Cristiano Ferilli is a qualified ophthalmologist by day and a designer by night. If that alone doesn’t strike you as an accomplishment, Cristiano founded Ferilli Eyewear; the first eyewear brand to use cactus fibre – Sikalindi – in the manufacture of their Italian-made frames.
Cristiano, you speak of falling in love with the world of eyewear at the age of sixteen – forgive me if this is a backwards notion, but it’s perhaps quite an unusual attraction for a young boy to develop at such an age – how did this passion first ignite? When you’re a 16-year-old boy, I believe that you normally have a secret wish in life – it’s up to you to truly believe in that wish and make it come true. I think what pushed me back then was attending the Mido 2010 trade show and seeing so many sunglasses made with different kinds of materials. I said to myself then that when I was older, I would discover my own material to create my sunglasses.
Would you be able to tell us a little about your career path, did you always envision yourself working within the fashion industry? No, not at all. After getting an optician’s diploma at high school, I graduated with a degree in Orthoptic and Ophthalmologic Assistance, continuing that career path in clinics and hospitals. However, right after university I made my first sunglasses collection; I believed in it so passionately that Ferilli Eyewear has become my job today. While I’m busy with work as an orthoptist in a clinic, I’m also committed to creative projects as a designer for my brand.
How is it that your brand Ferilli goes beyond the concept of ‘just an accessory’? Prickly pear fibre creates a very particular pattern on every frame. I like to think that they are not just sunglasses, but they can be considered a fully-fledged design element that add a unique touch to a look, and that they are a distinctive feature that help define the wearer’s personality. Moreover, I care about the functionality of my sunglasses, not only about their design, and this applies also to the choice of lens.
Being the only brand of eyewear that uses Sikalindi is an amazing claim to be able to make, especially in an industry where the consumer is growing more aware of the impact of their purchases, and many brands are trying to find the newest, most innovative way to forge a sustainable future – tell us a bit more about producing frames with Sikalindi? In the region where I live – Puglia, in southern Italy – prickly pears are fast-growing plants, and sometimes there are so many of them that entire areas need to be cut down and thinned out. To obtain the fibre itself, we dehydrate the leaves of the plants through various physical processes – but without using chemical agents or pollutants. In this way we can extract the material we need, while respecting the environment and the natural cycle of the plant.
I assume you subscribe to the idea that the consumer needs to ‘buy smart’ and ‘buy less’ in order for our planet and resources to survive? Why should the consumer invest in a pair of Ferilli sunglasses, in your opinion? Our products guarantee functionality from a technical point of view and they are made with a unique, sustainable material. Our aim is to be creative and innovative producing naturally beautiful sunglasses that respect the environment.
Finally, your website says that you hope to develop some new ‘sparkling ideas’ in the future – is there anything on the horizon? I can tell you that the prickly pear fibre will be incorporated into other materials, and we are meticulously studying new models that will amaze you!
To find out more about Ferilli visit www.ferillieyewear.com. Interview by Victoria G. L. Brunton exclusively for Eyestylist.com