History & heritage: Ottica Casoni, Modena

A family-owned store with a rich past – officially listed by the Province of Modena with the title “Bottega Storica” (Historic Artisan Store) of Emilia Romagna

With an historic architectural style that is typical of the city, Ottica Casoni is located in an impressive palazzo building which offers elegant warm colours and distinctive porticos. Formally the French embassy in the 1800s, the location was first turned into an optical shop in 1933 by two young women.

Giovanni Casoni, the first member of the Casoni family to work in the optical business and at this very location, graduated as an optician in Emilia in 1946. After a short stint working in eyewear production, he decided to take over the shop from the previous owners in the 1950s, and he grew and directed the family business until his son Roberto took over in the 1980s. Today, brothers Emanuele and Alessandro, the 3rd generation of the Casoni family to be involved with the business – are running the store together, with passion for and dedication to some of the finest eyewear brands from around the world.

Interior: in 2016, the interior was renovated to present its rich history

The shop was last renovated and redesigned in 2016, Alessandro told Eyestylist. “We’d been thinking about it for a while. And we gradually have managed to update the interior to what you see today. We wanted to resurrect different elements of the interior of the past…gradually adding some of the items and instruments used by our grandfather – in order to create a special point of interest and to take a look back in time at how our store looked in those previous times. The final project to make it a reality came through our collaboration with the designer Dino “Neropaco” who created a perfect harmony between the history and modern day/avantgarde.”

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Interior; balancing historic Italian grandeur with contemporary design

A love for fine eyewear design is immediately evident in this shop, and in its tastefully edited social media posts that first caught our eye several years ago. Alessandro adds, ” A love for eyewear is part of who we are, and something we’ve inherited from our family. Our interest has evolved because we are curious and we enjoy finding out more and traveling to international fairs…this has allowed us to come across some marvelous projects which always impress us, whether it’s the innovative crafting, an original form, or an extraordinary precision in the details.”

Traditions of the past – a corner for frame adjustments with vintage style fittings and old-fashioned tools

Today, Ottica Casoni offers independent eyewear brands from around the world, including Anne & Valentin, AKONI Haffmans & Neumeister, Piero Massaro, JMM, and Lesca curated as a special selection because “each collection has its own unique identity which makes it recognisable and different from the other ones.” One of the latest to be added was the Italian designer Piero Massaro, who works with skill in multi-layered acetate designs. Asked about sustainable materials, the brothers added that they have decided to dedicate more space within the selection they offer to limited small-scale production and designers using sustainable materials, recycled packaging and sustainable practices that are based on low waste.

Via Luigi Carlo Farini, 65, Modena, Italy