CR Blog

Step into my cardboard office...

Books, Graphic Design

Posted by Mark Sinclair, 9 March 2009, 16:22    Permalink    Comments (49)

Nothing is a new commercial creative agency formed by Michael Jansen and Bas Korsten that has just opened its doors in Amsterdam. While the city houses the KesselsKramer agency in a fairly unconventional building – a nineteenth-century church – the Nothing office is an unusual construction too, in that it is built almost entirely out of cardboard. They sent us some great pictures of the space, which was created by designers Joost van Bleiswijk and Alrik Koudenburg...

The Nothing team took the idea behind the company name (taking nothing and turning it into something) as the starting point for the physical design of the office; which included creating walls, signage, beams, tables, shelving and even a set of stairs out of cardboard.

But Nothing aren't going to be prissy about the clean lines of designer cardboard that surrounds them. Apparently, the walls will double as a blank canvas with visitors encouraged to leave their mark on the surfaces. Indeed, illustrator Fiodor Sumkin was the first to liven up Nothing's predominantly brown colour scheme with some well-crafted penmanship.

And when they get bored by the accumulated daubings, the studio can presumably replace individual sections of their workspace for, well, nothing much at all.

All photography by Joachim Baan.

More on Nothing at


truly awesome office space going on here!
James Kirkup
2009-03-09 18:03:00

This is just awesome! I've been a big fan of building stuff out of cardboard since building forts out of Christmas boxes as a youngster, you just made my day.

And what better way to promote a new creative agency, just don't spill that coffee!
Ryan Stang
2009-03-09 22:01:15

fire hazard, much?
2009-03-09 22:57:08

Oh this is unbelievable, makes me think of the possibilities we could achieve over our next Christmas break.

Will post a link to images if we complete the project.
Freehill Media Web Design
2009-03-10 00:43:58

What a gloriously simple idea. Looks fantastic.

Reminds me of the cardboard 'arts club' that featured in last summer's 'The Family' exhibition, held by the brilliant illustration collective Le Gun. Totally different treatment of the aesthetic and on a similar scale, but similarly beautiful.
2009-03-10 00:59:06

I love it! i'm truly amazed by how cool it looks, so organic yet fashion-awesome!! but i wonder tho, if it's strong enough to all that stuff?
2009-03-10 01:02:12

Man their fire insurance must be pretty expensive!
Guido Ruminaka
2009-03-10 04:49:29

Oh, look at me drinking my green tea whilst I sit at my cardboard table. This is offensive in every way. This cardboard should rightfully be recycled into something useful. A box of some sort.
2009-03-10 06:31:14

Keep cigarettes out and the fire extinguisher handy.

I assume its only the surface that is cardboard?
Budo Baylosis
2009-03-10 07:17:57

Someone is going to have a soggy desk if they spill their coffee.

Incredible space though, I'd love to work there.
2009-03-10 10:23:44

actually, good corrugated cardboard is far more sturdy than you might think and can support a lot more weight than you might think. while dousing it in liquid will eventually weaken it, the thicker corrugated cardboard will hold up to everyday spills pretty well.

in addition, the material used for building is usually recycled and can be recycled once it starts to break down.

kudos to the Nothing team for their cardboard hangout. personally, i think it's brilliant!
2009-03-10 10:47:43

Did the illustrator really contribute that much? Or are you simply making Sumkin out of Nothing?
Mr Miller
2009-03-10 11:26:42

Thank for the comments,.... for more no screw no glue designs please visit my website.
Joost van bleiswijk
2009-03-10 12:02:45

Wow, looks absolutely great and wonderful!
2009-03-10 12:21:32

Amazing! Also check out as they have been doing this for years and years!

Michael Murdoch
2009-03-10 13:02:09

What happens when you spill your tea?
2009-03-10 14:22:01

The most popular person in the office is going to be the one with band-aids for paper cuts.
Another nice thing, brown. All of that warm color is going to help with heating bills :).
2009-03-10 14:38:57

I'd love the space in which they have to put the office, I think mine would look more something like this (if I can paint the scene) - Me sat on a box, with my Macbook Pro on a box, with a box on my head in my box room office, in my boxers! (well maybe not the last bit!)
Nice project it must have taken them some time...I'd love to have a scribble!
2009-03-10 15:15:52

And if he spill is drink? Then what?
2009-03-10 15:41:36

I'm always amazed by the consistancy of peoples coments when they are looking to downgrade something.
There are a miriad of waterproof coatings to apply to the cardboard. The snooty person with her green tea who finds this offensive in every way? woof...
2009-03-10 15:45:02

We are going to have do this at Truly amazing work.
2009-03-10 15:45:41

What cool space, Just goes to show the innovative products you can develop with alternative materials. We at are considering something similar.
James Bell
2009-03-10 17:36:56

Please don't view this as criticism; I'm just curious... How do you prevent the walls from catching fire at the power outlets?
2009-03-10 17:39:32

Looks cool. Hope no one spills any water.
2009-03-10 19:10:51

Man this is really wicked!

Fire? Humidity?
2009-03-10 19:58:48

Great design! See big downside with fire / water issues. Should have tried to build this with all my IKEA boxes. Instead, I took the boxes back to Ikea and asked Ikea to recycle them for me. They did! Thanks IKEA!
AJ Ladd
2009-03-10 20:59:29

I love the fact that they kept the raw, frilly edges of the card showing, it's a perfect example of a beauty bi-product of a sensible structure. I normally love any illustrative addition but in this case I think it was so lovely and simple it was a shame to do illustrations on it. Although, it would be nice to see some more photos as it evolves!
Betony May
2009-03-10 22:31:40

Nice office, i must say, but to me this isn't quitte new. I've worked in a cardboard office back in 2005 @ scherpontwerp in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
marc de kruijf
2009-03-10 23:26:02

Nice office. Now if they could just take that philosophy to their clients, they'd REALLY have something.
marty mcdonald
2009-03-11 00:42:02

I think some of you are missing the point. The best thing for this IS NOT to recycle it. Why would you make loads of brand new cardboard and then recycle it? That would be a waste. The fact that this will be USED for years to come (and yes it will last years) and then can be recycled when it's served it's purpose, is what makes it environmentally friendly. And saying that a box is more useful than a full office is ridiculous! Also to put everyones minds at rest, you can get waterproof, fire retardant cardboard. But I see what you mean, having a cardboard office would be silly and dangerous, like having everything made out of wood, oh wait a minute........!
I also think that the structure of the stairs (and other furniture) would be totally made from cardboard and would be plenty strong enough. The material they have used has a honeycomb centre (like some doors) and is incredibly strong! I think it looks fantastic by the way, but then I am a cardboard engineer by trade so may be a little biased.
Sue Denym
2009-03-11 11:03:22

See the original cardboard office on

Designed and produced in 2005 in Eindhoven.
2009-03-11 11:13:55

Dear all.
Thank you for the (most) positive reactions.
To everyone who is concerned about the fire risks, cut's at the shap edges and coffee stains I can tell you this:

-The material is treated with a fire resistant substance.
This makes the material as slow burning as any other coated material,.... and by the way, how many times did the pile of paper on your desk catch fire??

-the material is quite thick, the top layer is a 2 mm solid cardboard that doesn't cut your hands as a thin paper sheet would do.

-Coffee stains?? who drinks coffee as you have to work?
No seriously,.... the material is a high pressure cardboard that doesn't soak liquids as a normal paper box would do. The layer on top makes that you can wipe and clean the worst damage.
And if it does get too dirty,.... we just cut another tabletop.

best Joost
joost van bleiswijk
2009-03-11 23:46:38

The dutch love to smoke. I should imagine this also to be true when they're on fire.
Sam Fitzpatrick
2009-03-12 08:38:19

Wonderful to see the responses in comments to people's concerns by joost van bleiswijk. All too often I see posts about something interesting with no followup to questions in comments. Great.
2009-03-12 14:11:00

I might become a tramp.
Creative Agency
2009-03-12 16:50:59

spray that cardboard with some waterproof silicon or something and the coffee spillage problem might dissapear.

wood burns too doesn't it? as do many things in your average home / office..

really well done
2009-03-13 12:47:32

Is this an old tvgohome webisode?
2009-03-13 15:15:02

Illustrator's work on the project (russian language blog, lots of photos):
2009-03-13 21:50:25

This is freaking AWESOME! What fantastic work! I love the idea of having guests and clients being able to leave their mark as well. Beautiful.
Melody of NZ
2009-03-14 06:42:27


can i aplly for a job ? :)

Amazing work space, amazing design must be done there!

greetings from portugal!
victor afonso
2009-03-17 12:48:08

To all you people whom are more obsessed with coffee stains and spillage, rather than the fantastic , creative and geniousness of the talented minds of these guys...You are obviously slobby, coffee spilling, jealous , whinging, not gonna bother about doing anything to make the world a better place..nobodies whom should crawl into a cardboard box... and i hope that one will catch on fire...with a bit of help.
Jonie Leuver
2009-03-17 14:11:13

Please also visit
Alrik did all the talks, concepts, production and styling of this intense project.
As the material was difficult to work with, delivery and planning were bewitched by delays, Alrik kept the spirit and energie to make this into a fantastic project.
Also a lot of credits to the team who made it work:
Remco, Bas, Coen, Guus, Wieland, Jord, Stijn, Hazel and many others.
2009-03-18 23:56:56

How functional that can be ?
2009-03-23 16:10:26

cooooooool..... amazing minimali spirit!
2009-03-23 20:21:06

Very Impressive. Can it withstand pointy heel shoes and spilled coffee?
2009-03-24 17:51:30

This is beautiful, and also long overdue.

Some pretty hilarious comments here such as the one saying this is "offensive in every way" and this should have been recycled into something useful like a cardboard box! I'm sure it's simple enough to produce/procure recycled cardboard to do the same thing, in which case this WOULD BE recycling! And this should be a bit more useful than a cardboard box. LOL

When I had toddlers and a shortage of efficient furnishings that worked for them, I would reuse an ordinary cardboard box and make something useful out of it, like a shelf for diapers or toys or books:
1. Use hot-glue to seal it back up tight and strong.
2. Cut a large and imaginatively shaped hole in the back such as a heart, cloud or car (could also work for grown-ups using gothic arches and such).
3. Spray paint the box a primary color, inside and out (wrapping it in gift-wrap of a nice design would also work).
4. Staple it with a staple-gun to the wall at a suitable height for toddlers, and nearby other boxes of similar and complimentary design.
5. Put stuff in it.
As long as the cardboard isn't too thick and it's only holding normal kids' stuff, the staples will hold it because the glue and construction are what makes it strong. They wear out over the years, but kids grow up quick. It beats waiting for years to find the right piece of wooden or laminate furniture at the right price.

Cardboard is much more useful than most people give it credit for. The strength of wood, metal or plastic (?!) are just not necessary in every instance, and even when strength is required, cardboard becomes strong when it is shaped correctly. The honeybee has shown us that even soft wax can be strong when constructed right. Using the same principle, one could build almost anything.

Can you guys build a Gothic Bedroom Set this way - complete with flying buttresses and rose window? Would love to see that.
2009-08-07 21:02:55

Shawn's comment only goes to show how narrow minded he is. I'd like to see him attempt to create this office in Photoshop!
2009-08-12 22:08:02

It's amazing what can be done out of cardboard but I wonder, if the cardboard it's self didn't cost much, the design and the actual work in creating all the office out of it must have been a bit more than "Nothing"...
Button Badges
2010-10-18 17:12:52

what kind of corrugated cardboard is this??
2011-02-23 19:18:00

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