Seagrass for Sustainable Surfaces: Yannis Pavlakis’ Homebound, Holistic Journey

In recent years, health and well-being have become the prime focus of designers while creating meaningful environments. The pandemic outbreak has played a crucial role in bringing about this change. Even inhabitants themselves have become increasingly conscious of how indoor spaces are impacting their physical and mental wellness. As a result, air quality, access to green spaces, and usage of sustainable materials have become significant in interior design. 

At Everything Architecture 2022, Love That Design came across Metis Seagrass, a company that creates eco-friendly surfaces as an alternative to traditional petroleum-based products. In light of a focus shift in the interior, we got in touch with Yannis Pavlakis, the founder and a spatial designer, to learn more….

Seagrass: An Overlooked Source of Sustainable Surfaces?

Dried seagrass, the primary material of Metis Seagrass’ sustainable surfaces, had caught Yannis’ fancy as a child. He recalls, “Greek sea shores are full of washed-up seagrass. Every summer visit to the beach since childhood has instilled its smell and feel in my mind.”

Hence, it is no surprise that when Yannis began experimenting with natural fibres, seagrass was one of the first materials he chose. “It is also used as one of the insulation materials in vernacular buildings in the islands across the Mediterranean Sea, ” he adds with a fond smile. Eventually, after multiple rounds of research and testing with the material, Metis Seagrass was conceived to curate eco-friendly surfaces using the seagrass Posidonia oceanica.

Exclusively found in the Mediterranean Sea, Posidonia oceanica (colloquially known as Neptune grass) is one of Earth’s most ancient and largest colonial organisms. There exist single clones of the species that are over 100,000 years old! 

Innovating a High-Quality Seagrass By-product

Dried Posidonia Oceanica seagrass mixed with an eco-friendly binder, backed on biodegradable substrates like HPL (high-pressure laminate) plywood, fabric wallpaper, and more, give rise to material that has various redeemable qualities.

Yannis explains, “Posidonia Oceanica has special characteristics that no other natural fibres possess. These include good insulation properties, high fire resistance, and resistance to processes of microbial degradation. Seagrass extracts have antibacterial and antifungal properties, making the surfaces suitable for creating healthy spaces.”

Interiors + Seagrass = Metis Seagrass

Surfaces from Metis Seagrass promote nature-centric and healthier spaces. They allow the creation of inherently unique interior solutions by seeking inspiration from the Japanese Wabi-Sabi philosophy. It essentially means focusing on finding beauty within the imperfections and peacefully accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay. 

Right from acquiring dried seagrass in the beginning to using its potent qualities for infusing life within interiors, the journey of Metis Seagrass surfaces itself is a reflection of respecting the cycle of life and making the utmost use of it.

Even in the world of interiors, the Wabi-Sabi philosophy is often inspired by nature. Designers imbuing an understated elegance through earthy materials and rustic forms amplify solitude in a space. The eco-friendly surfaces offered by Metis Seagrass offer authenticity that fits this description exactly.

Being installed in projects such as IKEA Greece – to cover their display walls and reinforce their image regarding sustainable innovation, and at the Natural History Museum of Mons, Belgium – on the surface of a table lamp, showcase its wide-ranged applications. 

Yannis mentions, “The surfaces find wide applications as wall coverings or veneers for furniture, interior doors, interior lifts, acoustic panels, and very soon as an MDF alternative to traditional polluting panels. We work closely with clients to achieve the best outcome for every project.”

The Road So Far

After opening in 2013 and working on optimizing their offerings, Metis Seagrass has bagged accolades such as Cleantech Open Award, German Green Product Award, and Catalyst DUBAI Award. These not only validate the material’s potential but also articulate its edge over other synthetic materials.

Of his progress so far, Yannis says, “There are several in-between milestones that played an important role in reaching this present level; I cannot distinguish just one! However, one of the most exciting ones was when we were announced as winners in Dubai in BIG5 StartUp City 2022 by Catalyst – the startup accelerator based in Masdar City Free Zone.”

The Road Ahead

“We are very optimistic about our future development because there is a great need and demand from people that are looking after their body and mind health, particularly after the pandemic and the unstable environment due to climate change,” says Yannis

Further, Mettis Seagrass aspires to venture into the residential and commercial projects of the MENA region. The company is seeking to brew partnerships for investigating local natural fibres that could provide similar eco-friendly products.

Posidonia Oceanica Images Courtesy WikiPedia and Flikr

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Date added:

15 February, 2023

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