Graypants: Swoon-Worthy Recycled Cardboard Lighting


One of my favorite events in design school was USU Design Star, a competition in which teams have one hour to build a light fixture out of various recycled materials. (my team came up with a fixture wrapped in bubble wrap with clear stones in each bubble; we won people’s choice). The event made us think about everyday materials in completely new ways. That is something that an imaginative industrial design (and now architecture) firm in Seattle and Amsterdam does every day.

Graypants was founded by two architects focused on “responsible design, responsible materials, responsible production… and having fun.” That motto shows through all of their products, especially their Scraplights: light fixtures made out of recycled cardboard. Their outside the box thinking (no pun intended) and almost religious attention to detail have led to something really special. The texture of the cardboard allows just the right amount of light to peek through the sides, and the rough material juxtaposes the precise and refined shapes to make this perfect in contemporary, boho, or classic spaces.

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I love that these lights are not only environmentally sustainable, they’re also socially responsible. Graypants partners with social work programs in Holland and the Pacific Northwest that employ people in craft-based tasks who might otherwise have a difficult time finding work. The cardboard layers of each light are laser cut, then assembled by hand using a nontoxic adhesive, and finally treated with an environmentally friendly fire retardant.


Lighting is one of the most important features in a room. You can control the entire mood of a space with the temperature, amount, and location of light. There are different types of lighting you can layer to get the right feel, and accent lighting like these Scraplights make a big statement. Take a look at the moody scenes below. I am obsessing over the installation in this little cafe called The Store. The Scraplights add depth to the scene through both their physical presence and their soft lighting. The variation in the pattern of the cardboard is such a little detail, but it really makes the whole piece so much more interesting.

Talde Jersey City  | Image copyright: Christopher Amaral Photography

Talde Jersey City | Image copyright: Christopher Amaral Photography

Graypants also came out with Frame Series: a second series of larger lights with gorgeous dark steel frames and sandblasted tempered glass diffusers, and I'm legit making plans to get a few of these for my dining area!


PS if natural isn't quite your speed, they come in white!

All photos used with permission from Graypants