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The New Raw

BIRKENSTOCK INTERVIEWS:

THE NEW RAW

BIRKENSTOCK INTERVIEWS:

THE NEW RAW

Collaboration BIRKENSTOCK and The New Raw

Collaboration BIRKENSTOCK and The New Raw

For our vegan collection, we incorporated The New Raw's 100% vegan furniture into the campaign shoot. With similar core values of longevity and innovation in focus, the designers caught BIRKENSTOCK's interest and are the first guests in our BIRKENSTOCK Interviews series.

For our vegan collection, we incorporated The New Raw's 100% vegan furniture into the campaign shoot. With similar core values of longevity and innovation in focus, the designers caught BIRKENSTOCK's interest and are the first guests in our BIRKENSTOCK Interviews series.

The New Raw = a new raw material? The New Raw = a new raw material?

Inspired by the mentality and consumption patterns of their grandparents, the architects Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas founded their research & design studio The New Raw in Rotterdam in 2015. As the company name suggests, their concept focuses on a new (old) raw material: plastic – from cities and from the sea. The waste is used as a new resource to show a positive use for the existing problem of plastic waste. From the waste they produce furniture for public places and parks in collaboration with cities all over Europe.

All the processes of The New Raw deal with the aspect of circular design: the production processes are regenerative and follow a zero-waste approach, so only recycled plastic is used, no additional waste is produced and the product can also be recycled. Using the latest technology, the "new raw material" is thus turned into furniture by means of a 3D printer, decorating public spaces and reminding city dwellers of the importance of conscious consumption.

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "The spark to start The New Raw came from the realization that we consume a lot of resources. We are both Greek and love to go on vacation to remote beaches and hidden places. Finding plastic waste in these places was really frustrating. It made us realize that plastic waste is mainly caused by design failure. Since we're both architects, we wanted to show a better way to deal with this material, and at the same time, we wanted to turn an existing problem into a positive production process."

Inspired by the mentality and consumption patterns of their grandparents, the architects Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas founded their research & design studio The New Raw in Rotterdam in 2015. As the company name suggests, their concept focuses on a new (old) raw material: plastic – from cities and from the sea. The waste is used as a new resource to show a positive use for the existing problem of plastic waste. From the waste they produce furniture for public places and parks in collaboration with cities all over Europe.

All the processes of The New Raw deal with the aspect of circular design: the production processes are regenerative and follow a zero-waste approach, so only recycled plastic is used, no additional waste is produced and the product can also be recycled. Using the latest technology, the "new raw material" is thus turned into furniture by means of a 3D printer, decorating public spaces and reminding city dwellers of the importance of conscious consumption.

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "The spark to start The New Raw came from the realization that we consume a lot of resources. We are both Greek and love to go on vacation to remote beaches and hidden places. Finding plastic waste in these places was really frustrating. It made us realize that plastic waste is mainly caused by design failure. Since we're both architects, we wanted to show a better way to deal with this material, and at the same time, we wanted to turn an existing problem into a positive production process."

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas
The Pots Plus: focus on longevity The Pots Plus: focus on longevity

With their eye-catching design, the Pots Plus outdoor seating furniture adorn public places across Europe and at the same time aim to reach people's awareness regarding relevant environmental issues. This is because the materiality of the products remedies an existing problem in precisely this area. However, Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas consider another aspect to be just as important as the use of the relevant raw materials when designing their products: longevity. Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "Not only the material used, but also the properties of the product itself are our focus. Consuming durable products is the first step in the right direction towards a conscious lifestyle."

The designers see well-being as a holistic concept, and with the Pots Plus they not only want to do something good for the environment in the long term, but also offer users a positive and concrete experience in urban locations. To this end, they are designed in a special ergonomic shape and feature friendly add-ons such as holders for plants or integrated dog bowls..

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "When you use innovative techniques, you also discover new shapes and possibilities in the production of elements. Instead of the standard furniture shapes, we wanted to offer people the possibility to discover new postures and positions in the context of a small city break. The ergonomic and organic design also naturally creates a friendly vibe. The multi-layered look is additionally meant to make people look at the materiality and the production process."

With their eye-catching design, the Pots Plus outdoor seating furniture adorn public places across Europe and at the same time aim to reach people's awareness regarding relevant environmental issues. This is because the materiality of the products remedies an existing problem in precisely this area. However, Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas consider another aspect to be just as important as the use of the relevant raw materials when designing their products: longevity. Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "Not only the material used, but also the properties of the product itself are our focus. Consuming durable products is the first step in the right direction towards a conscious lifestyle."

The designers see well-being as a holistic concept, and with the Pots Plus they not only want to do something good for the environment in the long term, but also offer users a positive and concrete experience in urban locations. To this end, they are designed in a special ergonomic shape and feature friendly add-ons such as holders for plants or integrated dog bowls..

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "When you use innovative techniques, you also discover new shapes and possibilities in the production of elements. Instead of the standard furniture shapes, we wanted to offer people the possibility to discover new postures and positions in the context of a small city break. The ergonomic and organic design also naturally creates a friendly vibe. The multi-layered look is additionally meant to make people look at the materiality and the production process."

The Pots Plus
The Pots Plus

What do Panos and Foteini have to say about the statement: function over form?

What do Panos and Foteini have to say about the statement: function over form?

The New Raw's products are characterized by materiality and longevity. But do the two architects see this as superior to the unique design of their products?

Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki: "Beauty is a vehicle for circularity. Especially when you want to add a certain storytelling to your product, it affects the design. It should then be more pluralistic, minimalism is then actually abandoned. Functionality is of course more important to us per se, but in order to spread it, you have to create aesthetically pleasing designs. We make products that last – we design them to be stable for many years in good and bad weather, and also beautiful. For example, the colors won't be damaged by sunlight."

The New Raw's products are characterized by materiality and longevity. But do the two architects see this as superior to the unique design of their products?

Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki: "Beauty is a vehicle for circularity. Especially when you want to add a certain storytelling to your product, it affects the design. It should then be more pluralistic, minimalism is then actually abandoned. Functionality is of course more important to us per se, but in order to spread it, you have to create aesthetically pleasing designs. We make products that last – we design them to be stable for many years in good and bad weather, and also beautiful. For example, the colors won't be damaged by sunlight."

From Circular Design to Circular Living From Circular Design to Circular Living

A conscious lifestyle and thoughtful consumer behavior are at the heart of The New Raw and are obviously also close to Panos' and Foteini's hearts in their private lives. But what exactly is still important to the two architects when it comes to integrating Circular Living into their everyday lives?

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "We have a holistic approach when it comes to a conscious lifestyle. People should go for products that are made with love, durable and of high quality. In general, every purchasing decision should be made thoughtfully."

Of course, this influences all areas of consumption. They themselves like to go to the farmer's market or to local farmers and also bring along their own reusable shopping bags.

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "We also pay attention to quality when it comes to clothing, because we want products that will be our companions for several years." Accordingly, vintage shopping and second-hand fashion are also a good alternative for the two designers. For a few years already, Foteini Setaki has only been using natural cosmetic products to protect the environment, but also her own skin. As far as getting around in everyday life is concerned, the two always try to use their bicycles. With their current home base in the Netherlands, this is not a problem at all.

A conscious lifestyle and thoughtful consumer behavior are at the heart of The New Raw and are obviously also close to Panos' and Foteini's hearts in their private lives. But what exactly is still important to the two architects when it comes to integrating Circular Living into their everyday lives?

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "We have a holistic approach when it comes to a conscious lifestyle. People should go for products that are made with love, durable and of high quality. In general, every purchasing decision should be made thoughtfully."

Of course, this influences all areas of consumption. They themselves like to go to the farmer's market or to local farmers and also bring along their own reusable shopping bags.

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "We also pay attention to quality when it comes to clothing, because we want products that will be our companions for several years." Accordingly, vintage shopping and second-hand fashion are also a good alternative for the two designers. For a few years already, Foteini Setaki has only been using natural cosmetic products to protect the environment, but also her own skin. As far as getting around in everyday life is concerned, the two always try to use their bicycles. With their current home base in the Netherlands, this is not a problem at all.

The Pots Plus
Societal impact as the main motivation Societal impact as the main motivation

The main motivation of Panos and Foteini was and is to create awareness regarding consumption patterns.

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "The creation of societal awareness was the primary motivation for us. We wanted to convey that existing raw materials can be used in a better way. When we started in 2015, the problem of plastic waste was already being discussed, but there were few solutions at the time. So we felt we needed to educate people about the problem by showing better ways to recycle the material."

To follow their primary motivation, their products are always part of a social project, for which they collaborate with cities, municipalities or other public institutions. Together with Coca-Cola, they opened the Zero Waste Lab in their home country in Thessaloniki. Here, citizens were invited to bring their own plastic waste and learn about the principles of the circular economy. Of course, they were also given the opportunity to actively help design the city's new furniture.

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "We noticed that all visitors were excited about experiencing the production process transparently. Because everyone talks about recycling, but in public we often don't know what happens when we dispose of plastic waste in the garbage can. We could see that the same people kept coming and bringing their families and friends to show them what we do in the lab. It was heartwarming as some school children came back after a school excursion on the weekend to show what they experienced to their parents. It was so nice to see how inspired people were as they gave us so many great ideas for future projects." In keeping with the spirit of circularity, visitors of the Lab also inspired the two architects with their ideas for their future projects.

The main motivation of Panos and Foteini was and is to create awareness regarding consumption patterns.

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "The creation of societal awareness was the primary motivation for us. We wanted to convey that existing raw materials can be used in a better way. When we started in 2015, the problem of plastic waste was already being discussed, but there were few solutions at the time. So we felt we needed to educate people about the problem by showing better ways to recycle the material."

To follow their primary motivation, their products are always part of a social project, for which they collaborate with cities, municipalities or other public institutions. Together with Coca-Cola, they opened the Zero Waste Lab in their home country in Thessaloniki. Here, citizens were invited to bring their own plastic waste and learn about the principles of the circular economy. Of course, they were also given the opportunity to actively help design the city's new furniture.

Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas: "We noticed that all visitors were excited about experiencing the production process transparently. Because everyone talks about recycling, but in public we often don't know what happens when we dispose of plastic waste in the garbage can. We could see that the same people kept coming and bringing their families and friends to show them what we do in the lab. It was heartwarming as some school children came back after a school excursion on the weekend to show what they experienced to their parents. It was so nice to see how inspired people were as they gave us so many great ideas for future projects." In keeping with the spirit of circularity, visitors of the Lab also inspired the two architects with their ideas for their future projects.

Project Coca-Cola in Greece
Project Coca-Cola in Greece
Project Coca-Cola in Greece