Cardboard Carrier

  • The bottle is made of glass and is heavy.
  • The bottle is tapered at the top — it has a square base but a smaller circular cap at the top.

I: Exploration of Corrugated Cardboard

In order to familiarize myself with the medium, I created several cardboard “corners.” Through this exploration, I was able to experiment with different adhesives and methods of joining pieces together.

Some initial sketches to plan out the construction of the cardboard corners. These helped me visualize what shapes to cut out before physically experimenting.
Five cardboard box corners I made with the purpose of exploring the medium and evaluating methods of adhesion. I will refer to the corners as “Corner #1–5” in which Corner 1 is furthest to the left, Corner 2 is to its adjacent right, and so on.
  • I found Corner 2 to have the most evenly distributed strength among the three edges. Instead of relying on a very thin surface area to attach the edges of the cardboard together, the extended tabs that overlap on top of the adjacent side keep the three pieces well attached. I think I will continue to explore the use of tabs due to, again, the increased surface area where the glue can connect two pieces of cardboard. I think I will explore different shapes of tabs, manipulating length and width, thickness, etc.
  • Corner 5 is probably the least “practical” out of the five corners. To construct it, I cut out two rectangular cardboard pieces (containing 2 6x6 in. squares each) and scored it down the center to define the square shapes. I cut it into 3 “strips” perpendicular to the scored edge (I did this for one square for the 2 rectangular shapes). The “weaving” process was very difficult given the sturdiness and thickness of the cardboard. I had to use a lot of glue to secure the edges of each of the six strips, and the product’s sturdiness (on only one of the three squares of the corner) did not justify the laborious manipulation. However, creating this corner taught me to leave space between each strip and to possibly use a bone folder to bend the areas before trying to weave the cardboard. In all, weaving seemed to serve as more of a decorative element rather than a practical method of joining pieces of cardboard.

II: Creating a Model (“Dummy”) of the Object

Scans of my formal study and the preliminary “plan” for the construction of the dummy.
L: the uneven edge of the cardboard that came with cutting along the flutes. R: using a small model to explore the conical shape of the neck of the bottle.
I realized that the cardboard piece had to resemble a rectangle a lot more since the neck is not very tapered.
Attention to detail: rounded edges of bottle created by multiple score lines
Troubleshooting through the measurement errors I made in creating the neck and cap of the dummy.
The most difficult part: the transition area.
Staged photographs of my dummy + comparing it to my actual object.
  • By making our object out of cardboard, we are understanding the structure of our object better. We are learning how to simplify an object (translation). At the same time, we are learning physical skills — manipulating cardboard.
  • Organizing my peers’ approaches to the same object made me realize how differently they were constructed. (i.e. Donuts: stacked upwards, separate pieces curved inwards, “shell”)
  • The dummy is wider and shorter than my actual bottle. I measured exactly 2.5in. of my cardboard on each side because that was the actual width of the bottle, but I didn’t account for the added width that comes with scoring the cardboard and folding it.
  • I didn’t plan out the “transition” area (between the main wide part of the bottle and the neck) well enough so the result is a shorter bottle. The folding of the cardboard and overall construction of that area is also sloppy and very telling of the lack of planning.
  • In general, I was too focused on what my dummy looked like from the outside, I disregarded the nuances and maintenance of accuracy to my actual object. I also concluded that I spent too much time thinking and not doing — this is a problem I have that is consistent across many projects I want to work on.
  • The thickness of cardboard changes the way I should plan out my cardboard cut-outs, compared to the actual measurements of the object. Because I wasn’t aware of this before creating the dummy, my dummy ended up being a lot larger than intended.
  • Scoring cardboard weakens it and also increases the size of the cardboard piece when bent.

III: Preliminary Models of the Special Carrier

Before I dove into creating sketches of a potential carrier, I considered what makes a carrier a carrier, and what a carrier means for my object.

  • Number of Pieces
  • Ease in construction/Straightforwardness
  • The fit is very snug and it is clear the carrier was constructed for the bottle.
  • Curvatures of bottle are not represented in the form of the carrier.
  • The carrier does not represent the form of the bottle, the bottle is only visible from the top.
  • Gradual “unpacking” of the bottle is interesting
  • Not supportive of weight and height of vinegar bottle, the carrier does not inspire confidence
  • Requires separate pieces to come together — not cohesive
After determining the neck hole as an area of support for the bottle, I cut out tabs to connect the “halfway point.” This obviously won’t sustain the bottle — this led to the use of a slot instead.
After threading the end of the cardboard through the slot I cut out, I realized that the tab needs to be inserted further down the front panel than I anticipated.
I created these square borders intending it to go around the bottle in another model, but I ended up using them as a support in my final model. The rounded square cut out from square pieces creates a wall around the bottle so it doesn’t slide around when the carrier inevitably swings. This is the only place I used an adhesive.
Staged photos with a revised (thinner) handle.
  • The scored tab mechanism works.
  • The bulk of the carrier is constructed out of one piece of cardboard, it is easy to see how it is assembled.
  • The bottle stays in the carrier despite being able to see a lot of it from the side — this is due to the neck cutout and the square support pieces on the bottom.
  • I only used glue for the bottom support part.
  • There is a lot of empty space around all sides of the bottle — this does not inspire confidence. The bottle can also slip out of the bottom “support” structure when held in a certain way.
  • People don’t know how to use the tab immediately, they try to pull it out without regard to the scoreline.
Some exploratory ideas about approaching the handles differently, new curved/angular forms, etc. I still ended up sticking with this general mechanism after positive feedback, but these were legitimate considerations that did not make it past the sketch.

IV: Revision 1

Because I realized the general mechanism and way of constructing Model 3 was pretty effective, I mainly focused on improving the form and aesthetics of this carrier, and how it represents what it contains.

Revision 1 laid next to the preliminary model to determine slot and fold line placement.
A basic overview of my intentions with Revision 1.
Sketches exploring other handle and base possibilities.
I hot glued the modified rings to the long piece of cardboard. This remains the only area that requires adhesive in my carrier. The masking tape is a temporary fix for the area of cardboard I accidentally bent.
I did not plan the cut-outs I made on this model explicitly, but I made sure to consider both the angular and curved aspects of the vinegar bottle in the shapes of the neck hole, handle, and tab.
I was a lot more aware of the essential “carrying” aspect of the carrier after we were encouraged to ask others to hold our carrier.
  • The model showcases the simplicity of the mechanism.
  • The revised stacked base looks more cohesive and less like an afterthought. People also appreciated the support and stability it added.
  • The tab started to deteriorate after a few uses. People also did not know how to remove it (it is almost impossible to understand how it works since the score line is on the opposite side of the front panel) and tried to pull it out “incorrectly” which led to the tab being misused. This hints at unclear visual cues for how the tab functions.
  • Interaction: how to possibly reduce the time and complexity in the process of taking out the bottle.
  • Attempt to remove adhesive from the carrier altogether.

V: Revision 2

I wanted to clarify a lot of my thoughts and takeaways from the previous discussions before jumping into the planning and creating of Model 3, so I created this graphic organizer outlining the three core mechanisms I should pay attention to: the opening, carrying, and security mechanism.

Left + Middle: I explored using a protruding piece from the “front wall” and a slot on the handle. The cardboard is not sturdy enough/ is unable to maintain its structural integrity with this setup. RIght: I came up with this sliding mechanism accidentally, but couldn’t find a way to secure it so that the tab stays without budging. I thought it was interesting that by pulling the top and bottom of the “wall,” it tightens the tab.
This tab works a lot better (in the prototype, at least). The fit is snug and it gives the user confidence in its security. When done at this smaller scale, the true force of the weight of the bottle on the slot, and the angles that the handles are subject to moving in, is not represented. On the right, I considered using just a square window as the slots for the tab. Although it is just as secure as the slots, my peers commented that it gives them less confidence in the security of the tab.
  • I found an effective way to integrate the stacked base with the front and back walls of the carrier — they all are made of the same piece of cardboard.
  • The wings of the handles get stuck in the slot, slowing down the interaction and opening mechanism.
  • Some of my peers commented that the immediate part of the handle that comes out from the back panel’s slot looks like a thong.
  • Stacked Base: try another way to keep them together without adhesive. Probably ditch idea that back panel has to connect with bottom.
  • Adjust fit/proximity of the front wall to bottle so tab can fit comfortably. I also wanted to bring back the slightly slanted walls for visual interest because I think my last model looked too straight up-and-down.
  • Refine the shapes of the handles and cut-outs so the users only think about the carrier and are not reminded of extraneous things.

VI: Revision 3

Since the most pressing issue in my previous model is the lack of security in the tab, I decided to prototype different tab and window options before I cut them out from my model.

Documentation of how the tab, slot, and window evolved over these past two models.
I measured my tab/window against this model, measured it against the label placement on the bottle, traced it, and cut it out.
  • The assembly of the stacked base is lengthy, longer than 3–5 minutes.
  • The distance between the top of the bottle is very close to the handle. I anticipate it is even more uncomfortable for people with larger hands.
  • I have to figure out another way to keep the stacked base together through a faster assembly method.
  • I should make the interaction as simple as possible by reconsidering the handle comfort (wings — remove?)

VII: Revision 4

Based on the feedback I received from the last discussion, there weren’t any immediate changes I could implement. I decided to sketch out possible mechanisms and possibilities to address these problems:

L: using a thick piece of cardboard and bigger slots. This was the easiest to assemble, but it was not super supportive. M: trying to find ways to fold over the stakes so that the stake is more secure in the slot. I ended up ditching this idea in favor of a more secure slot system. R: I realized I could flatten out the stake and in effect, create a much thinner slot — this resulted in the most secure yet relatively-easy to assemble method of securing the platform base.
Because I knew I wasn’t showing this model in discussion, I felt more freedom to draw all over the model to make notes for myself for my final interation.


  • Simplifying cutouts even more.
  • Streamline the modified back panel slot.
From L → R: Model 4, Model 5, and Final Model in progress. Active comparison was made in the process of creating all these iterations.
I paid more attention to craftsmanship in this final carrier, but looking back, being more aware of this throughout the iterative process would have led to a cleaner final result. L: “Furry edges of cut-outs. R: Paying more attention to the spacing between each fold line in the handle. I used my small ruler as a point of reference.
The evolution of my special carrier (Model 1~Final).
Detail shots — L: Stacked base held together by two corners. R: Tab threading through modified slot.
Close up of the tab mechanism.
Opening the carrier to take out the bottle.
Placing the bottle back into the carrier.



Carnegie Mellon Design + HCI ‘23

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