Iconic 1980s

From Italian Journey to Made in Italy

No foreign literary work has contributed as much to building an imaginary of our country as the famous Italian Journey by the prolific German scholar J. W. Von Goethe, who travelled through Italy between 1786 and 1788, portraying it as an ideal place of beauty, suspended between the Eden-like dimension of its landscapes and the sublime inspiration of its art. It was not until the 1980s that this zeitgeist was transcended into matter. And while it is true that a decade later, the rock band Afterhours were singing that “You can’t get out alive from the 80s”, it was precisely in those years that Italy came back to the fore with a new identity: bold, industrious and organised with a production system recognised for its high quality and unmistakable style. The ‘Made in Italy’ concept, which took off in those years, decreed the success of an exquisitely Italian heritage, in many respects.

Retro forays into eyewear had feminine shapes. Cat-eye and elongated, but also slightly trapezoidal, in both dark and coloured tones, the influences of which follow certain collections produced by Marcolin

From fashion to design, from food to mechanics

There were four categories that defined the identity of an entire country: clothing, agri-food, furniture and automobiles. The designers who championed the ‘Made in Italy’ concept the most include the genius that was Gianfranco Ferré, known for the harmonious volumes of his creations, celebrated for the impeccable style of his pinstripe suits and for turning the shirt into a fetish. The women he imagined for his creations, at a time when the euphoria of prosperity was often overshadowed by superficial appearances, alluded to the rediscovery of their power. Women could aspire to top roles in society. Hence the formal style accompanied by the bold nature of their accessories. Retro forays into eyewear had feminine shapes: cat-eye and elongated, but also slightly trapezoidal, in both dark and coloured tones, the influences of which follow one another in the thread of the story, from the temples to the lenses, in certain collections produced by Marcolin.

Sometimes They Come Back

It is not only the title of one of the most significant short stories by Stephen King, the king of thrillers, published in Italy in 1981, that links the last gasps of the 1970s to the new era. The zeitgeist comes in wearing full revival silhouettes: these include the iconic round, coloured or tortoiseshell glasses inspired by Andy Warhol, appearing in the brightly coloured magazines, film sets and city streets of the West and of Italy full of ardour, as well as the famous teardrop lenses which made a comeback thanks to the films of an era seductive in terms of aesthetics and storylines. And it is with this spirit, conjuring up pages from books, archive footage and films, that Marcolin gave a voice to these atmospheres in its collections.

From fashion to design, from food to mechanics, four categories redefined the identity of the country: clothing, agri-food, furniture and automobiles. The Made in Italy concept took off in those years

Augmented Reality

A project of training and customer experience

Training for employees will rely on the potential of augmented reality technology, following up and developing the Marcolin Manufacturing Academy program: entering the heart of the creative and manufacturing departments wearing a virtual reality headset will be the easiest way to learn processes and skills for the creation of unique objects. Sabrina Paulon, Group HR Director at Marcolin, points out how this project, starting from its first phase within training for its employees, has been now expanded. «Extending the project also to our customer experience was quite natural for the company». Touching by hand the excellence of our production and transmitting knowledge about identity and uniqueness of the creative process, among craftsmanship, technological innovation and manufacturing 4.0, is part of this experience. Customers and partners worldwide, thanks to all-around environments through video footage, will shorten distances and will have a remote access to the Italian factories.

The headset offers an immersive experience in the Longarone headquarters, where the company was founded in 1961 and the Fortogna production facilities

Augmented reality

Once worn, the headset offers an immersive experience in the Longarone headquarters, where the company was founded in 1961, and the Fortogna production facilities. Immersive mode is based on a technology that gives the user a complete view of a space from a stand position. The environments to be explored are those relating to production: from the creative process to prototyping, followed by manufacturing steps, and ending with the product distribution. The last sequence of this journey through Marcolin’s world ends with a sale inside an opticians’ store.

Every environment has its own special object to meet. What makes this immersive experience, which can be enjoyed conveniently anywhere in the world

Interact with objects

In each of these environments, there is an object to interact with. Looking at it and having a tactile experience is part of the project’s immersive suggestions. What could the object be? The unique result of Marcolin’s inventiveness: extraordinary pieces from the collections, the craftsmanship of a design detail or production stage, or even the detail of a pair of glasses going from their unfinished state through the manufacturing process. Every environment has its own special object to meet. What makes this immersive experience, which can be enjoyed conveniently anywhere in the world, truly unique is not only the pre-recorded voice guiding the user through the manufacturing process. A live version will soon be available in which customers and partners will be able to be accompanied by a representative from Marcolin who, via a remote connection, will make the experience even more customisable, tailored to the needs of the individual customer, partner or simple Marcolin brand enthusiast.

The eclectic 1970s

Star issues

This is what we could call the themes, like the echoes of the famous (star) wars by director George Lucas, that marked the decade: amidst new intergalactic and imaginary spaces to be explored, political and social revolutions that defined its contours through the renewal of taste and lifestyle of an era that was revolutionary in many ways. This turmoil, which was linked to the revolutions of the previous decade through a contradictory sense of defeat and victory at the same time by those involved in the counterculture, rediscovered an individualism that tended to express itself in eccentricities: from the serial and irreverent art of Andy Warhol to the disturbing sounds of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, through to Elton John and David Bowie, who with unparalleled originality sang of the unknown of another space beyond the earth. And in terms of design, how did this turmoil permeate everyday spaces and accessories? Through a revolution of taste with unequivocal intent.

Catalysing what we see

The identity of the decade shifted from the world of ideas to the world of design with a significant post-modern twist. It was the clean, essential lines of the world of objects, particularly those relating to lighting – with the consecration of the immaculate white pendant lamps – that were juxtaposed with imaginative, typically optical effects, the result of influences from the world of psychedelia still in vogue, characterising the geometric shapes of the brightly coloured wallpapers that decorated homes. The destiny of colours seemed tied in with that of shapes artfully constructed to deceive the eye: optical art, which originated at the end of the 1960s, developed and found the best framework to express itself in the decade that followed, combining two colours in particular: black and white, the matching of which gave way to its most congenial use in fashion and accessories. The mood board of this style, with its nods to science fiction, also through the use of oversized glasses with a printed effect, is well captured in the video clip created by Jack Whiteley and Laura Brownhill for the song Bennie and The Jets, by Elton John, who at that time was intent on carving out a place for himself in the temple of style: performing in front of an audience with flashy sunglasses, richly decorated even at sunset, becoming a viaticum for the iconography of an era. But it was the boldly shaped and brightly coloured glasses that best represented the ironic and eagerly light-hearted tones of that current of taste, the offspring of those flowers we all know, which helped give a new impetus to the objects and interior design of the period. The close link claimed by the revival of oriental philosophies and the need for a sense of wellbeing linked to a state of nature is imbued with the trend that still influences Marcolin’s most glamorous and luxury collections, with their bold shapes and pastel colours.

It was the boldly shaped and brightly coloured glasses that best represented the ironic and eagerly light-hearted tones of that current of taste, the offspring of those flowers we all know

Experimenting with new materials

Just like designers of the decade, turning to new shapes and materials. From pop culture and the world of animation came mouths, hands, vegetables to be transformed into the most eclectic of seats. From the desire to experiment, however, came the need to focus on new materials. Even controversial ones. This is not the case with foam rubber – the forerunner of polyurethane foam – but with plastic, regarding the use of which the two opposite poles of the counterculture clashed: the hippy one, which abhorred the very word because “…plastic was used for mass-produced objects, easy to manipulate and lacking in authenticity. Plastic people had the same attributes,” as Ken Goffman wrote in his book Counterculture Through the Ages. In contrast, for Warhol, plastic possessed qualities: flexibility, mutability, variability. “In the realm of authenticity, flexibility can be suspect,” Goffman continued, pointing out the contrast in aesthetics and thinking of a highly contradictory decade, which prompted part of the hippy movement to follow Warhol’s eccentric variability, characterised by his ironic detachment. After all, the artist went down in history for being attracted by money, fame and superficial beauty.

From the idea to the prototype

Everything stems from an idea

Accompanied by our expert guide Simone Longo, who is the Prototyping Manager for Marcolin Group worldwide, we discover that in the creation of a pair of glasses with a unique design and a perfect fit, there is an intermediate part of the process which, like a bridge between two worlds, verifies the feasibility of an idea and can prevent any errors in the subsequent production phase. Prototyping is very close to the concept of virtuosity and does what is expected of someone who is used to experimenting: combining a high degree of technical skill and experience with a virtue linked to a dimension of the soul, empathy. “For us, everything starts with the idea, established through an aesthetic drawing or a draft, from the designer or brand,” explains Longo. For an idea to be transformed into a product, it is vital to be able to capture its essence, that unique matrix to which a body can then be given. It is the understanding of the message to be communicated that allows the prototype maker to proceed to the next stage of the prototype production process.

Prototyping is very close to the concept of virtuosity and does what is expected of someone who is used to experimenting: combining a high degree of technical skill and experience with empathy

Project feasibility

“Starting with the sketch of the idea, we produce an initial 2D drawing that leads to a preliminary discussion with the designer. The critical aspects of a project are already emerging at this stage. Only afterwards is the 3D model made, with which the technical correctness and compliance with the aesthetic requirement is checked in detail,” Longo continues, moving inside that special world.
It is divided into two areas: the first is the design part, in which experienced technicians develop the design using the latest technologies such as 3D printers, and they also mill the materials. The second, on the other hand, is characterised by the craftsmanship of the artisans, operators who, with the help of numerous small machines, assemble the glasses and give that final touch of sensitivity that contributes to making the end result special. The prototype department must be able to develop any type of machining required, with the ability to have control over quality and meet deadlines.

For us, everything starts with the idea, established through an aesthetic drawing or a draft, from the designer or brand. For an idea to be transformed into a product, it is vital to be able to capture that unique matrix to which a body can then be given

Prototyping is a multi-lane motorway

This is how Longo imagines it. “In one lane we have maintained and enhanced craftsmanship, whose approach leaves more room for the sensitivity of the prototype maker. The other lanes, on the other hand, are reserved for the development of paths leading towards virtual reality and new technologies. It is often the brands themselves that prompt us, by means of projects which we know from the outset will not go into production, but which will give us the opportunity to test out new production methods.” The use of 3D printing has proved successful in two ways. Firstly, because a preview of a prototype provides an opportunity for dialogue with the designer, reducing reworking, wasted material and time. Secondly because it has made it possible to simulate stages of production that it would not be possible to use for reasons of cost and time in a very short time frame. Research and the desire to experiment are ongoing goals, pushing us towards ever greater targets: to have all stages of development taking place in-house, with the best possible output in order to ensure high quality and on-time delivery. Working on strategic areas has always been one of Marcolin Group’s key strengths.

New MetaHumanism

Every idea is like the wind

Moved by different stimuli, it translates desires and needs into style. The approach to creation, according to the Marcolin Group’s Style and Development Department, is two-pronged. The first is emotional, about how what we see of a pair of glasses tells its story through style codes, logos, details, structures and shapes. These are the cornerstones of a collection which, if maintained over time, build up a brand’s recognisability. The creation of these codes defines the action of a creative team focused on micro-areas. The hidden face of eyewear creation, on the other hand, refers to the second approach and measures itself against an idea of community immersed in the historical moment it inhabits. It is this world, encompassing thoughts, needs, desires and, at times, even fears, that is defined as a trend and, in turn, translated into style. The Marcolin Group’s Style Department has identified three trendsetting tendencies i.e. the trends of tomorrow. After the Bauhaus inspiration, defined previously, we discover the other two macro-areas that recur evolving over the years.

Metaverse and digital engagement

In a post-pandemic world that has seen a change in the relationship with technologies in individuals’ daily lives and the need for wellbeing, the concept of purely digital engagement defines the needs of a multitude of voices belonging mostly to the younger generations. To which earthly universe can this trend be traced? To the Metaverse, of course, which has become a place of refuge for many where fantasy reigns supreme. It is from this dimension that the tendency inherits its name, the Digital Urban Movement Metaverse to be exact. The needs of this trend group can be expressed in percentages and speak volumes: 70% of their needs travel online and speak the language of technology. From this trend, for example, digital fashion shows, the creation of prototypes or very special collector’s models (such as the Frida model) and even the reproduction of eyewear in digital form have been fully developed. The wellbeing of this type of trend, which accounts for 30% of those needs, translates into a commitment to protect the environment, which in recent years has come back to the attention of the planet’s leaders as a result of high-impact events. The anxieties of the new generations have also been translated into the return of certain creepy design details: the use of materials with a dark, shiny surface, or the metallic finish of certain collections, for example, hark back to the tradition linked to the world of the fantastic, from Gothic to fantasy.

The Metaverse has become a place of refuge for many. Materials with a dark, shiny surface, or the metallic finish of certain collections hark back to the tradition linked to the world of the fantasy.

New Humanism

This tendency includes the style codes that rely on an established history and strong brand recognition. The aesthetic and mental references of this trend can be found in the 1970s. In terms of shapes, the most recurring are large, enveloping ones, while the colours are in the pastel range. The brands that are part of this trend embody a very natural form of luxury, underpinned by what the Marcolin Group’s creative team has circumscribed into a precise ‘Green Attitude’: the all-round need, starting with the use of recycled materials, to create with zero impact, to move towards a non-invasive but natural aesthetic. It is no coincidence that the requirements of this tendency, in terms of needs, turn previous trends on their heads: 70% of the needs of this trend are concerned with wellbeing, only 30% with technology. And framing this desire is a further luxury that translates style into harmony, conjuring up the idea of a Paradise Lost where nature reigns unchallenged.

The Great Cosmic Mother

A collaboration between the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and Modern Art Oxford

The stories we love are usually those that we somehow consider close to our world. On the contrary, the discoveries catapult us into scenarios far removed from our own reality. And yet they captivate us. A bit like the art of Monica Sjöö, whose story offers insights into hot topics such as, above all, gender equality. This is a topic very close to Marcolin’s heart, as since its foundation, the company has been committed to supporting gender policies in the broadest sense and actions aimed at promoting a work-life balance. From the very beginning, we chose to prevent female workers first and foremost, who by choice or necessity decided to take care of their families, from leaving their jobs. Over time and as new challenges have arisen, we have set up pathways to support parenting alongside the inclusion and empowerment of women, which Sabrina Paulon, Group HR Director of Marcolin, has already talked about. The idea to tell you about The Great Cosmic Mother came about from an interregnum combining the similarities and quality of the discovery of this Swedish artist. A unique journey that brings together three inseparable and interconnected elements of Monica Sjöö’s world: art, politics and spirituality.

The first retrospective on Monica Sjöö is a collaboration between the Moderna Museet and Modern Art Oxford. It was curated by Jo Widoff and Amy Budd

When God was a woman: the legend of the Great Mother as a spiritual legacy

If the principle of all thought is measured in words, Monica’s is connected to Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, understood as the creative principle of the world, reflected in a woman’s body. It is precisely this painted idea that unites the cycles of nature with motherhood, which, descending into ritual practices close to paganism, make Monica Sjöö’s art disruptive. What she puts on stage is not a fairytale, and the canvas God Giving Birth (1968) offers up an unequivocal translation of feminist iconography: God is a woman intent on giving birth. Inspired by the experience of the birth of her second son, the work, accused of blasphemy and obscenity, goes on to be censored and removed wherever it is exhibited. Today, it is part of a collection of 50 works, including the mystical suggestions of large canvases and wall paintings, as well as the protest posters that accompanied the artist on her environmental and peace marches as early as the late 1960s.

From Sweden to the United Kingdom

Like many artists, Monica Sjöö experienced a personal parable that led her beyond the confines of home. Born in Härnösand, in the Swedish county of Västernorrland in 1938, she found her way to emancipation in Bristol, where she moved after meeting her British future husband, Stevan Trickey, in Paris. The traumatic experience of giving birth to their first child in a Swedish hospital was a subject of personal exploration until the catharsis of the birth of her other two children in the more reassuring confines of her home. In Bristol, in 1964, Monica exhibited her first abstract canvases, thus initiating her commitment to feminist and pacifist movements. It was a rite of passage that brought her into contact with the civilised and radical circles of her time: from the protests against the war in Vietnam through the liberation marches of the women’s movements, which saw the freedom of the individual, regardless of sex, gender or class, as an inalienable right. The exhibition documented the artist’s all-round commitment, delivering to the public the portrait of a woman whose art is poetic, controversial and never banal, radical and poignant – like the canvas to which she entrusts her grief over the death of her youngest son, Lament for my Young Son, the first of a long series – and forces reflection. The Moderna Museet in Stockholm, in collaboration with Modern Art Oxford, has established a common thread between Monica Sjöö’s ecologist and feminist action and the contemporary Fridays for Future movement, created by another, much better-known Swede, Greta Thunberg. Due to its topics and original narrative, the exhibition could not leave a company like Marcolin indifferent. You have until 15 October to see it in Stockholm.

Elisa Lovatello


How can we define a Cool Hunter and their skills?

A Cool Hunter identifies styles having potential future developments. Research touches on a variety of industries: from food to culture, from fashion to design up to social phenomena and technology. Their education background is varied: they can be photographers, creatives – often designers and content creators, but also journalists, writers, or academic researchers. In any case, a Cool Hunter is not only a very curious and intuitive person, but someone who also has great communication skills and powers of observation with respect to a complex reality having countless influences.


What does it mean to be a Cool Hunter at a company like Marcolin?

It means to give a sound structure to a multitude of external inputs that only in the final research phase have to do with style. Being a Cool Hunter means to translate future trends, which are nothing more than preferences, ideas, needs and, first of all, attitudes and states of mind that are still in the embryonic stage and whose analysis brings together sociological and philosophical aspects of our reality. To exercise this extremely intuitive profession at a company like Marcolin, whose creative tension aims to give form to beauty and functionality, you also need to have a clear vision of what was produced in the past in a variety of fields: from the world of cinema to art, from design to books, and fashion of course. The horizon that we call “future” is often intertwined with echoes from the past.


Is there any inspiration that guides your research in eyewear?

I’ve had a strong passion for Street Dance since I was a kid, a passion that goes hand in hand with my background as a musician. That is why I’ve always watched with perhaps out-of-the-ordinary interest the music video clips that, starting from the 1980s, have integrated artists’ songs. Sometimes it’s the video itself – effective from both a storytelling and an aesthetic standpoint – that turns a song into a hit. My passion for music pushed me to conduct a study on music influences in the 1900s in different sectors of our society. I had just joined the company and I wanted to refine a method that I could apply to my job as a creative at Marcolin. I conducted this analysis off the clock, by also involving my colleagues. I can say that by reworking my trend research – which resulted in the identification of three big ever-evolving and multifaceted trends often regarding emotions rather than aesthetic elements – I was able to anticipate, for example, the advent of Trap music ahead of time, or the influence, on shapes and colors, of the historical and aesthetic heritages of those brands having unique stories to tell.

The 1960s

Stars sparkle like diamonds

The Misfits, directed by John Houston and released in 1961, made history for various reasons. Firstly, because the film stars Marilyn Monroe and was written by her husband playwright Arthur Miller, as his first and only script. Secondly, because it also features Clark Gable, who had never worked with Marilyn Monroe before. As a final addition to this stellar cast – specifically assembled to promote the film written by Miller – comes Montgomery Clift. Today, for the first time ever, the public can view, set against the breathtaking backdrop of Forte di Bard (AO), a story within a story, thanks to discreet and never intrusive shots from the archives of the celebrated Magnum agency. The shots depict the behind-the-scenes of a movie shadowed by the fame and personal life of its main characters (film icon Marilyn Monroe more than anyone, who at the time was going through the end of her troubled relationship with Arthur Miller – the couple in fact officially announced their divorce after the shooting). The exhibition, open until September 17, 2023, offers the typical behind-the-scenes graceful approach, a peek at the atmosphere and energy of a unique mix of scenic fiction and vivid emotions.

A small group of photographers with a great personality had exclusive access to the movie set. Every one of them documented, with their own style, the film shooting

Nine brilliant photographers on stage

A small group of photographers with a great personality had exclusive access to the movie set: Eve Arnold, Cornell Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Ernst Haas, Erich Hartmann, Inge Morath and Dennis Stock. Every one of them documented, with their own style, the film shooting. The exhibition showcases 60 shots, as a tribute to the decade to which it refers, the 1960s, when the wind of change was blowing in America, shining the spotlight on youth protest movements. Western movies that were so popular in the 1940s and 1950s were now out of fashion; Arthur Miller knew it and so he chose a very personal approach to his script. Magnum Photos also wanted to be part of the change and welcomed the first woman photographer aboard: Eve Arnold, whose backstage shots of The Misfits are featured in this article as they really capture and express Marilyn Monroe’s emotional authenticity on and off stage.

The classic dark cat-eye or butterfly sunglasses that were so popular at the time featured the typical shapes that were considered real style must-haves and that are now back in fashion in the Marcolin collections

A timeless style

The diva, instead, the one who was born when she changed her name to Marilyn Monroe, expressed herself with seductive femininity – an allure that in the 1950s the Hollywood industry had already built around other icons of the time, from Elisabeth Taylor to Ava Gardner. After all, the audience just wanted to dream and the post-war period provided fertile ground for the codification, also in aesthetic terms, of a diva status that would continue until the 1960s. The classic dark cat-eye or butterfly sunglasses that were so popular at the time featured the typical shapes that were considered real style must-haves and that are now back in fashion in the Marcolin collections. In fact, in the shots featuring Marilyn in New York City on the day after her divorce announcement from Arthur Miller, she is captured forever wearing a pair of dark cat-eye sunglasses, her face framed by a classic white scarf, perhaps shielding her, like never before, from the tough outside world.