Paper Shaper makes furniture out of cardboards for a sustainable future

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Paper Shaper, a Mumbai-based corrugated cardboard manufacturing firm, is offering an alternate and sustainable solution to wooden and furniture made of other materials. It is the brainchild of Haresh Mehta.

From cradle to coffin and in between, chairs, tables, beds, storages surround us—either built from wood or from the combination of wood, plastic, and metal. Every year, with the growing population, millions of trees are fell to make furniture. However, forests can no longer meet this increasing demand and such heavy deforestation is detrimental to the environment. Though plastic furniture is a substitute for wood, the cost to the environment is much more. There is a need for alternative solutions that are sustainable and eco-friendly and cater well to our requirements.

Trying to find an alternative material that meets all the requirements of wooden furniture and at the same time is eco-friendly, Mumbai-based Haresh Mehta came up with Paper Shaper. Under this brand name, he designs and manufactures furniture made out of corrugated cardboard. This furniture is portable, durable, easy to assemble and store, recyclable, and costs less in comparison to furniture made of any other material.

From a college dropout to an innovator

Haresh (64) hails from a Gujarati family that runs a packaging business. For the young Haresh, making money out of his family business did not hold as much appeal as sitting in a corner of his factory to twist, cut and assemble cardboard sheets into different shapes. Being a college dropout had marked Haresh as a failure for those around him, but all the while, there was an idea germinating in his mind. He followed it with total commitment and eventually came up with ‘Paper Shaper’. Haresh completely believes in having faith in one’s passion and calls himself a rebel who refuses conventionality.

From cradle to coffin and everything in-between

The furniture designed by Haresh is apt for an urban life as it is durable, lightweight, portable, and trendy. When not in use, one can just dismantle it and store it without wasting much space. The range of cardboard furniture covers cradles, chairs, storages, organisers, and even coffins. These coffins make it possible for a person to leave this world in an eco-friendly way as the boxes decompose faster than the wooden ones. At the same time, using cardboard furniture can significantly reduce the cutting of trees.

I have been toying with the idea for nearly 25 years, but the decision to launch the brand Paper Shaper online in May 2017 is relatively new. It was hard to convince people that corrugated furniture is sturdy and durable as the storage boxes they see in grocery stores are flimsy. I made a rocking chair out of the boxes and made people sit on it to alter their perception about cardboard furniture, says Haresh Mehta.

Paper Shaper is a bootstrapped company. The product price range starts at Rs 3,000 and the furniture is delivered globally. The company expects to have a revenue base of Rs 30-40 crore in the coming five years. To market the niche idea of cardboard furniture, Haresh has launched a range of children's furniture online. While the wooden furniture available in the market is bulky with sharp edges, cardboard furniture is light and safe for children. It can also lead them to fun activities as they can assemble their own furniture, thus attaining a sense of belonging to it. In addition, they also get to shift their furniture according to their convenience.

The portable eco-friendly Loo Box

Sanitation is a huge problem in our country. While travelling long distances, finding a place to attend to nature’s call is a big deal. The roadside toilets are also stinky and unhygienic. To solve this problem, Haresh has invented a portable toilet with corrugated cardboard. These toilets are lightweight, portable, easy to use, and at the same time eco-friendly.

The Loo Box is a solution to the problem of sanitation in India. It is also made of corrugated cardboard like all other furniture designed by me. It is lightweight, and can be folded and carried easily. Every aspect of this concept has been designed keeping the environment in mind. It can be handy for travellers and elderly at home, adds Haresh.

His innovative designs have earned him recognition and few of his clients include big brands like Camlin, Philips, Bajaj, Raymond, Gini & Jony. Through Paper Shaper, Haresh wants to cater to a wider market, given that his company is popular only in Mumbai. With more innovation and a wider category of items, he wishes to help people adopt sustainable furniture solutions.