Profiles | May 11, 2017

Looking Forward

The Vanni eyewear brand is founded on the long and complex history of an artistic family, and is named after the grandfather who still is a source of inspiration

words Carolina Saporiti

Perspectives. They can often change, as they have for the Vitaloni family. Giovanni’s father and grandfather (the above-mentioned Vanni who is also his namesake) made rear-view mirrors, and Giovanni now makes spectacles. “We started out looking backwards and now we’re look forwards; we may have changed the direction we look in, but not our reliability or our stringent work practices,” says Giovanni. Impressions remain though, and Vanni left his impression not just on the name of the eyewear brand that was set up in 1990 in Turin, but also on the strong artistic vocation that has been the impetus for the Autofocus competition the brand has been running for the last ten years; “it’s not a marketing tool” says Giovanni, “in these historic times when so many brands are focusing on art, we can proudly say that we started using contemporary forms of artistic expression at a time when very few others were doing so. With Autofocus we have created an environment where young artists are nurtured and encouraged.” It’s a personal interest with Giovanni, as it was for his grandfather Vanni, who was also an artist, and it’s become a source of creative vitality and inspiration for the eyewear collections. More than just his preferences, Giovanni also shares the same DNA as his grandfather.

One of Vanni’s peculiarities that grew out of this artistic environment is the production of materials; as well as designing and making frames, the Turin-based company also manufactures acetates. Following the Raster and Flame collections this year, a new collection will be introduced at this year’s Mido event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of producing their own materials; “Wired is the 7th acetate design created exclusively for us by our design centre. It’s a contemporary design with interwoven coloured strands under a crystal plasma that accentuates the lines and the way they’re interwoven. It’s a metaphore for the world around us that’s criss-crossed with networks; a powerful convergence where nations and races, and therefore colours, come together,” Vitaloni explains.

A pair of Vanni glasses takes 9 months to produce altogether. This may seem a long time, but it incorporates the time spent developing the material. The preliminary stages take six months, working on the design and testing construction methods, and it takes another three months to complete the production process. Art provides a great deal of inspiration obviously, but influences also come from contemporary architecture, design and fashion, all within the context of retro styling. “Inspiration is the magical moment when all the visual and tactile elements come together harmoniously in a new combination.” Vanni like to define their production as limited edition industrial manufacturing rather than craftsmanship, “because it’s an engineering process similar to large-scale manufacturing; whilst the scale of our production is quite sizeable, it’s certainly not mass production.” Working on this scale gives them room to experiment, which just wouldn’t be viable on a larger scale, and it’s something Giovanni takes a certain pride in; “success is when production breaks away from the restricted scope of craftsmanship”. This is what prompted the new campaign we carried out in the most famous pizzerias in Naples; “touring around among the latest in-vogue pizza chefs we discovered the essence of industry in a limited run, which is precisely what we’re about.”