Featured image for Refold Kickstarter: Sustainable Desk Design

Refold Kickstarter: Sustainable Desk Design

by Dieline Author on 10/20/2014 | 6 Minute Read

The way we work will forever be changed with this Kickstarter campaign from New Zealand design collective Refold. 20 days to go, this desk features sustainability, creativity and is designed for anyone wanting to change the way they work in a drop of a hat! 

"Flexible, foldable, portable, affordable & 100% recyclable. It’s a desk made entirely from cardboard that can support the weight of a person. It’s 100% recyclable, weighs just 6.5kg and folds up in seconds to a self-contained carrycase for maximum portability and easy storage."

"The way we work is changing 

We are more mobile and more connected than ever before, we have the ability to work from almost anywhere at anytime, but our workspaces have been slow to reflect this. 

Refold’s cardboard standing desk helps to facilitate the modern workflow by allowing flexibility and aiding collaboration. It enables project teams to assemble unique collaborative working environments in minutes and adapt it to their needs as they change. It allows you to work when and where you want. 

The potential applications for these desks are endless. They could be used for schools, creative studios, pop-up stores, mobile offices, hot-desking, disaster relief or simply if you want to try a standing desk. 

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The Team


The desk was designed as a standing desk for multiple reasons. First, research shows that when you’re standing you’re more likely to engage with others, share your ideas and work together. Standing also increases productivity but most importantly creates a healthier work environment. 

Human beings are not designed to sit in the same place for hours on end. Research shows that sitting causes irreversible damage. In fact sitting has even been labelled the new smoking. (Anup Kanodia) 

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About the desk 

The design folds and slots together in less than 2 minutes using four main pieces, with no tape or glue. 

It is made completely from a single material – 7mm twin cushion kraft cardboard, which means it’s 100% recyclable and can be put out with your household recycling. 

Each leg is constructed from 3 pieces of cardboard laminated together with environmentally friendly glue. For maximum strength the flute direction alternates with a horizontal flute sandwiched between 2 verticals. 

The Desktop is removable and therefore can be replaced to refresh the work surface. The desk is 100% made in New Zealand from locally produced cardboard. 

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After initially exploring die cutting, a traditional method of producing cardboard packaging, we quickly found it to be restrictive and didn’t produce the quality we were after. 

Instead we favoured digital fabrication due to its crisp knife cut edges, as well as its potential for customisation and adaptability. 

Digital fabrication means a computer-controlled knife cuts the cardboard from a cut file, which can be changed and adapted at a moments notice. This allows us to produce different height desks, which is important in achieving an ergonomic working height. Not everyone is the same height; so neither are our standing desks. 

Artist collaboration 

Being cardboard, the entire surface is printable, paintable and offers endless opportunities. We see the desk as a blank canvas. To celebrate it, we are establishing a series with New Zealand artists and illustrators. Our first is local Wellington artist – Gwil. 

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We have recently completed a trial run of 50 desks and are now looking to go into production. To help make this happen we have just launched a kickstarter campaign, to find out more go to refold.co.nz 

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UNICEF collaboration Refold is driven by aspirations of giving back and using our designs to 'do some good'. We see these desks as a product to instigate positive change in the schools of those who are less fortunate. 

We have been working with UNICEF New Zealand to help improve education in the Pacific Islands by trialing our desks in schools. We are asking people to help us through our kickstarter campaign with pledge options ‘to make a difference’. 

About us and Our Approach Our formal training is in graphic design, however we don’t like to be constricted by this title. 

We enjoy challenging expectations and solving problems creatively. We believe there is always an alternative option and that we shouldn’t be restricted in our design outputs. 

The desk is a product of this belief. It is us challenging the expectation that 'work' means sitting in front of a computer 9 to 5, 5 days a week. 

From a technical standpoint, we were strongly influenced by packaging design in this particular project. Refold is made up of 3 young designers – Fraser Callaway, Oliver Ward and Matt Innes, based in Wellington, New Zealand. We aspire to use design thinking to become a catalyst for positive change globally. 

TEDxWellington Earlier this year, we spoke at the first TEDxWellington event along with 12 other amazing and inspiring speakers. We talked about going against expectations, creating new ways of working, all while assembling and working at the desk on stage. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ydYeyN-QVY 


This year, the project has received a Red Dot award in Singapore for education and experience design. It also received a Red Dot award in Berlin for social responsibility and experience design. Currently, it is a finalist in the New Zealand Best awards in two categories including sustainable product design.

Designed by: Refold Country: New Zealand