Designer Q&A: Blackfin and the allure of Italian titanium

At SILMO Paris we had the opportunity to sit down with two key members of the Blackfin team, designer Roberto Russo and senior marketing manager Simone Favero. They told us about the identity, history, and vision that make Blackfin a leader in 100% titanium frames.


Simone (left) and Roberto (right) had fun striking the classic Italian designer pose!

How did Blackfin start?

Simone: We often say that Blackfin is a 48-year-old startup. Maria Pramaor, mother of current president Nicola Del Din, was one of the first employees of Italian giant Luxottica in Agordo. In 1971, she saw a market opportunity and decided to cross the village river to open a titanium factory, which she christened with her family name: Pramaor. Luxottica was her first customer and was soon followed by other big players in the optical industry, including Safilo, Marcolin, and De Rigo.

When European titanium production slowed down as a result of increased Chinese production, the company moved into frame manufacturing. The first Blackfin frames were released in 2008, but at that time Pramaor was still manufacturing frames for other companies. By 2011–2012, the company was focused solely on Blackfin.

What’s your design philosophy?

Roberto: It’s not complicated for me—every product is different. Over the past 18 years, I’ve designed all sorts of things, from small-scale items like jewellery to big things like submarines. I’m able to transfer what I learn in one area and apply it in another. 

I started at Blackfin in 2017. I head up a seven-member team that’s responsible for the brand’s designs. The slogan “neomadeinitaly” is our way of showing respect for the people and place that created the brand, while staying open to foreign expertise. Our dedication to our products is inspired by Japan, our company structure is inspired by the Nordic countries, and our passion comes from Italy.

What inspires you in designing frames?

Roberto: Titanium is sometimes seen as a cold, lifeless material. We want to bring warmth and colour to our designs and create ergonomic, avant-garde frames. Our frames are very colourful and striking, despite the fact that painting titanium is no mean feat!

Speaking of which, could you tell us more about the process of creating titanium frames?

Roberto: Our frames are produced in 53 steps using 100% Japanese titanium. Everything is done at our new plant, in the exact same place where Maria Pramaor started out. The procedures have been industrialized, but the manufacturing process itself is still artisanal. There is a real art to making titanium frames!

We have 100 employees, most of whom are women. Painting is the most demanding process, because it’s difficult to get paint to adhere to titanium. The paint team is 100% female! We’re always learning and improving our processes.

Our team was impressed by the design quality and variety of models and colours in the collection. Blackfin is a top choice for high-quality, lightweight, comfortable frames. Check out Roberto and Simone’s work at an Opto-Réseau clinic.