Stamps made from algae from the Venetian Lagoon

For his project From Venice with Algae, designer Pablo Dorigo Sempere used Favini’s algae paper, made from Venetian algae, to design a stamp as a product that could ideally convey the story and the beauty of the paper everywhere.

The algae paper, which you can find in our collection here, was born in 1992, when the Italian government asked Venetian paper company Favini to use the build-up of algae that was harming the ecosystem in the Venetian lagoon. In a patented process, the algae are dried and ground in a special mill. Today, the concept has been extended to other fragile marine areas.

Dorigo Sempere used the paper to make stamps, because “the stamp has the extraordinary power to travel all over the world. Looking at the climate change challenge (that we have to face) we note that there is a lack of communication between the scientific community and people. Convey a story in a capillary way can be very important to change the collective consciousness.”

Stamps convey historical information and represent crucial moments. They also have the highest weight to value ratio in the world.

To understand the material better, Dorigo Sempere learnt how to make the algae paper from scratch. First, the cellulose fibres are hung in clear water for 24 hours, allowing them to macerate. The fibres are then moved into a container and mixed with finely en coarsely powdered algae in various amount, depending on the desired colour and texture of the paper. The coarser the powder, the more irregular and rough the surface of the paper and the darker the colour. The colour ranges from ivory to dark brown. Finally, a deckle, a frame-like device used to shape paper pulp, is dipped into the mixture and used to scoop up the fibres, before leaving them to dry under a press for 48 hours.

With digitalisation, codes and optical sensors are replacing watermarks which used to be on stamps, but they still need a paper support. Dorigo Sempere made the barcodes graphically appealing for the algae stamps, but still readable by optical sensors.

The From Venice with Algae stamps were created during his time at ÉCAL as part of the “Aesthetics of Sustainability” project.

Photos: Pablo Dorigo Sempere