After watching street drummers improvise on cardboard boxes, France-based designer and musician Patrick Obadia had an idea. Could a full drum kit, designed from scratch with cardboard, make drumming more accessible to everyone?
Obadia knew that drum teachers sometimes recommend that students practice at home on boxes, when they don’t have their own gear.
“We realized that cardboard has plenty of great characteristics,” says Caroline Cullière, one of the co-founders of Obilab, a startup now making the drum kit. “It has a great natural acoustic, and it is an affordable material that can be produced worldwide.”
A standard kit can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but the fully-functional kit from Obilab is on Kickstarter for €119 or about $134. Unlike a typical drum kit, it’s also lightweight and portable; everything packs neatly into the largest box, which turns into a backpack and can be used as a stool or hand drum when you arrive somewhere else.
The rest of the kit includes a kick drum and pedal, a tom, a snare, a hi-hat or shaker, and a pair of bamboo drumsticks. Each of the drums is topped with fiberglass to make it sturdy enough to actually play.
“The biggest challenge was definitely its resistance in order to secure a viable and long-term sturdiness,” says Cullière. “The parts where drummers can hit hard have been reinforced with fiberglass in order to make it strong and ‘beat proof.'”
Played on its own, the kit is much quieter than normal drums. But at a show, a drummer can add a mic. An optional electronic module, linked to sensors on each drum, can be used to practice with headphones (with the drum silent) or hooked up to amps.
For the designers, the kit–which also comes in a kid-sized version–is mostly meant to help more people have access to an instrument they might not have been able to afford otherwise. But they point out that it’s also better for the environment than a standard drum kit, using less material than can be easily transported with a smaller carbon footprint. And if the drum kit wears out, you can put most of it in the recycling bin.