The polluting algae in the Venetian lagoon become stamps

Designer Pablo Dorigo uses Alga Carta, a special paper made from algae, to create stamps that tell a story.

The viral photos of clear water in the Venice lagoon – thanks to the absence of boats due to the coronavirus lockdown – make us reflect on the very identity of the lagoon itself. Among the most requested tourist destinations, the Republic of Venice was once known as the “valley of paper mills” for its supremacy in mastering materials such as paper, glass, dyes and fabrics. To support this narrative Italian-Spanish designer Pablo Dorigo conceived the project From Venice with Algae, developed during his master’s degree at ECAL in Lausanne.

Thanks to the collaboration with Favini paper manufacturing company, Dorigo was able to study a new use for Algae Paper. This paper was patented for the first time in Italy in 1992. At the time the Italian government had asked the company to find a reuse of polluting algae, which were increasingly damaging the ecosystem of the Venetian lagoon.

Analyzing the production process of this paper, with its variety of colours and watermark, Dorigo decided to use it for the production of stamps, a choice motivated by the need to create a device capable of conveying a message. “The lack of communication between inventors and the consumers is one of the biggest obstacles to improved behavior and change” the designer tells us “this is why a story or message can be more useful and educational than another product made of any recycled material.”

With the digitalization of the postal system, optical readers are replacing the cost and complexity of the watermark. The project resumes the functionality of barcodes, transporting them graphically on this new type of paper. “I thought was also important to find a title for the project. From Venice with Algae, contains something about the place, the material, and implicitly the lovefor this special context.”

From Venice with Algae
Pablo Dorigo

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