A Conversation with Davide Mazzucchelli

A Conversation with Davide Mazzucchelli

Mazzucchelli 1849 is a global leader in the manufacturing and distribution of sheets made of cellulose acetate. Handcrafted with a smooth, beautiful and durable finish, acetate is traditionally used in the production of luxury optical and sunglass frames as well as our MW07 PLUS True Wireless Earphones. A six generation family business founded in Italy in 1849, Mazzucchelli is a pioneer in the innovation and production of semi-finished plastic materials with highly technical and aesthetic qualities. 

To celebrate the launch of our collection of headphones and earphones with Los Angeles-based eyewear brand Oliver Peoples, whose sun and eyeglass frames are made of Mazzucchelli acetate, we spoke with Davide Mazzucchelli about the process of producing acetate, how the material has evolved over the past 171 years, and the brand’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and the environment.

Master & Dynamic for Oliver Peoples features Mazzucchelli 1849 acetate

Mazzucchelli has been a family business since its inception. Can you tell us about any significant milestones or achievements the business has achieved or is currently working towards?
Mazzucchelli 1849 was born 171 years ago, remaining a family business but never closing itself off from cooperating with others. It originated with Santino Mazzucchelli, who founded an artisan factory which produced buttons, combs and hair ornaments using horn and bone material. The development of Mazzucchelli 1849 really took place under the joint management of old and new generations. The original artisan workshop became a more organized factory thanks to the entry into the business of Santino’s son, Pompeo. Over the years, Pompeo began to replace the raw materials traditionally used for production (horn and bone) with an innovative plastic material, celluloid.

The family’s commitment to the well-being of employees has remained consistent over the years and has led to the creation of a neighborhood of 100 houses for collaborators as well as a technical school and a clinic for employees and their families. 

With the aim of better supporting customers in terms of service, production branches were opened in Asia around 25 years ago. This led to the company becoming a strategic partner for eyewear brands by acquiring companies that could create synergies such as a lens manufacturer and a metal component company. Today, yet another evolution led to the sale of the metal components business in pursuit of extraordinary aesthetic effects with usage of different polymers in order to serve diverse markets. Around the 2010s, the sixth generation joined the company. Supporting the development of new products, Mazzuccheli focused on sustainability by launching both a new cellulose acetate formulation mainly composed of bio-based material, and by studying innovative plant solutions.

Mazzucchelli is the world’s leading manufacturer of Italian acetate

Mazzucchelli has produced acetate since 1849. What are some of the key components required to ensure quality, but also innovation over the past 150 years? 
Our company is aimed at the continuous generation of quality products and constant innovation. The company is very well structured both from the production side and in the research branch, in a broader sense. The research is carried by a product development office and technological laboratories that reproduce all the production processes in small scale. By doing so, they are able to manufacture samples that later will be industrialized. Research is also carried out by a real research laboratory which has a twofold purpose, on one hand it acts as a laboratory for the control of both raw materials and finished products, and on the other hand it works to the generation of new formulations, new products and new process solutions. To fully understand the importance of research, 10% of our workforce of the Italian plant is dedicated to this field. A great deal of attention is also devoted to training and study. Substantial resources are designated to the continuous training of both operators, and even more, of all the people involved in our research field. I must tell you a secret – the greatest part of our success depends on the expertise and commitment of the people who, with team spirit, work in Mazzucchelli.

Your company has worked with numerous innovative brands to produce a range of products to incorporate acetate, including Master & Dynamic. How do the unique properties of acetate lend themselves to a product like our MW07 PLUS True Wireless Earphones?
On one hand, our products have outstanding aesthetic qualities that allow us to achieve effects unattainable with other polymers or natural polymers, such as the depth of our patterns or color brightness. Furthermore, a main feature of our quality cellulose acetate is the feel and touch of the material, which is smooth and silky, meaning it is pleasant to make contact with the skin and to use. Mazzucchelli has followed the highest standards in order to declare its product biocompatible and therefore not harmful in terms of skin sensitization, according to the regulations of the medical sector. This gives us the opportunity to work closely with companies like yours.  It is our total dedication to the customer which, in addition to the beauty and quality of our products, allows us to provide product customization as well. In fact, on a daily basis, Mazzucchelli’s designers interact with high-end fashion brands’ stylists and other customers to develop a product specifically designed for the end user.

Has acetate, and what it’s used for, evolved since Mazzuccheli began producing it over 150 years ago? 
Mazzucchelli is constantly working to improve its cellulose acetate by carefully checking the raw materials’ quality and interfacing with the Research and Development departments of different producers. Cellulose acetate has been dedicated to a high-end niche market ranging from eyewear to quality fashion or hair accessories (brushes, headbands, etc.). In recent years we have noticed a renewed interest in cellulose acetate due to its excellent performance and its organic qualities. Personally, I believe that even compared to new generation biopolymers, cellulose acetate stands out for its physical mechanical performance.

We made cellulose acetate even more bio-based with the launch of our product M49 and, more recently, Mazzucchelli has obtained the ISCC PLUS certification. This allows us to actively participate in a project that allows the recovery of processing waste through a carbon renewal technology developed by Eastman, our supplier of raw material. Using this technology makes our product even more sustainable by massively reducing the amount of waste normally sent to landfills.

Describe in what ways acetate is eco-friendly?
Cellulose acetate sheets are mostly made of two components, cellulose acetate powder and plasticizer. The correct mixture of these two raw materials result in a sheet that has extraordinary performance and several possible uses. As its name tells us, cellulose acetate is of natural origin, since it comes from wood pulp or cotton. Mazzucchelli only buys cellulose acetate obtained according to FSC principles. This means that not every random piece of wood from any forest is used, but only wood specifically cultivated in accordance with sustainability principles, which includes a continuous reforestation and a conscious forest management.

The majority of the artificial raw materials have been replaced with bio-based ones that are renewable. Also, as mentioned in the previous answer to your question, the environmental impact of carbon renewal technology will be crucial, especially regarding CO2 emissions. We believe sustainability means thinking about future generations— and we like to say that for Mazzucchelli the future is today.

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