Rotterdam-based design studio The New Raw is no stranger to environmental causes—it’s whole mandate is to raise awareness about eco issues such as plastic waste with innovative design and technologies like 3D printing. Most recently, the group teamed up with the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation in Greece to highlight the specific problem of abandoned fishing nets in marine ecosystems.
The New Raw team partnered with local fishermen and divers in Greece to collect synthetic fishing nets which had been, at some time or another, left in Greece’s coastal waters. The nets, known as ghost nets, have a major impact on maritime environments and are even considered to be some of the deadliest ocean debris as they trap fish, mammals and many other underwater species.
The New Raw’s goal was not only to remove some of the existing ghost nets from Greek waters, however, as it actually repurposed the synthetic net materials to produce a series of 3D printed seashells and household items. The project, called Second Nature, aims to juxtapose the beauty of natural marine environments with the harmful nature of ghost nets and other plastic pollution.
“Plastic is a major contributor to the pollution of the seas,” said Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki, The New Raw founders. “However, living in urban regions, we tend to forget about our dependence on the sea, which is crucial to our food and oxygen supply. With Second Nature, we want to give plastic a second life.”
The project demonstrates how plastic waste can be repurposed using technologies like 3D printing—effectively creating a more eco friendly circular economy. The process of recycling the ghost nets consisted of first gathering the nets from the sea and then classifying them into different materials: nets, ropes and weights. The plastic materials were then processed at The New Raw’s mobile plastic recycling and 3D printing lab in Galaxidi and transformed into “colorful and textured” 3D printing filaments.
The materials were then used to produce a series of 3D printed seashells, each inspired by an edible species of Mediterranean seashell that has been placed on a protected list due to intensive fishing practices. The digitally designed shells draw inspiration from the natural forms of the shells but also integrate an element of digital design, becoming “structurally performative ornaments.”
In addition to the seashell series, The New Raw also 3D printed a collection of tableware items that highlight the sustainability of the process. A new collection of 3D printed net-derived objects will be unveiled this summer as part of the Second Nature project.
In the meantime, the Dutch design studio has released a 10-minute documentary about its circular economy efforts, directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Daphne Matziaraki.