturally, a small pile of old boxes and packaging compiled in the shelving units surrounding the studio – an out of sight, out of mind kind of storage facility. But, with things getting a tidy and fresh lick of paint around here, what with our new branding and website, we decided to tackle the pile!

Once everything was laid out…we kind of realised that we’d made an even bigger mess to be honest…but we quickly rallied, and were inspired to be creative when we found some of the bigger boxes. We began sifting through all the packaging and boxes, making ‘for the recycle bin’ or ‘keep for robot’ piles. After some many, many trips to the recycle bin, a stack of ‘robot parts,’ a clean(ish) studio turned robot workshop and a team fuelled by our creativity……we went to lunch.

Then, we got to work.

We started by looking at other examples of cardboard robots online, and there are some truly amazing ones! What we wanted was something that was simple, but could really make a visual impact. We did some sketches, we assessed what boxes we had to work with and how we could use them, the more we got into it, the more we realised we had to figure out. We had to make sure we had the same boxes for the arms and legs, and how those limbs would be positioned – will they move? How can we mechanise that movement? How will this all stick together? After settling on boxes for each part, we began stacking them in various combinations to see what looked good, and a robot began to form!

The next challenge was how to make the arms move? We needed the arm to rest, without tipping the balance of the structure, but be able to move if we wanted. This turned out to be a tad tricky! We knew we had to use some sort of pin method to join the top of the arm to the body, and be able to rotate around. After some brainstorming, we came up with Design33 pens as the solution! A Design33 pen was stabbed, from inside the body, out, and through the side of the inner arm. We then had to fix a make-shift ‘bolt’ round the pen within the arm in order to fix it in place. Yes, this involved quite a lot of awkwardly crawling inside boxes with phone torches and tape measures, but it was worth it! The left arm now rests on his hip, and can be lifted up and down – like he’s shaking your hand!

The head was placed on, we all stepped back, taking in our hard work, feeling pleased…for two seconds until we decided we weren’t entirely happy. Most of the boxes had writing or illustrations of them, showing assembly instructions and safety information and this was a little annoying. We didn’t want to paint anything, we wanted to show off the cardboard nature. So, we decided to turn the boxes inside out! We took apart the whole thing, opened up each of the boxes, flipped them over, re-folded them and taped them back up. And we were really pleased with the result! But it needed a little something extra…hair!

Just a couple days before, we had new plants delivered to the studio and we were struggling with where to put a couple of them. D33P0 was the solution! We carved a hole in the top of the head, added in a sort of platform, to raise the bottom of the box up, and placed our once out of place plant inside.

And so, D33P0 was finally finished. And I think you’ll agree, he’s pretty cool!