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Cardborigami foldable shelters move closer to launch

May 21, 2012 | 11:39 am

CardborigamiSometimes it takes an eye-catching design to bring attention to society’s most pressing issues. At least that’s the idea behind Cardborigami, a temporary, portable and recyclable shelter made by an L.A. nonprofit hoping to serve the city’s 51,000 homeless people.

“I thought making something more lighthearted and kind of fun and playful would make [homelessness] easier to deal with and get people involved who wouldn’t normally be,” said Cardborigami designer Tina Hovsepian, pictured at right. She showcased her work at the recent Altbuild show as well as last year's Dwell on Design show, and she recently said she plans to launch the product later this year.

The Cardborigami shelters have been prototyped in a Mondrian-esque design as well as traditional cardboard brown. Though Cardborigami was originally designed to help the homeless, just 38% of whom have access to a shelter, Cardborigami "can be used for so many different things,” said Hovsepian, 25, who works at the Venice firm Duvivier Architects. She said she intends to sell Cardborigami as an educational toy and possibly as an alternative tent for camping or as disaster preparedness equipment.

Cardborigami is 4 feet wide, 6 feet long and 3 feet tall when open. The cardboard is treated with flame retardant and is also water-resistant, but the structures, which cost about $20 to make, “are not completely waterproof or indestructible,” Hovsepian said.

Hovsepian was inspired to create the collapsible structures while studying at the USC School of Architecture. In 2007 she was asked to redesign an Airstream trailer, a school assignment that was “very open ended," she said. "I decided I wanted to help the homeless since I live in L.A., and it’s always been an interest of mine.”

Hovsepian plans to launch Cardborigami to raise money for her nonprofit of the same name. She wants to partner with the nonprofit Volunteers of America to create a pilot program that would provide Cardborigami to homeless people in downtown L.A. and even employ them to help make the structures, so they can support themselves and get off the streets.


Woodbury shed cabinsStudents turn sheds into mini cabins

Guerrilla knitters help homeless center

The Downtown Women's Center store, Made

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo provided by Tina Hovsepian