Lounges of the 2021 Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Lounges of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union

In September 2020, SUSDESIGN was contracted to design the lounges of and individual furniture pieces for the various events of the 2020-2021 Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union (PPUE), in line with the established PPUE theme of a “sustainable, digital, and just recovery” post pandemic, and in parallel to the general branding of the event.


The PPUE was headquartered at the Belém Cultural Center in Lisbon, where the vast majority of events took place. As such, the foyers of the building were designated as informal meeting and waiting areas in need of lounges. Additionally, despite the limitations of travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic conditions, some events were conducted in other cities (Porto, Coimbra, etc.), thus the individual furniture pieces for the presidency would need to be:

  • Easily transportable and sufficiently durable;
  • Low cost;
  • And, most importantly,

  • Be designed, produced, and delivered within the time-frame of the preparations of the PPUE (i.e.by January 1st 2021).

    Sustainability was suggested by SUSDESIGN, and decided upon by the Mission and Ministry, as a major theme of the Presidency (as the official theme had not yet been declared), and as such, all the furniture and furnishings designed and curated by SUSDESIGN had to reflect the theme.

    From SUSDESIGN’s side, the aesthetical concept was developed to emphasize the Portuguese forests and the nation’s connection to the oceans. Research was conducted into available natural and recycled material solutions as well as national (and where not available, European) industries that could supply such materials in short notice and under pandemic lockdown conditions.

    The resulting materials portfolio included molded eucalyptus leaves panels, panels from molded forest waste, preserved moss, recycled nylon from fishermen’s nets, upcycled Portuguese pine from old cargo pallets, and cork.

    The lounges would be designed around a forest theme - chairs with individual side tables, biombos for organizing small casual spaces (with built-in ambient lighting), cork puffs for additional seating, and carpets.


    Commemorative ‘Forest Chair’

    The center-pieces of the unique commemorative furniture of the Presidency were the lounge chairs. Designed specifically for the Presidency, the commemorative chairs utilized value-added renewable sustainable forest-based materials and local industries, and digital production techniques.


    The outer surfaces of the chairs come in two colors / materials: 

    -Eucalyptus green - the waste-stream of the controversial paper industry in Portugal, preserved in a resin to maintain its aroma and unique natural color for a long duration, providing a natural texture and color (and aroma) to the environment.

    -Mato brown - the clutter (twigs, branches, leaves) of the forest floor, adding a unique dark brown color and natural texture to its environment, while drawing attention to the importance of managing the forest ecosystem.


    The interior surfaces and edges of the chair utilize agglomerated cork to provide a natural, soft, easy-to-clean surface for the user. The agglomerated cork is made from the waste-stream of the cork stoppers industry, and aims to provide added-value to a traditionally non-noble material. The physical and tactile properties of the cork ensure a warm feel and firm comfort.

    Each seat was designed with an individual side-table to fit with the context of social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic. The table comprises slices of recovered pine wood from broken cargo pallets, rotating slice by slice from the angle of the seat to provide a level surface to put accessories on, while also enforcing distance from the occupier of the neighboring chair.


    The forest chair comprises two main elements: 

    -the structure, which consists of flat sandwich material plates joined by piano hinges, can be unfolded for easier transport and storage; and,

    -the seat, which comprises the seating surface and side table, can be slid through slots on the side panels of the structure for easy assembly.


    The chairs were also used in events outside of Lisbon, namely at the Social Summit in Porto, the Informal Council Meeting in Porto, and the Informal Meeting of Ministers of Foreign and EU Affairs in Coimbra, among others.


    Light Biombos

    The biombos were designed to be easily movable to modify the lounge spaces as needed, while also providing ambience with their moss front panels and programmable LED lights to create different ambient lighting. The two large surfaces of the biombos consist of preserved moss panels, which further bring a unique, natural atmosphere to the spaces in which they were utilized.



    The carpets designed for the lounges utilized upcycled nylon (Econyl) from the waste fishing nets of European fishermen, and were developed by the Danish brand EGE. A two-tone blue color gradient was selected to provide harmony with the color themes of the Presidency, as well as to symbolize the link between Portugal and Europe and the oceans. 



    In addition to the Forest Chair, puffs were designed in collaboration with the Portuguese furniture brand Momoa, utilizing cork leather in natural brown and deep blue, which reflected the blue and gold colors of the Presidency, and which provided a unique, unexpected tactile experience to occupiers.

    Project Details
    Client: EMOLCP
    Local: Belém Cultural Center, Lisbon, Portugal
    Year: 2020-2021
    Team: Ana Mestre
    Rasim Can Savaskan
    Sebastiao Bizarro
    Pedro Leitão