We want to surprise our readers and bring people who are not necessarily receptive to ocean themes through beautiful aesthetics and unexpected stories.
“Because, underneath all of this is the real truth we have been avoiding: climate change isn’t an “issue” to add to the list of things to worry about, next to health care and taxes. It is a civilizational wake-up call. A powerful message—spoken in the language of fires, floods, droughts, and extinctions—telling us that we need an entirely new economic model and a new way of sharing this planet. Telling us that we need to evolve.” ― Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.
That’s how we should start an interview with Sergio Penzo. The German creative director’s beginnings lay in Haiti and Dominican Republic. Studying business and design in Chile, he’s then been irresistibly caught up by European culture. Fascinated by the sea, Sergio Penzo wanted to create both a whole universe and a collective dedicated to and united by a common passion. "I felt there was a need for a more fluid platform that harnesses creativity and uses the power of storytelling to put a spotlight on our dependence of our fragile oceans and the immense influence it has on us."
As an aesthetic and creative connection to our oceans, Panthalassa was born with the intention to reflect on our changing world. Today, our journal discusses contemporary culture and our unique relationship with our oceans, bringing together multiple talents, from photographers, filmmakers, writers and graphic designers. « We want to surprise our readers and bring people who are not necessarily receptive to ocean themes through beautiful aesthetics and unexpected stories. » Meet the ship master behind the creative boat.
Tell us more about your background.
I was born in Germany but spent all my childhood in Haiti and Dominican Republic. My family then moved to Chile where I finished school and studied business and design. I guess I have a nomadic spirit. I can’t keep down so I decided to try my luck in Europe. A few months later, I started working for Jung von Matt, one of the world’s biggest creative ad agencies. Influenced by authors like Naomi Klein, back then I believed in the power of brands to change the world for good or worst. So I started my own brand called TWOTHIRDS, a beautiful experiment which would lay out the blue print for what is today Panthalassa.
As a creative director, you’ve been working for prestigious clients and brands. What have been the lessons learnt along the way?
As a creative and strategist, I learnt to work around brands or companies that needed help. The solution was often a new idea, where nothing was defined. By putting together the brightest minds and talented creators, we’ve been able to shape a thought. I found this whole process fascinating and kept asking myself ‘what if we channelled this powerful energy into a good purpose?’ The essence of my work today hasn’t changed much, but the purpose has entirely shifted.
Who or what ignited your passion for the ocean?
Probably the fact of spending my childhood on an island surrounded by water did. Also, when I was 10, my mother started studying marine biology. We would spend afternoons studying together, I would do math while she'd be preparing her exams.
Give us an insight of what your routine looks like today.
I get to our studio around 8. It’s only a 5-minute walk so I take the longer way alongside our local beach. I like the fact that the sea always looks different, so that already breaks the routine. There’s nothing certain about the sea, and I try to keep this unpredictability in my creative process. I make a break around 1 to get some things to cook at the local market, If you live in San Sebastian, eating pretty much dictates your life! I leave work around 7 and try to get some surf before the sun goes down.
You recently discovered sailing and free-diving. Tell us more about these two new water hobbies.
I just started free-diving two years ago. It was a huge discovery. Some people embark on a transformational journey through meditation or other practices. For me, it was free-diving. It made me confront many fears and embark on a shift of consciousness that is still taking place today. I only started sailing recently. It’s a total new way of experiencing the sea and, to my own surprise, it can be as exciting.
When and why did you decide to create Panthalassa?
I was still involved with Twothirds but I felt it had shifted from a purpose driven brand. I felt there was a need for a more fluid platform that harnesses creativity and uses the power of storytelling to put a spotlight on our dependence of our fragile oceans and the immense influence it has on us.
The Panthalassa Society is an important element of the creative process. Can you officially present your team of talents?
The Panthalassa Society is just a fancy word for our community of incredibly talented creators: They’re like-minded individuals who have a a great sensibility and love for the ocean. We have been able to attract some amazing people who give us their time, energy and talent because they feel that when we connect and collaborate we can contribute to something bigger than ourselves.
Panthalassa is known for its avant-garde approach towards ocean-related stories. Tell us more about your editorial vision.
We keep this journal as a way to remind us the fascinating relationship we have built as a species with the ocean. We want to surprise our readers and bring people who are not necessarily receptive to ocean themes through beautiful aesthetics and unexpected stories.
Throughout your different projects, you tend to depict a certain philosophy of sustainability. Why is it so important to raise awareness of sustainable fishing and cooking today?
During the past few years, we’ve been working close with NGOs like Oceana and the Marine Steward Council supporting their efforts to end overfishing. We will need fish to feed the 9 billion people on this planet, and the only way is to secure healthy oceans and bring back the abundance our seas once had. I believe we can play a critical role by telling stories of sustainability and helping shift the narrative of the seafood industry.
What’s next for Panthalassa?
We are about to open a collaboration space in San Sebastian, a dream I had since starting Panthalassa. But I don’t want to give too much away. You will find out more about it soon.
Short Film: Technogym / C41 Studio
Creative director: Luca Attilio Caizzi
Photos : C41 Magazine
Read the full story on C41 Magazine.