Paper Carpenter — local craftsman who designs structures using cardboard
Cardboard may be nothing but recycling material to most, but to Adrian Chua, it's his livelihood. And no, he's not a karang guni man, but the founder of Paper Carpenter, which creates 3D objects out of sheets of cardboard.
Even as a child, Mr Chua had been fascinated by pop-up books and how a flat sheet of paper could be transformed into a 3D piece of art.
The idea of using cardboard as a working medium came to him when Mr Chua was a production manager in an advertising firm, and his client wanted a 2m-tall self-standing directional sign that needed to be collapsible, lightweight, eco-friendly and cheap.
Mr Chua proposed using cardboard. The cardboard sign was quickly made and Mr Chua had a happy client. With that, he switched to a career working with paper, and founded Paper Carpenter in 2013.
One of his more notable works is a Christmas tree at Millenia Walk, on which he collaborated with industrial designer Melvin Ong. The 12m-tree even made it into the Singapore Book of Records for the Tallest Cardboard Christmas Tree in 2015. He used wood, metal and cardboard to create the framework, while the external cladding was made of cardboard covered with gold reflective stickers.
Last year, Mr Chua turned Changi Airport in to a veritable paper museum, when his collection of Singapore's iconic landmarks made out of cardboard went on display.
Paper Carpenter gets its cardboard from local stockists and overseas paper mills, and only those that practise responsible forestry. Mr Chua adds that the company is also manufacturing its own cardboard that is fire-retardant and water-resistant.
Mr Chua uses the method of cardboard carpentry to create the structures. This involves making crease and cut lines on a flat sheet of cardboard. The cardboard pieces are folded and slotted into each other to form the structure, using as little glue as possible. If he needs to add weights to stabilise the structure, he uses large PET bottles filled with water, or even used car batteries. "Our products are 100 per cent recyclable and upcycled," he says.
Unlike a discarded box, Mr Chua's cardboard structures are rarely thrown out after use. "Clients are very intrigued that the structures are made of cardboard," notes Mr Chua. "So they keep them, like art pieces."