Behind the scenes: Sirene magazine

by Stine Fantoft Berg in February 2016
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Italian magazine Sirene journal is literally made from the sea. It’s printed on a lovely speckled paper stock created from algae (Favini’s Shiro Alga Favini, in case you’re wondering) and that’s just the beginning.

The entire project is a love letter to the sea, intended to inspire its readers into action that will see everyone taking better care of our oceans. I caught up with Milan-based founders Alberto Coretti and Floriana Cavallo to find out more about Sirene and their deep-rooted passion for the sea.


Tell me about Sirene – why did you want to create a magazine about the sea?
As readers, we couldn’t find a magazine about the sea tailored to our interests. There are lots of magazines about sports or passions connected to water with a technical approach. But we wanted to make a magazine dedicated to the beauty of the sea, with a more emotional approach and aesthetics informed by the ocean.

Sirene – mermaids – are mythological figures and they are a sort of personification of the relationship between humans and the sea. Sirene is a magazine about this relationship and how being close to water makes humans happy. We want Sirene to be a getaway – a mental retreat – for anyone who feels close to the sea even when it’s far away.


What are your personal relationships to the sea?
We live in Milan, which is about one and a half hours away from the coast. We love sailing, kayaking, free diving, but also just lying on the beach or on the rocks watching the waves rolling in. It doesn’t matter if it’s winter, summer, fall or spring – we feel attracted to the sea all year long.


The stories featured in the second issue seem to be a mix of people working and living close to the sea, and people using the sea for more recreational purposes. What’s your editorial approach?
Our approach is split into three main areas: Water as emotion – looking at passion, recreation and activities related to the sea; water as culture where we explore art, religion and traditions linked to the ocean; and third, water as genesis – the science of the sea, ecology and oceanography.


With the thousands of refuges crossing the oceans and increasing awareness around the state of our oceans and the impact this has on global warming, the ocean is arguably more relevant than ever. How political are you willing to get in Sirene?

You’re right. Our main focus will always be on the more recreational aspects of the sea, but of course we’re aware of the things going on and – however difficult – they can’t be ignored.

The sea represents both life and death – it has always played a great part in history, whether through war, migration, or a more environmental perspective. The earth’s temperature, the currents, the atmosphere, life in the sea – it all relies on the condition of our oceans. They’re determining the quality of life on earth.


So we need to protect the sea and keep it clean. If you go to the beach and clean up around you, not only will you leave it a better place for whoever comes after you, you’ll make a contribution to keeping the waters clean. It’s ethical and aesthetically pleasing at the same time.

And that’s also what we want Sirene to be – a beautiful object and an inspirational read that will hopefully influence just a handful of people to take better care of our oceans.


I love the little illustrations throughout – how did you settle on a visual language? And how is that informed by the sea?
The illustrations are the right balance between the coolness of a pictogram and the warmness of the handmade. We wanted Sirene to be sophisticated and elegant, but not cold. We use photography as the main feature. And we made sure to leave plenty of white space to reflect the purity and the clear horizon of the ocean. Looking out over the ocean is like therapy – no limits. The mind follows the eye.

The typography is also directly inspired by the sea. The masthead font has got tiny rounded corners making it look almost liquid. We combined that with a Latin font hinting at the historical importance of the sea.

And of course, our paper is a zero-impact stock made from recycled algae. It’s from the Italian paper mill Favini who specialise in making papers from different recycled materials.

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