Sali e Tabacchi, a new publication from London-based journalist Elisa Carassai and graphic designer Leonardo Pellegrino, is inspired by their homeland of Italy. A beautifully-designed journal which gives images ample room to breathe and balances serif and sans serif type elegantly throughout, it “explores the relationship between the creative arts and Italy’s unknown rituals, habits and traditions.”
The pair met almost three years ago while Leonardo was studying at Central Saint Martins and Elisa at London College of Fashion. “We decided to create Sali e Tabacchi as a way to celebrate our country from far away, being both expats, having moved to London a while ago for university,” Leonardo explains. While much of the magazine’s content looks at Italy’s unknowns rituals and traditions, a large portion of its pages are dedicated to showcasing Italian creative entrepreneurs and artists on land and abroad. “The goal here is to objectively depict our country and subvert traditional expectations of what and who Italians really are,” Leonardo continues.
Sali e Tabacchi’s first issue is based loosely on the theme of “sensazioni familiari” or familiar feelings, “as Elisa likes to call them” and is a reflection upon origins, family, home towns, rituals and traditions, deja vu and nostalgic moments of happiness.
The cover story Cicale, shot by Paolo di Lucente is a trip around Italy which explores all of these said “familiar sensations” felt during the summer holidays, “from the scent of flowers to the chanting of cicadas; from the short but sweet sunsets to the morning tradition of having a coffee at the bar.” It’s a nostalgic and sun-drenched story which harks back to the feeling of sand in your swimsuit and suncream in your hair.
On some of his favourite stories, Leonardo says: “Elisa interviewed quite a few interesting subjects that have been hiding behind the scenes of the creative industry in Italy. One of them is Dina Azzolini, an enigmatic 80-year-old woman who has a past working with Helmut Newton, and was one of the first hairdressers in Italy to travel the world and do the hair for Gianni Versace’s runway shows, as well as many singers, actors in Italy, such as Mina. In the 70s she decided to give up everything to embrace a New Age/natural approach to haircare, by studying the phases of the moon and creating her own products. She is now known as a curator of manes. Her interview profile was shot by Alessandro Furchino Capria.”
Finally, when it comes to its design, Sali e Tabacchi feels altogether sophisticated and indicative of Italian design paradigms. With a classic photographically-led layout, typography takes centre stage. “The main serif font I used is Magister which it is a type designed by Aldo Novarese for Nebiolo,” Leonardo tells us. “This type has been only produced in letterpress form until a few years ago when Leonardo Azzolini from Omnigroup digitalised this type during his master at ECAL. I paired Magister with Venezia designed by the M-L-XL Studio.”
This is further supported by Leonardo’s astute art direction of the photography. “I was mainly inspired by the work of photographer Luigi Ghirri,” he begins. “He is the photographer that managed to describe Italy in the way both I and my co-founder feel about our country. All the interviews are also narrated through photographic portraits that were taken in their houses and studios of the subjects. This choice was undertaken in order to give a more immersive and personal understanding of the characters. Through these images, the audience can learn about spaces, objects and tools that surround the interviewee.”
Whether it’s through Leonardo’s choice of typeface, Elisa’s choice of interviewees or the photography that accompanies those stories, “the general thought,” Leonardo concludes, “was to keep it as Italian and authentic as possible with the theme of the publication.” We’d say they’ve more than achieved their goal.
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