Sustainable development and the circular economy will play a central role in the achievement of the goals of the European Green Deal. In this context, SUSDESIGN – a creative and research studio specialising in design for sustainability – developed a strategic vision and an original concept for the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The furniture in the social areas of its headquarters in the Centro Cultural de Belém was designed and produced using organic material coming from the maintenance and clearing of national woods and forests, as well as cork and wood from industrial waste.
The proposals developed are aimed at showing the potential of a green, innovative and sustainable Portugal, through a set of solutions, spaces and equipment, framed in the following goals:
- Integration of circular design solutions, criteria and strategies, in line with the central commitments of European policies – achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
- Use of eco-efficient production processes, renewable and recyclable national raw materials and transforming them though digital production technologies in conjunction with national industry.
- Tacit representation of elements of tangible Portuguese culture and its visual images and symbols, applied to new languages in contemporary Portuguese furniture design.
- Optimisation of spaces designed in terms of function and comfort so that they can be properly suited to their main diplomatic functions.
PPUE 2021 Commemorative Items
The concepts of sustainable design developed by the SUSDESIGN team are expressed in the PPUE 2021 Commemorative Items and in their integration into the foyers at the headquarters of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Ana Mestre, creative director at SUSDESIGN, explained that she wanted to pay tribute to the wealth and diversity of Portuguese forests, while at the same time adopting circular economy strategies.
The basis for this concept is the collection of organic matter from the maintenance and clearing of national woods and forests — particularly leaves and wood found on the forest floor — and transforming them through shaping and cutting using digital production technologies.
The PPEU 2021 Chair, the main item in the commemorative collection, includes — apart from the aforementioned biomaterials — cork from the national cork oak forest and pine wood, both materials coming from reutilisation and industrial symbiosis processes: the former from national industrial waste from cork stoppers and the latter from recycling and upcycling end-of-life pallets from the wood industry.
The result is a chair with an unexpected design, which is part of an empirical hypothesis as to what the design of the future will be, characterised by a palette of colours and textures from national forests and where the different perfumes of the biomaterials they are made from can be scented.
Some of the assumptions highlighted by Ana Mestre in the proposal for the design of the PPEU 2021 Chair and its integration into the spaces in the headquarters of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU include:
- Sustainable and aesthetically distinctive design, incorporating references to parts of Portuguese culture and the values of the European Green Deal.
- Functional and differentiating design for a collection of individual chairs with a multifunctional side support, designed to respect social distancing conditions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Modular design that can be customised, providing for flexibility of use, ease of assembly and dismantling and that is easy to transport.
- Sophisticated, elegant design that gives the social areas of the headquarters of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU an image of a green, innovative and sustainable Portugal.