Elena Orsi Mazzucchelli, Mazzucchelli 1849

Italy’s historic producer of cellulose acetate, Mazzucchelli 1849 is held in high esteem across the optical industry for its beautiful richly coloured creative acetate materials, which include the sustainable Bioplastic M49. During a visit to the Mazzucchelli factory in Castiglione Olona this month, arranged by Italian independent label RES/REI (www.resrei.com) – a company that works closely with Mazzucchelli to create its own custom acetate colours – Eyestylist spoke to Elena Orsi Mazzucchelli, one of several members of the Mazzucchelli family at the helm of the day-to-day running of the business today. Trained as a lawyer, Elena works at Mazzucchelli HQ as Product Development Manager, CENTRO O Group – in the creative hub for Mazzucchelli’s research, study and design and colour development.

First, can you explain your current role at Mazzucchelli and how long you have been working there? What does it mean to you to be part of such a historic family business? I am responsible for product development, one of the beating hearts of the company. I work with a super professional and passionate team, made up of people with different interests and passions, but all united by an innate sensitivity for the product. I have been working for the company for 13 years.

Mazzucchelli1849 is a family business that next year celebrates an important anniversary: 175 years. I can say that it is a great pride to belong to the sixth generation of the family who works in the company. On the one hand I feel very lucky to be part of such an important reality, able to create beauty with values, on the other I know I have a great responsibility towards the people who work in this large family.

Macro trend forecast: “Normality” – translating into colours that recall the earth and nature: rust, forest green, grey, apricot…(MIDO 2023 release)

What are the most creative elements of your job and what do you enjoy the most about it? In my role, I have the fortune to range from the creativity necessary for the creation of a new product, the ability of laboratories to create prototypes, from the most artisanal to the most technologically advanced, up to the production of what I like to call mass-produced uniqueness.

I think creativity is a very special value with which we are lucky enough to be born, it must be cultivated and everyone has to do it according to their own inspirations.

One of the fundamental moments for the birth of a new product is the idea: that feeling that does not leave you until it is realized. It must not remain something abstract, it must be shared and if, after discussing this idea with your colleagues, with the laboratories, it still conveys the same strength to you, it means that it must be created. And seeing the first sample made from this idea is one of my favourite moments.

Changes are underway in the optical business with the switch to more sustainable materials. Can you summarise how Mazzucchelli is committed to this switch? It is now quite a long time that Mazzucchelli is committed to sustainable materials, since well before the market and the customers asked for such a change. M49 is our sustainable material on the market now since 2010. During the years, we have continued to improve the performance of M49 material and to promote its usage among the customers, even if at that time the approach to bio, natural and sustainable materials was definitely much less sensitive than what it is today. Mazzucchelli is committed to improving sustainability of the materials through continuous improvements of its iconic M49 as well as the general improvement of its processes, with the increased usage of sustainable energy and improvement of the efficiency of the production processes.

Macro trend forecast: City Life (MIDO 2023 release)

What is your view of the opportunities offered by – for example – M49 – a bio-based and biodegradable material produced by Mazzucchelli? M49 is the only material capable of fully responding to the demand of a more sustainable material. It is a natural material, coming from wood and the plasticiser used is from natural origins, while the “normal” acetate has a plasticiser with fossil origin. Besides, acetate is a recyclable material and, within some technical limitation, can be re-used in some production processes, thus improving its sustainable footprint.

ERKERS est 1879 USA

What other sustainable developments can you tell us about? We think in the coming future there will be a much wider usage of natural and sustainable materials, replacing the other materials. This is a no-return decision of the market. Therefore all the efforts will be to sustain this market change by enlarging our offer of M49 together with other solutions aimed at improving the global sustainability not only of our materials and processes  but also of the entire supply chain. The usage of acetate Renew helps to improve the sustainability through the Chemical Recycling Technology developed by our supplier Eastman. In this way it is possible to recycle the cellulose acetate waste without affecting the final quality of the Renew material.

Mazzucchelli: material samples

Regarding 2023, what are the highlights in terms of trends and colours for eyewear? What for you really stands out for Autumn/Winter, and do you think there is one particular trend that we will see continuing into next year? I think this Autumn/Winter will give us the desire to seek out timeless pieces, which move further and further away from what does not coincide with our commitment to sustainability, which have stories to tell and preserve. We do not have to think of a basic and hyper-classic product, but of a contextualised product that looks towards the future. A combination of material and colour, tones that manage to lighten and give a boost of energy to any pattern. I believe this is not a fleeting desire, it is, in any case, the result of the stimuli we receive from nature on the one hand and from digital technology on the other. The basic colours are sophisticated and transversal, we can think of a rich palette of browns, rusts and greys, combined with brighter tones, contaminated by digital and at the same time empathic.

What are your passions beyond eyewear and eyewear creativity? My passions affect my work and my work affects my passions. I understood that the love for this job is something that is part of my DNA, my roots. And it was a discovery that I gained over the years, because my education goes beyond this world, I trained as a lawyer. Since I joined the company, and got to know the reality of product development, I can say that it was love at first sight.

Just as I love travelling, getting to know new places and different cultures. My father is Italian and my mother is Dutch, so I experience different influences myself and I like to look for beauty in the things around me especially in those I don’t know.

I love to fill my eyes with beauty: whether it’s a painting that attracts the eye, a walk in nature with my children, a city by the sea, a good local dish or people who spend happy time together. I never get tired of looking around. And I have a thing for colour, in everything I do. Professional deformation….



Blake Kuwahara: ever evolving, with signature details

Highlights in this season’s line by Blake Kuwahara include strong shapes, bold, sculpted effects, and much admired signature details

Known across the eyewear business for a unique product style, and his signature frame-within-a-frame laminated technique, the American designer, Blake Kuwahara continues to deliver an exclusive eyewear experience in products which reflect a carefully honed style and quality, with dedication to nuances and finesse in shapes and use of colour.

“The one thing the last few years have taught us is to expect the unexpected,” he says, talking about his approach to this year’s collection and his focus in the designs. “We’ve had to adjust our expectations and learn to adapt to a new normal. I felt the need for a similar shift in my eyewear designs while keeping a visual through-line connecting it to my existing collection. I wanted to play a bit more with softer colors balanced with stronger shapes. I also wanted to enhance the cutting and sculpting of fronts and temples. To achieve this, we needed to use special cutting and CNC laser machines to get the precise contours for each frame.” Above: the model Kellogg is available as an optical or sunglass style and comes in refined tones of cloud, midnight, navy horn and olive. 

Optical style Aldrich by Blake Kuwahara

Model Aldrich by Blake Kuwahara offers the designer’s signature look in acetate, with an expressive colour palette ranging from crystal (contrasting with black), midnight, navy horn or red fade. The playful two-tone effect of the colorways distinguishes the bold yet classic round eyewear shape.

BK1021 by Blake Kuwahara – available as an optical or sunglass style

The BK1021 is one of the genderless metal frames that stands out in The Grey Label Collection at Blake Kuwahara. The frame is available in black, antique brown, gold and gunmetal and features the fascinating cast bone temple motif typical of this series of frames. Find out more at www.blakekuwahara.com

Eyestylist summer showcase: Erker’s 1879

Custom-designed acetate colour blends

For Spring/Summer, Erker’s 1879 introduces eyewear models in their Roman Numeral V collection, with several designs featuring spectacular new acetate colour blends. The designs use biodegradable cellulose acetate, supported by a matte silver wire core and authentic stainless-steel rivets on the inside of the temple. Of the eight acetate models, there is one men’s style, Marlborough, which features a classic rectangular shape available in five colours, including the brand-new Tricolor acetate blend, which combines very delicate tones of light blue, and brown.  Above: attention to detail has always been a feature of the Erker’s 1879 collection

100% Optical London 24th to 26th February 2024
Erkers1879 – the masculine Marlborough frame – with a “Tricolor acetate blend’

As a family-owned brand with a rich history in St. Louis, the Erkers pride themselves on the storytelling throughout their collections. Each new release features elements relating to the history of the brand and the Erker family, like the roman numeral V on the temple tips to symbolize the collection and the number of generations to run the family business, as well as their year of inception found throughout the designs. Each frame gets its name from an area throughout St. Louis, honoring the city that started it all. For more details visit www.erkers1879.com

Eyestylist summer showcase : Scandinavian inspiration at Nirvan Javan

Timeless and minimal, with a universal style

Swiss brand Nirvan Javan, whose eyewear collections are informed by a plethora of international design styles, shares its most recent releases inspired by the capital city of Sweden: Stockholm. The frames are characterised by classical, minimal structures, with matt finishes and earthy acetate colours, with a luxurious refinement that the designer has based on a Swedish aesthetic, connected to simplicity, functionality and use of natural materials in the world of design. Above: natural pared-back colorations are the basis of the Stockholm collection by Nirvan Javan

Intro - Frames Forward
Nirvan Javan – a round shape is featured in the Stockholm collection

Among the shapes, the round frame, which comes in elegant transparent finishes as well as a natural brown, has a distinctive and iconic feel with a sculpted nose bridge and artistically rounded edges. The Nirvan Javan collections are available across Europe at leading opticians including Die Brille Hanover, Visilab, Ebikon and Ottica Vicari, Lugano. www.nirvanjavan.com

Pop-up : SALT. Optics at APNEE, Paris

The two brands have found a synergy that has brought about some fresh photography and a brand new pop-up…

Californian eyewear brand SALT. Optics and French swimwear label Apnée have joined forces in a new pop-up project in Paris. Opening with a party this month in the Apnee outlet on Rue des Abbesses, the store is also hosting the SALT. Optics collection from now until the end of June in a unique corner with branding and a minimal design. Above: SALT. Optics has a corner in the Apnée store in Paris this month

Oliver Goldsmith
SALT. Optics @ Apnée in Paris

Apnée is a French swimwear brand creating swimsuits from recycled materials including plastic bottles, collected in the Mediterranean Sea. “They are ocean lovers just like we are,” the SALT. team told Eyestylist, when asked about the pop-up event. “They create beautiful apparel, which lasts over time and – above all – is respectful of the environment. We met them during a photoshoot in Marseille and found a lot in common, including a shared passion, as brands, for authenticity, durability and nature’s beauty.”

After a successful photoshoot together in La Ciotat in Southern France – releasing later this month – the pop-up collaboration is the latest step in a fruitful relationship between like-minded creatives. To find out more visit https://apneeswimwear.com/en/pages/histoire and www.saltoptics.com