Digital Prototyping for Architecture

A2| Laser cutting – Transforming Stool

Pilar Aguirre, Sinéad Nicholson, Qiao Liang


To design and build a human scale piece of furniture from 3mm cardboard using the laser cutter as means of fabrication.

Concept & Design

We wanted to explore the transformation capacity of cardboard while still incorporating it’s properties into the design –

  • Since it had to support a human, we needed to use the cardboard along it’s vertical axis, where it is most strong.
  • Maintain it’s ‘flat-pack’ ability

Ideas explored by Nintendo Labo, and the designs of David Graas and Carlo Ratti helped develop our concept.



The resultant design consisted of many layers to give stability and 3 nodes around which the piece could move. After some experimentation we were able to create a ‘system’ of 8 pieces which was repeated many times over

Design sketches

Testing the transformation ability

Cutting & Assembly 

Once the correct settings were worked out for our cut, the laser cutter was put to work. Working from our 3D model made in Rhino we followed the order of assembly closely to make sure the stool would be able to move. Besides a few paper cuts, assembly was relatively easy!

Final Prototype

The stool we created was stable and transformable, and could be used as furniture in both it’s variations. It would be interesting to apply this design to other materials and fabrication methods to create a more durable and even more transformable piece of furniture.