One of the things I love most about being an eyewear designer, is that I spend a lot of time at the factories, where I get to meet some very inspiring people. One of these is Raffaele Ricciuti, owner of 1955, a producer of bespoke eyewear in the South of Italy. Here his team of craftsmen create products for niche brands as well as for Occhialeria Artigiana, their own collection, which will be exhibited at this year’s XXI International Exhibition of the Triennale of Milan.
Many things set 1955 apart from other manufacturers. They are decentralised from the eyewear centres of production in the North of Italy, yet unlike some in the country, they are certified 100% Made in Italy. The other unique feature of of 1955 is Raffaele himself, a luminary who decided to invests in technology to support his team’s handcraft skills.
photo Andrea Verzola
Here is an extract from my interview with Raffaele.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SET-UP?
As a small Italian eyewear manufacturer we use only the best raw materials and components, fortunately these are all Italian; this grants us a 100% Made in Italy certification, which we are very proud of.
We work with a small portfolio of clients who appreciate the values of Made in Italy craftsmanship and who are looking to develop and produce unique, top quality eyewear. Our production line is not set up to churn-out vast quantities as our machines are manually operated, aside from one, which we use for precision manufactory. Our technical department also relies on a 3D printer and we are set-up to follow our clients from initial concept to finished product.
WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF OFFERING 3D PRINTING, IN CONJUNCTION WITH HANDCRAFT MANUFACTURING SKILLS?
With 3D printing within a few hours we are able to create an initial prototype, which enables us to fine-tune the initial shape over several iterations, before proceeding to the final, handmade prototype. This way we can reduce sampling lead-times by approximately 30%.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF SUNGLASSES? ARE THERE ANY TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS ON THE HORIZON?
The eyewear industry is frozen in time and most manufacturers are looking at innovation to distinguish themselves from others. We are also investing in the development of unique materials and we have filed a patent application for a new machine.