The boutique-workshop where the eyewear “couturier” Sandro Gonnella creates his bespoke glasses is hidden in one of the medieval streets of Perugia’s historic centre.

Can you tell us about your story?

I have always been a lover of the arts and have been educated to observe all the beauty that surrounds me. Walking around the world with my head up and exploiting my curiosity for the tiniest details, I have refined my attitude toward research, which has become the very foundation of my work. Nothing new will ever be done unless you are curious and love research: I have learnt that the real secret lies in loving what you do. Now I match my passion with my love for my work and for refinement, condensing them into my eyewear.

How did you start your activity and what was your professional training?

I started Ozona, my company of bespoke eyewear, in 2006. Before that, I graduated from IED in June 2003, and in July I entered the Marcolin company for an internship, and that is where I started designing eyewear. After that period, though, I concluded I did not wish to work in an office, quite the opposite. I had always envisaged my future as a self-employed professional, without anyone watching me and telling me what to do. Therefore, I left Treviso, where the Marcolin creative office was based, and I went back to Umbria, where I started designing eyewear for a small firm until, in late 2004, I decided it was high time for me to start designing my own eyewear and launch my own brand. I had realised that established firms had no space for “original” design, aimed at specific customers. It was clear to me that mass-produced eyewear may fit everybody but basically cannot really fit anyone.

That is why, in early 2005, I started to lie the foundations for the very first bespoke eyewear worldwide and this is how “OZONA: l’occhiale Sartoriale" was established.

How do you build your couture eyewear?

Like bespoke garments, shirts, or shoes. Starting from the customer’s idea, I work out a number of projects which, later, I fine-tune according to the customer’s facial features. “Couture” eyewear is the ultimate expression of a customised, exclusive creation process. There are no limits to imagination: inlaying, precious stones, any line can be realised provided the basic rules are respected.

What are the models you get inspired by?

I think inspiration is a vague concept, I do not think there can be a formula for it. I normally start from my own passions. I love of the arts, like painting, sculpture and architecture, but daily life observation, besides combination of forms and colours, is definitely my starting point. I could also start from a shadow that I see out of the corner of my eye, or a flash of light which is being reflected by a car glass and is projecting a form on a wall, so I say to myself: “Look, how beautiful!”, surprising the people who are with me. Crisscrossing lines may unleash my fancy and give rise to an object that will become real, some sort of magic.

Sometimes, while I am walking, I stop to take notes or voice memos. I do not look for inspiration, it comes on its own, unexpectedly. Or it may come from a sound which, along with a shadow, becomes a “real creation”.

Who are your clients?

Men and women who care about details, who are determined to be who they really are, who do not want to represent a brand by wearing eyeglasses with huge logos, like belt buckles: they are jazz stars, stage actors, Academy Award winners or friends. A couture eyewear is a part of the man or woman who is wearing it, like a tattoo: there is no specific clientele, only a character-linked typology. People who want to acquire a couture eyewear have strong personalities and know how to make themselves remarkable without overdoing it.

Do you think young people may be interested in undertaking this activity?

They are certainly interested: we have started the first school of “Alta Sartoria dell’Occhiale” along with Perugia’s IID; the first course began in April, with only a limited number of participants, no more than seven per course. After the remarkable interest raised as Maestro Occhialaio in the Samsung Maestros Academy project, there was such a significant demand for new courses, that I decided to share my knowledge and my secrets about Alta Sartoria dell’Occhiale. The world of eyewear is undergoing an evolution of its own, and I wish to step back and retrace its traditional artisan origins by realising custom-made eyewear for individual customers.

Course students will be introduced to a new way of looking at eyewear. They will learn the basics of the art, including creative aspects and technical and commercial issues. The course will feature both theoretical contents and hands-on lessons, starting from design and planning, which is a must if you wish to produce a beautiful object, ergonomically perfect and specifically tailored to the wearer’s requirements.

Ten years teaching experience in Industrial and Fashion Design, followed by another ten years in “Ozona Occhiali” frame production will be made available to course students, who will learn the techniques empowering them to create the most fascinating products. Our project for the next season is a summer camp (in English) for students from all over the world.