words Mat Osman
720 sheets of cardboard shaped with a computer-controlled cutter and then stacked on top of each other make up the Mafoombey portable listening booth.
Finnish designers Esa Ruskeepää, Martti Kalliala and Martin Lukasczyk came together to enter a 2005 Helsinki University competition to design a small space – no more than 2.5 cubic metres – for listening to music. “We knew we wanted a free-form space within a cube, something primitive and cave-like,” says Ruskeepää. They experimented with a variety of materials, originally using recycled carpets, but settled on 7mm thick sheets of corrugated cardboard. “It’s cheap, it’s light and the acoustics are great,” Ruskeepää adds.
The interior space – one sinuous surface that encloses seating, lighting, surround speakers and a CD player – was modelled in clay and then mapped out on the team’s home computer. Finnish paper manufacturers Stora Enso sponsored the project and let the team use its computer-controlled paper cutter – more commonly used for making packaging prototypes – to manufacture the cardboard sheets. The sheets are anchored by hollow cardboard tubes in two corners, and the construction is held together by its own weight.
Also shortlisted for the Forum prize for best Nordic building, the project is currently on display at the Lahti University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki.