Seagrass is rather unpleasant when swimming in the sea – and tons of it washed up on the beach must be removed at great expense. Phee, a start-up from Patras/Greece, had the idea of developing a new production material from this seagrass, e.g. for mobile phone covers or spectacle frames.
Stavros Tsompanidis from Patras no longer wanted to complain about the economic crisis and, like many other young Greeks, left the country frustrated by high unemployment. He came up with the idea of recycling seagrass and processing it into a kind of eco-wood and is now taking off with his start-up Phee. A necessary and important signal also to the compatriots, Tsompanidis finds to reflect on his own abilities and to be proud again of new ideas and successes.
Innovative natural material
According to the scientists, seagrass (lat. Posidonia Oceanica) is one of the oldest living organisms on earth. Every year, it is washed up in abundance on the shores of the Mediterranean and disposed of as waste. After three years of research and development, however, the Phee team has revived the dead leaves of seagrass and is the first company in the world to use it fully as a primary raw material.
The start-up uses the leaves, which are washed up on the coastline of the island of Syros on the doorstep, so to speak, and turns them into an innovative, sustainable material for a wide variety of commercial applications using a patented process. It is dried, processed and pressed, is 100% water-repellent, UV-resistant and surprisingly light.
Sustainability and social economy
The Greek company is killing two birds with one stone: on the one hand, the environmentally friendly production reduces waste from the seagrass and thus the enormous costs for its disposal, and on the other hand, local production creates jobs in the still shaken country.
At present, for example, mobile phone cases or spectacle frames are made of the new material. The latter were developed together with another Greek company, Zylo Eyewear. The result was the Phee Collection of sunglasses, which combines walnut wood with Posidonia Oceanic seagrass.
The right partner
With Zylo Eyewear the right partner was found. The manufacturer is in Syros at home and specialized in wooden glasses. The wood used is carefully selected and refined by hand. Instead, the frames are made waterproof with beeswax and olive oil and the natural colours of the wood are emphasised. Carl Zeiss Vision Sunlens lenses are used for the sunglasses.
Take the Greek summer with you
“We wanted the customer to have a piece of Greek pride in his or her hands – and to have a quality product that would give him or her the feeling of the Greek summer.”
This is evident in all aspects of the collection: from the names of the sunglasses, their designs, the graphic creations and their photographs, one tries to convey the feeling of this region. “From the pictures of the houses of Ermoupoli, the fields under the sun in the villages of Syros, everything refers to the bright blue colour of the sea and the bright light of the Aegean Sea, which reminds us of its islands. Lines and shapes on the frame of our sunglasses, reminiscent of the waves of the sea, the pine trees, the sand flow on the golden beaches of the Mediterranean and the essence of the cool summer night breeze”.
Soon also available in Germany?
The collection is now available at www.phee.gr and www.zyloeyewear.com and will be shipped worldwide within five to six working days. Phee is already working on this and would like to bring the eyewear collection to the German market.