Tell us about your journey at Luxottica and where it has led you today.
I've worked for Luxottica for 27 years. At the end of the 80’s, I was studying Commercial Graphic Design in Venice, commuting from Padua. One day, a sign that I always used to see on display next to the train-departure block struck me in a particular way, like when something is in full view and you don’t look at it, but when you properly see it, it strikes a chord. It was a basic blue sign with LUXOTTICA written in white.
Once I finished my studies, I applied. I wanted to move into the mountain house that my family kept for the holidays with my partner, so I accepted a job in the painting department, since there were no open positions in commercial graphic design.
It was an experience that, while short, I’m happy to have gone through. It taught me to understand objectively how things are done and about all the care and precision required to produce an excellent product. But most of all, it taught me that at Luxottica every single process is essential and that people count: whoever does their job with passion is at the very top of their game.
6 months later came the turning point: I reapplied for a position that was more in line with my background and I was invited to an interview by Cavalier Francavilla. He asked me to bring him some illustrations of new models of glasses.
It went well and I began working as an industrial designer in the technical office in 1992.
Since then, I’ve worked on almost all of the brands in Luxottica’s portfolio. Thanks to the guidance of our President Leonardo Del Vecchio, Cavalier Francavilla and Claudio Renon, as well as the collaborative efforts of the product teams, I gradually learned about collection development, brand DNA and about the DNA of Luxottica itself when incorporating style codes.
In 2000, the portfolio began to expand at a faster rate, and I was often called upon to design new collections, and to identify distinctive features that, even today, remain relevant and iconic.
I think this journey has been the result of good guidance, close collaboration between departments, brainstorming inside and outside of the company, technical innovation, aesthetic research and market analysis, and the "courage” to express ideas, which is so fundamental to aesthetic innovation.
Today, I work with an international super team innovating in every area you can imagine: techniques-trends-CMF and Concept Design come together to fuel future collections with a forward-thinking approach, but also with existing solutions that are ready to use.
What are the key skills required by your role?
You have to be like a TV presenter: quick to take in information and spot opportunities, and quick to share them and visualise them aesthetically.
What is the most challenging project you have worked on? And how did it turn out?
I remember the first collection for a major American license holder. As well as dealing with the design part, I personally followed all the other stages (from prototyping to contacting the license owner) because, at that time, my boss, deputy and product PM were abroad for an important business trip. This gave me the opportunity to strengthen collaborative ties with those who were directly involved in creating the products.
The collection, which was presented in New York, was very well received. I remember that the creative director at the time said “Terrific!” (that in Italian sounds like dreadful) after each item was presented and it made me quiver. Given that my English wasn’t so perfect, I thought he was saying that they were dreadful! But later I learned that he meant “extraordinary”.
What advice would you give to university students or young professionals considering a career in design?
I would advise you to face your challenges in a calm, relaxed way. And if you’re not being challenged, I would recommend that you seek challenges or persevere in creating your own. Because the road to reaching your goals is the part that’s the most fun.
What does collaboration look like in your office?
Collaboration in our office is a line on a piece of paper, an image capable of providing inspiration, an object that you can touch, and colours and materials that you can bring together. We discuss imagery and the beauty of certain shapes, and how to bring them together whilst incorporating the technical features needed for a pair of glasses to function properly. We think about our end customers, while respecting the brand’s codes and values, and what they will want from their next pair of glasses.
Our “magic box” contains sociological research about technical and technological trends, benchmarks, sales feedback and, last but not least, there’s the archive (gallery); a priceless and boundless resource that we use for inspiration.
Have you worked with mentors within the company who have had a positive impact on your career?
I’ve been very lucky because there have been many.
Those who taught me to complete a project, scrap it and do it again more than 10 times and helped me to understand that there are many different points of view about one theme, that designers never rest and that new ideas can originate when you least expect them to. And ultimately, you have to know how to make choices.
Those who taught me to be brave in the ideas that I put forward, to be analytical but to work with a creative streak, and to look over everything at the end in order to choose the best options and apply the right finishing touches.
Those who taught me to be realistic in my illustrations, which must already look like a prototype.
Those who taught me how to deal with license-holders and suppliers with the security and expertise that this company provides.
Those who taught me how to manage several people at times dedicated purely to creativity.
Those who taught me to be analytical and to organise, schedule and keep financial records of projects.
Those who taught me about the beauty of storytelling and who knew how to ask about end results while instilling positivity.
And those who taught me that clear and transparent thinking naturally inspires people to work in a collaborative way that fosters growth.