Green talks_by ECOWEEK & | Panos Sakkas podcast recap

Tα Green Talks is a new series of Podcasts by ECOWEEK and Design Ambassador. This new series of Podcasts co-hosted by Vassilios Bartzokas creator of ARCHISEARCH.GR & the DESIGN AMBASSADOR, and architect Elias Messinas creator of ECOWEEK. The duo interviews leading Architecture and Design personalities who share their experience and how they connect Design, Sustainability and Innovation in their work.

In this episode, Panos Sakkas is invited. He is an architect and co-founder of the studio The New Raw, together with Foteini Setaki. The New Raw is a research and design studio based in Rotterdam (Netherlands) founded in 2015 by architects Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki with the ambition to give new life to discarded materials through design, robots and craftsmanship. The New Raw has developed a growing body of work which advocates for a sustainable use of plastic to spring a positive environmental and societal impact. New Raw projects range from experimentation with hyperlocal fabrication, from decentralized production to participatory design methodologies on circular economy systems, to exploratory research on city (‘Print Your City Amsterdam’) and marine plastic pollution as developed for Second Nature (which recently won the 2020 Rossana Orlandi Plastic Prize) should add that you developed for these projects a series of customizable furniture that could be adjusted by citizens via an online platform in order to engage them in the recycling of plastic. New Raw is a relatively new firm but really promising, catching the attention of media and publications. The New Raw has been featured in international books, including “Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure” by Katie Treggiden and has received media coverage by Dezeen, Domus, Wired, Financial Times, Design Milk, Fortune, Mashable, Fast Company, ELLE Decoration, Architectural Digest, De Morgen and many more. The New Raw’s projects have taken part in numerous international exhibitions and venues, among others: Design Museum in Moscow (RU), Caixa Forum in Barcelona (ES), Museum De Domijnen (NL), Salone Del Mobile (IT), Aikaterini Laskaridi Foundation (GR), Amsterdam Gemeente (NL), Foundation Telefonica, Madrid (ES), Onassis Cultural Center, Athens (GR), Framelab Amsterdam (NL), Gdynia Design Days (PL), Centquatre (FR) and many more. The New Raw has been awarded with several international prizes such as Dezeen Awards 2021 / seating category – public vote winner Rossana Orlandi Plastic Prize, Fast Company Award, Kaldewei Future Design Award, Energy Globe Award Greece and Hans Sauer Award and others.

Print Your City! -3D printing in the Circular City- from The New Raw on Vimeo.

He didn’t follow the “main path” of Architecture and started The New Raw together with Foteini Setaki “At first it was an idea that merged sustainable making and digital fabrication into one thing. The first thing we did, was organizing a workshop in 2015, in Syros that we called it “the new raw”. It was summarizing our principles and values“.


About the process, the methodology they follow about harvesting raw material -e.g. plastics in the sea and how it is turned into raw material for 3D printing- and the connection between digital craftsmanship, robotic manufacturing and circular practices he says “We started as a design studio, but on the way we had to develop in a certain way our own production tools, in order to be able to produce what we wanted to design. We are not a company that make a new tool, we are developing a methodology and we are trying to explore the possibilities and the limits of the material. Our material is strictly plastic waste, because this is actually why we are using technology, to turn waste into something that has meaning, value. Material research is important for us. After that it’s controlling and mastering the material, we try to you as much as possible recycled content. We combine our design methodology and thinking with the design process“. 


Talking about young architects that would be interested in following the same path and the skills they need to develop that the architecture school don’t teach: “Universities can give you methodologies, values, very important staff, but reality is there and is going to hit you like a wall. They way of thinking, the skills that you can acquire with workshops, trips, as well as soft skills such as communication, marketing, composition of different disciplines are also very important. Good studies are important, but I think you never stop learning“. 


Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki have two favorite projects, “Print your city” and “Second nature“: “Print your city is a project that actually is our vision. It is about the idea that cities in the future could just build the public space and furniture using their plastic waste with the participation of the community and the citizens. This is actually the first idea that helped us to start working on bigger 3D printing. We managed to apply this in Thessaloniki in 2018, we made an experience center for plastic waste circular economy, and we also had our fabrication and production facility. At the end the most popular solutions were actually produced and printed with their plastic waste and are actually placed in XANTH square, in the center of the city. Second nature is also a very important project, it connects us with Greece. This was a project about marine litter, fishing nets that stay stuck or forgotten in the sea, and continue passively grabbing fish or other organisms and at the same time being a valuable resource. We did video in the beginning to show this whole cycle, organizations, communities, initiatives, that they go and they dive into the bottom of the sea and collect waste, and are a big threat for the marine life. Then we show how we could actually make it into something printed. We printed some artifacts, some statement pieces, Mediterranean, endangered seashells. This was a personal project, it didn’t have a plan of commercial continuation, but its impact was bigger than we expected. Actually this is what we are looking for“. 


What they look for in a portfolio and in a young architect is: “Our team has many different roles. Something universal is a person that can fit with the rest of the team. It is important to be easy to communicate and share the same values. Skills are also important, but a team operates well when everybody can work together and not just be the best without being the best in the context of the team. The interviews and the way people answer have a lot of value. Portfolios are important, but it’s just the first step to make you stand out. After that, you have to be really convincing“. 

Listen to the whole episode with Panos Sakkas here

You can find all the episodes of the Green Talks series here