In the raw

Introducing the award-winning zero-waste Ermis chair

Circular economy design pioneers The New Raw are known for their design ethos, which aims to give new life to discarded materials through craftsmanship using industrial-sized 3D printers. 

The design duo, Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki, was confronted with a challenge – what to do with all the waste generated in their new Rotterdam studio in The Netherlands? They began a journey to find a solution that led them to create their 3D-printed, limited-edition chair series, which scooped the public vote award for seating design at the Dezeen Awards 2021. 

Ermis chairs are made by combining batches of different coloured plastic waste. The unexpected colours and gradients that result from the process give each chair its own identity, which is a cool mix of minimalism and ergonomics. 

Ermis (or Hermes) was the herald of the gods in ancient Greek mythology and the small wings on the edge of his sandals were his trademark. They’re also the reference that gives the chair its name. “The gradual ‘opening’ of its printing layers, which are all slightly rotated from each other, and the folding of the geometry at the top, are the details that define the character of the chair,” Sakkas and Setaki explain.

The chairs are constructed with a single plastic spiral thread that automatically creates a set of elegant, smooth curves. Rotating the thread slightly creates a texture on the outdoor lounge chair's surface. The chair has a strong graphic identity due to the layered texture of its manufacturing process. 

"We embrace challenges that come from this demanding material source. In our designs, glitches become textures, and plastic objects get a soul through their imperfections," Sakkas and Setaki say. The combination of contrasting elements like unstable waste material and a precise robotic process result in unexpected outcomes that add some ‘bling’ to the waste and shape the designs in unique ways, they add. 

Sakkas and Setaki say they design and make products with the intention to last in time through beauty, sustainability, and craftsmanship. But they add that sustainable design means more than just a product made from recycled materials: “The adhesives and resins and additional finishing and coatings in traditional furniture manufacturing make recycling difficult. One of the ways The New Raw addresses this is by using ‘mono-material design’. Products made with this methodology can be recycled and used as raw materials for another product or project,” they point out.

This function was tested with their Ermis chair series, which is made with 100% recyclable plastic that has been recycled twice. 

“Using discarded materials is essential to our work, as we intend to have a social impact through our practice,” state Sakkas and Setaki. With plans for new projects that combine “community giving”, with solutions for retail, interiors and public space equipment, we’re looking forward to seeing what design innovations The New Raw has in store.

Read more:

antenna 2021 graduate Benjamin Bichsel tackles plastic clothing waste.

South African student tackles plastic waste with edible straws.

Sustainable bricks made from recycled sand and plastic waste.


Credits: The New Raw