Afsaneh Angelina Rafii says her new environmental magazine will not preach to the choir
Photo: Matic Zorman
Delano caught up with Afsaneh Angelina Rafii, founder and editor of Icarus Complex, a magazine tackling climate change.
By the time I get to chat with Afsaneh Angelina Rafii, the first edition of her brand-new magazine is already sold out. The founder and editor of Icarus Complex is now based in London, but still regularly returns to Luxembourg where her sister, Parissa, runs the successful Ireco pistachio business founded by their father.
Afsaneh is well-known to discerning readers of the now defunct Nico magazine, which was produced by Delano publisher Maison Moderne up until 2015, where she was initially the fashion editor and then the deputy editor. She is still active in Luxembourg, writing for catalogues and publications put out by local group Design Friends, including its 10th anniversary book “50 Designers, 50 Encounters”.
Indeed, it was while interviewing designers for that book that Afsaneh says the first seeds of the idea to launch a magazine dedicated to ecological issues were first planted. “Designers, specifically people who work in industrial or furniture design, really talked about the idea that you have to think about the end cycle of a product, about resource management and being more responsible.”
She came away from the project with renewed hope that creative people were thinking about the ecology. “I was thinking wouldn’t it be great if there was some sort of think-tank out there for people like that.”
Then she was knocked back by the resignation of French environment minister Nicolas Hulot in August 2018. But attending the global magCulture magazine conference later that year proved inspirational. “People were presenting magazines about their love of football, or one girl had a magazine about witchcraft,” she explains.
So, when the editor of Courier explained that the idea for his magazine came while sitting in the audience at magCulture and hoped maybe someone at the conference would be similarly influenced, it took just a few minutes for Afsaneh to decide she would launch her own environment-focused publication. “I started researching and didn’t really find anyone else doing it, and I became obsessed with the idea,” she explains. Together with Lara Frisch and Pedram Rowhani, Afsaneh founded a non-profit to publish the magazine, but was wary of launching a publication aimed at “a bunch of hipsters”. Purposefully not preaching to the choir quickly defined the direction the magazine would take.
The result is a smart looking 140-page biannual magazine that takes a look at the issues and people tackling climate change, including Luxembourg’s Déi Gréng co-president Djuna Bernard as well as leading international activists like US lawyer Julia Olsen and UK charity Client Earth’s Karla Hill.
The next edition, which will have a larger print run, is scheduled for April 2020. Meanwhile Afsaneh is slowly building the Icarus Complex website, which she wants to be solution-based so that readers can find what can be applied to their own life, their community or even at national or international level.