by Tina Manzer
Meet the Ergos One chair from Nautilus, a 24-year-old school- and-office-furniture company headquartered in Portugal. The single-piece polypropylene chair is made with nontoxic materials in a solar-powered factory, and it’s 100-percent recyclable, says Susana Figueiredo Oliveira, the company’s business development manager. The versatile seating line offers seven different sizes and 16 vibrant colors, making them the darling of European classrooms – and television shows. Colorful Ergos One chairs regularly appear on “Monica Chef” on the Disney Channel in Italy, a series about a young girl in culinary school.
The chair is the company’s bestseller, and a recent arrival to the U.S. market and we wanted to find out more about it. Here is what Susana told us.
First, tell me a little about your company.
The Nautilus headquarters and factory are in the northern part of Portugal, close to the well-known city of Porto. It also operates a branch in Spain. Nautilus began in 1996 as a home furnishings manufacturer before switching its focus to school and office furniture in 1999.
Our products are distributed all over the world. Right now we’re creating logistical facilities in the U.K. and France. We employ about 100 people in Portugal, plus others in Spain and the U.S. We’ve opened a warehouse in Galeton, Pennsylvania, and have hired a managing director for the North American market. In the U.S. and Canada, we distribute our products under the Ergos Furniture brand.
The company remains a market leader in both Portugal and Spain, and is recognized throughout Europe and Africa for the quality of its products and its smart use-of-space solutions. You can find Ergos furniture in the office/home office, medical and toys markets, in addition to the education market.
What’s makes Ergos furniture unique?
Our chairs offer end users many benefits, but let me point out their unique recyclable and sustainable features first.
Ergos One chairs, made from polypropylene, are totally recyclable. They’re probably more environmentally friendly than wood or metal chairs, and we don’t make them using any varnishes, glues or paints. Our dyes are the same ones used by the food industry.
At the same time, they shouldn’t be considered ‘disposable.’ Their patented design makes them strong, sturdy and long-lasting. Thanks to their double-wall structure, created by gas injection, we can offer a 10-year warranty on them.
Soon, we’ll be producing the chairs using plastic domestic waste. We’ll keep you posted on that.
The chairs can interlock to adjust to auditorium spaces, and they can also be upholstered. They’re easy to clean and can be antibacterial, so they’re also perfect for cafeterias, offices and waiting areas. They can be used inside and out – they’re UV
Both the Ergos One and the Ergos Shell line – which uses various steel tubes to create different models – are available to the North American market. They have wide seats and lumbar support to reduce fatigue caused by all-day sitting, plus smooth edges and increased resistance to impact, scratches and wear. They’re lightweight, customizable and stackable.
Is the Ergos chair line the only line you make?
No – we produce more than 900 different furniture products. In addition to polypropylene, we use wood and metal. We also provide complete turnkey solutions for education and office spaces, nursing homes and hospitals. Our furniture meets the demands of today’s busy work spaces, and they’re flexible and fun.
Is sustainability important to Nautilus?
Absolutely. Company-wide, we make a very important effort to decrease our carbon footprint. It’s important for our children and for a healthier future for all of us.
All our products are made in Portugal, and meet all the quality, ergonomic and environmental requirements of the European Union. Our factory runs on sustainable energy – solar panels – and it uses less energy than it creates. We produce a chair in our factory every two minutes, which means that the amount of power needed is very low. We monitor it daily to make sure that we have the lowest impact possible on the environment.
For our furniture that is wood, we use trees from sustainable forests, and we make sure the ratio of planting trees to cutting trees is met. The corrugated boxes we use are also produced using trees from sustainable forests. We use corrugated suppliers from both America and Europe.
Our mission to remain competitive and have good target prices is completely compatible with environmental protection.
At what trade shows can people see your products?
We exhibit at EDspaces and ECRM in the U.S., and The Bett Show in London.
What’s your busiest time of year for production?
Our production flow follows the rhythm of the school year, so our busiest periods are from May to November.
What advice would you offer dealers for selling your products?
I would tell them that we have drop-ship capabilities, which means we are able to distribute to several market channels.
I would also say that we are introducing into the school market a new type of chair. The level of quality and resistance to wear is huge, and our price point is very competitive. We offer a 10-year warranty on a chair that is also UV protected for indoor and outdoor use, that resists a range of temperatures from very cold weather to very hot, that is washable and can be antibacterial.
Our product is easy to sell because there are so many positive features. If there are any doubts, just ask us for a sample. We will send it for testing.