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Designs for life

Optician sits down with Marcolin’s design department to learn more about the company’s creative process

Design is the cornerstone of Marcolin’s business. Manufacturing and distribution rely on accurately reflecting both the fashion zeitgeist of the time and tapping into the DNA of the brand partners that patients recognise and love.

The design team at company headquarters in Longarone have a difficult task on their hands achieving this combination of predicting future trends and maintaining brand values, but the group of expert creatives are well-skilled in their craft, which has changed massively in recent years.

Gone are the days of simple designs and narrow selections of colours. Frame design at the turn of the decade is a far-reaching multifactorial project that fuses modern creative technology and manufacturing capability with organic inspiration. Marcolin’s designers favour taking inspirations from very different sources. From music to architecture, through trips abroad to the trend-setting cities, attending trade shows and receiving creative inputs direct from the fashion house partners the company works with.

The most natural way for this inspiration process to be realised is through digitised, hand-drawn sketches and mood boards that collate visual references on colours, trends and anything else that may influence a designer’s ideas. This part of the creative process is one of the most exciting, but also the most laborious, as a huge number of drawings are analysed by creative directors and slowly filtered down.

The most interesting and representative styles then move to the CAD designers, where ideas can begin the journey from technical project to physical prototype. It’s here that technology begins to play with the ideas from a designer’s mind. Through 3D printing, the company can quickly experiment and assess technical elements but more importantly, how the product looks on a face. While 3D printing is used for rapid prototyping, there is no substitute for the deft skill of an artisan. With the design department, a team of craftsmen turn the hi-tech ideas and prototypes into high quality, handcrafted frames that convey Marcolin’s high production values – to call them prototypes seems rather unfair.

Collaboration

After the internal selection process, the company then consults its brand partners on potential designs. It’s here where Marcolin’s clients have the opportunity to really assess whether the DNA of their brand has been captured in each frame design. The company says it’s incredibly proud of the relationships it has forged with its license partners and has been achieved through keeping the partner involved with every part of the design process – but especially this early stage where ideas and concepts can flow reciprocally.

Mood boards collate visual references from fashion, travel and beyond

Creative input from brands can take a number of different forms. Austrian crystal producer Swarovski works closely with Marcolin to offer insights into future design aesthetics and directions so the same concepts can come to market together at the same time. The Tom Ford brand has been a long-term partner of Marcolin and the founder and designer himself will be heavily involved in the process of defining the new eyewear collections – there is no better way to ensure a joined-up aesthetic than to work with the creative director. It’s this open and collaborative creative process that has kept Tom Ford and Marcolin in partnership for such a long time and why their agreement is scheduled to run until the end of the next decade and beyond.

Trendsetters

Marcolin has a well-earned reputation as a company that dictates eyewear trends rather than follows them. So, what trends can opticians expect over the course of the next 12 months? Designers tell Optician that cross-pollination of trends and disciplines is likely to be front of mind for consumers. While this is exciting for creativity, it means eyewear fashion is moving into a period where trends will move faster and take influences from other trends so predicting trends 100% accurately will become much harder. That said, the sport influence on fashion is one of the strongest trends seen by company designers. Sport and fashion are becoming ever more closely intertwined with as much focus on luxury materials and aesthetic needs as there would be on outright performance. Another ongoing trend will be modern retro, where designers reinterpret vintage designs and silhouettes in using modern production techniques and the DNA of modern brands.

Maintaining reputation is down its people, says the company, and describes them as incredibly passionate. Each member of staff, including those in the design team, believes in the success of the company. Among designers, this belief allows them to bring the fresh ideas to the market and guarantee the best possible product for opticians and their customers.