The Road to Blackfin: Corrado Rosson and Pramaor are Making History

Corrado-RossonBy Paddy Kamen

Corrado Rosson is a bright spark of a designer; a self-taught self-starter in a company renowned for innovation.

Born in the town of Agordo, in the dramatic and rugged Dolomite mountain area of northern Italy, Corrado Rosson simply followed his natural inclinations to a career in design. Before he even knew that eyewear manufacture was his region’s leading industry, Rosson’s path was in a sense laid out for him: “I was always incredibly attracted to sketching, drawing and any opportunity to represent something graphically,” he says. As he matured, Rosson was increasingly drawn to the combination of art and technical accuracy that is intrinsic to design.

Rosson eschewed formal post-secondary education, instead teaching himself 3D graphics. This passion led to a chance meeting with a professional designer who created bath furniture, leading him to a job in that field. From there, he easily moved into eyewear design, as a member of Luxottica’s design department (Luxottica has a major factory in Agordo), beginning in 2006.

POD_1The road to Blackfin emerged when Rosson joined forces with Pramaor Srl in 2011. Pramaor is an Agordo-based family firm, founded in 1971 and now headed by Nicola Del Din, the secondgeneration CEO. The company originally produced frames for larger eyewear companies in the region. In 1991, they began working intensively with titanium, eager to develop its potential for quality and performance. By 2008, their vision for titanium fully realized, Del Din and his team decided to concentrate their efforts on the brand that would be all their own: Blackfin. This bold move has been richly rewarded and Blackfin is on a roll, with stellar sales figures and international acclaim. The combination of a strong history and forward thinking makes for a dynamic company, true to its roots, yet always evolving.

BlackFin_GravityRosson, vice president of product and design, heads a team of four, all of whom are responsible for innovation. “We have patented many innovative solutions over the years – some aesthetic, some technical,” says Rosson. “For example: the ATOM ZERO screwless hinge can be opened and closed more than 50,000 times without becoming slack. Our SWORDFISH temple tips with break-off guides make it possible to shorten the temples by five or 10 mm in three simple moves without using any instruments. The SHARKLOCK glazing system makes it possible to fit the lenses into the 0.5-mm beta titanium inner rims without the need for screws. This is the result of the special “sharks-fin” grooving in the rim, lined with a thin sheet of metal, enabling the lenses to be locked into the frame simply with the aid of a screwdriver.”

André Bélanger’s company, Mood Eyewear, distributes Blackfin in Canada. He points out that Pramaor’s deep legacy with titanium has made all the difference. “Titanium is typically stiff and hard to adjust. In contrast, Blackfin temples are easily adjusted, making them the dispenser’s friend. The quality and comfort are outstanding.”

BlackFin_FramesBélanger notes that Blackfin meets the need for metal frames in a market over-saturated with acetate. “The frames have a lot of character, making them present on the face yet very comfortable and light. And the colours are amazing, in just the right shades and combinations.”

The firm recently established a new colouring department to build on their distinct advantage in this area, and custom-ordered colour combinations will soon be available on special order, with the customer’s name engraved on the frame as well as on the packaging.

BlackFinUnder Rosson’s leadership, the design team’s work is resonating strongly in the marketplace. Sales volume is up 62 per cent from 2013 to 2014, and they have seen a 56 per cent increase in exports. Even in the sluggish Italian market, the firm saw 29 per cent growth last year. Blackfin frames are 100 per cent Made in Italy and the company has coined the term ‘neomadeinitaly’ to describe their profound commitment to this policy. CEO Del Din notes, “Our company has grown a lot in the last few years, which gives great satisfaction to all those who help us inside and outside the company and who strongly believe in what we do. To get this result, we considered every aspect of the business: product, marketing, events, finance. Every move we made has been a good move to this point and we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished, even if we still feel ourselves at the beginning of our journey.”

The passion and excitement of design has not abated for Rosson. “I live each day as if it is the first. I love my job and the fact that my personal inclinations and work life are so in sync. I hope that my three children find careers as rewarding for them as eyewear design is for me.”