BUDRI Eyewear

Author: Alessandra Albarello

Brand Profile
February 22, 2017

Gianmarco Budri, CEO and Alessandra Malagoli


Alessandra Albarello talks to Alessandra Malagoli and Gianmarco Budri on a visit to Budri Intarsio Italiano

“My absolute dream? To succeed in making marble eyewear,” says Gianmarco Budri defining the adventure he embarked on with his wife Alessandra Malagoli. Close to impossible challenges are part of the DNA of Budri, founded in 1960 by Enzo Budri, the father of Gianmarco. With his sense of adventure and vision for the future he transformed a symbol of excellence - made in Italy – within the sector of marble and natural stone production. In 1991 Gianmarco Budri acquired the first Waterjet Machine, a revolutionary plant which made it possible to cut marble in new ways. Budri experimented with design innovations and received important recognition and awards including, in 2015, the Best Communicator Award for the “Papiro Collection”, in a collaboration with Patricia Urquiola. The originality and cultural context of the material are fundamental also to the eyewear collection, designed by Valerio Cometti.

\\ Model Bernini in Nero Portoro marble

Q: Marble is symbolic in the Italian artistic tradition. How did you translate this heritage in the eyewear collection?

A: For 60 years we have been nurturing a passion for marble. It is a great honour to work with this natural material. One of our fundamental principles is to respect the material, transforming it through innovation. We began this process in 2009 with the introduction of a variety of different design projects.

Q: Marble is often associated with the concept of weight. With Patricia Urquiola you have revolutionised this belief. How did you do this?

A: We started to work with Patricia Urquiola in 2009. To work on marble in the context of lightness, it was necessary to forget all pre-conceived ideas and abandon any reservations, and to begin a journey of research and innovation. This has allowed us to be able to create marble eyewear weighing just 36 grams.

Q: Ancient artisan techniques and avantgarde technology. Highlight what is fundemental to this project.

A: The creation of the product starts in the marble caves. The block is reduced to a piece of marble measuring around 30 cm. From this, the frame is cut out using an exclusive extrusion process. You are left with a very thin sheet of marble.

We combine this with a specially
developed fibre which gives extra strength and flexibility. All the different details of
the frame are then worked on so that it is possible to insert the lenses and the hinges. This is the most complex phase of the production process.

Furthermore, since the temple tips cannot be heated for adjustments, we have created two different temple lengths to ensure the optician can adapt the product for every customer. 

Gianmarco Budri, CEO and Valerio Cometti, design

Q: When did the project get underway?

A: In 2011, just before the earthquake, when we were preparing for the marble fair -Marmomacc. A piece of inlay, like a piece of lace, fell on the floor and part of it looked like a pair of glasses. We started to think about an eyewear project but we were interrupted after the earthquake. The extreme damage made it necessary to move out of our headquarters until the end of 2013. We returned in January 2014 to a completely new building.

Q: How did you make the marble more robust?

A: The supporting fibre produces this strength. We have developed this ourselves. The marble structure, being very thin could otherwise not be easily moved and manipulated. 

Q: A marble frame by Budri costs around 2.300 euros. Beyond the price, what is the luxury concept that you wish to create?

A: Marble is unique and precious. Each frame is different from the next and originates from a different place. A frame in Verde Alpi marble has come from the mountains of Gressoney. Within our collection we have chosen to use many  Italian materials and with this we have therefore made a correlation in the names of the frames with Donatello, Bernini, Michelangelo, Canova and Palladio.  

\\ Model Canova in Lapis Lazuli

Q: Which is the most precious model?

A: The unisex model we will present at Mido – which is produced in a limited edition of 15  styles. This is a very rare marble from Turkey with an incredible colour. Model Palladio Aviator will also be presented in a beautiful forest green tone.

It has been a very ambitious project that we have only been able to achieve with the know-how of the company. 

Q: Tell us about the launch?

A: Valerio Cometti, designer, Budri Eyewear and owner of Valerio Cometti+V12 design, Milan

At the start we could not imagine how a material like marble could be used to make eyewear.  It has been a very ambitious project that we have only been able to achieve with the know-how of the company. We have a competent team, including some individuals from the eyewear industry. At Silmo, where we launched in 2016, the reaction to the ergonomic aspects of the frames was excellent. The achievements in comfort and fit are key factors for the optician. 

Q: How does the material effect the “form” of the frame?

A: The particular shapes and minimal thickness are tangible proof of the fact that we are working with the unique features of the marble without compromise. From the start we wanted to ensure we would be able to produce optical designs with a system that makes it possible to insert the lenses. We now have five models in the optical collection and this will evolve with time, with new designs that will also appeal to a younger customer.

Q: What are your main sources of inspiration?

A: A knowledge of the eyewear industry and a careful observation of  the final consumer we wish to reach. 

Q: What additional value does marble have in eyewear?

A: Unique qualities and authenticity. This is something in which we believe strongly. Every material has its individual values. Marble in our view highlights the wearer, and their taste for quality and appreciation for minute details.

Q: How much has your work in mechanical engineering had an influence on this complex project?

A: It is fundamental, because with this approach we are alway keen to monitor what we do, with a continuous relationship with our clients in order to be able to adapt the product according to every individual piece of feedback. 

Q: What does it mean to listen to, understand and interpret marble?

A: It is not just about pattern or colours. Every material has specific characteristics and we have been working with marble for a very long time in order to understand it completely.
For example we have done extreme testing in thicknesses of marble to reach a level of excellence. I don’t think anyone else has done this level of research on this natural material.




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