Oliviero Zanon

Eyewear Ingenuity from Res/Rei

1st May 2013 On several occasions, I’ve been fortunate to have long chats with Italian designer Oliviero Zanon, who is an engaging conversationalist. He’s well versed on many subjects, and of course, one of his favourite topics is Res/Rei, the specialist eyewear design company he co-founded in 2011. Zanon shares with Eyestylist the background that led to the creation of Res/Rei.

“I went to university in London at Central Saint Martin College of Art and Design. I did a Foundation degree in Art and Design, and then a Products Design degree, graduating with first class honours. Central Saint Martin, in many ways, is different from any other University out there. Its uniqueness is in the “hands on” approach with things. The students are asked to do the whole design process, from research/idea to prototyping/manufacturing implementation. Getting your hands dirty building things in the workshop is an inspiring experience. After university, I started working as an industrial designer in London where I lived until 2010. I worked for IDEO London and Munich, an American consultancy that focus on Human Centered Design. This was a meaningful experience.”

Lucio - Limited Edition by Res/Rei
Lucio – Limited Edition by Res/Rei

“My encounter with the optic business was definitely by chance. The reason that led to the creation of Res/Rei is the will to work at close contact with artisans and producers. At one point in my design career, I was consulting mainly with blue chip clients, huge companies with thousands of employees. I couldn’t relate any more to the design process; it was too impersonal. I wanted a more human experience, and making frames was the answer. In this business you can control the whole process and interact with all the people involved – from manufacturers to final clients. It’s work but it feels like family…we are making so many new friends during our journey, and it is quite amazing.”


Teodosio by Oliviero Zanon for Res/Rei
Teodosio by Oliviero Zanon for Res/Rei

Res/Rei started in 2011 – in the midst of economic uncertainty. Did the economy ever make you “think twice” before starting the company? “Of course, the current economic crisis makes things more difficult, but it also creates opportunities, especially for new companies like ourselves. I know, this sounds like a cliché, but it is actually quite true. We are building our brand around firm ethical principles – like the sustainability of the manufacturing. Hopefully, most of our customers share the same vision with us. This gives us the opportunity to build a long lasting relationship with them.”

What inspires your designs? “Part of the inspiration comes from talking to other people that have meaningful experiences to share, mostly outside the optics business. Speaking of which, I’ve just spent a very inspiring day at the Milan Furniture Fair.”

MOREL par Jean Nouvel

Do you have a “profile” of a particular customer when you design? “Not really. We are not interested in following the stream. We are slowly building our unique identity. Of course, it takes time and you need to do lots of design interaction to become proficient as a brand, but eventually we will get there. It’s a different story with colours and shapes. On this matter,there is a clear distinction between men and women.”

Res/Rei is creating frames in acetate, metal/acetate and titanium – are there any other materials you would like to use? “Right now, we are experimenting with a new material nobody has used so far. But I can’t tell more about this – it’s top secret!” Photo of Oliviero Zanon exclusively for Eyestylist.com by Gilles Stüssi www.resrei.com JG