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Need a cheap desk to work from home? Try this one made of cardboard

It’s $85, and it’s called the StayTheF***Home Desk for a reason.

Now that so many Americans are working from home in response to COVID-19, our living space has become our workspace. That wouldn’t be so tricky if we weren’t also sharing the apartment with toddlers, pets, and spouses. It’s a good time to work out a temporary plan that’s better than the couch, but where do we go to get a cheap desk when even Ikea is closed?

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The Danish furniture company Stykka will ship you a desk for $85 that you can build in less than 10 minutes. Why is it so cheap? Because it’s made from cardboard.

[Photo: courtesy Stykka]

Stykka’s primary business is in building custom office furniture for corporations and student housing, which it fabricates by using laser cutters to slice through sustainable wood. Since March 12, however, the Stykka team has been working from home like many of us, elbowing their families for room. That’s when they realized there was an opportunity to design a desk that would get office professionals through the home quarantine. They call it the StayTheF***Home Desk.

“We wanted to design a product that was affordable, shippable flat-packed, and most important recyclable, while also easy to order from a web shop,” says Rasmus Taun, head of brand and marketing at Stykka. “We chose cardboard because it’s super cheap, made from recycled fibers, and once the curfew is over you just throw it into your cardboard recycling bin, which is standard for all Danish households, and it will be made into new cardboard, so it’s beautifully circular as well.”

[Photo: courtesy Stykka]

The team decided to use just three materials: cardboard, zip-ties, and its laser cutter. After five iterations, they developed the desk you see here—what Taun calls a “triple cardboard sandwich.” It’s sturdy thanks to the repeated folding of the same piece of paper, and balanced by triangular legs that make a lot of surface area contact with the floor compared to a standard skinny table leg. The boards come pre-perforated to make them easy to fold and the bundled zip-ties just require a bit of threading to hold it all together. What you end up with is a desk that you probably wouldn’t want to sit on, but it can hold a laptop, keyboard, plants, and even a desk lamp in Stykka’s testing.

While the desk is available for $85 on Stykka’s site (in brown or white!), the company is also open-sourcing its design so that anyone can download it to build their own free of charge. So does that mean we finally have something to do with this pile of Amazon delivery boxes in our living rooms? (Spoiler: probably not.) “Our cardboard is specially made for us out of recycled fibers and it’s 7 millimeters thick. The piece [of cardboard] needs to be large enough for you to fold the top piece three times,” Taun says, adding, “you could always download it and redesign it to whatever cardboard you have at hand.”

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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