Look Occhiali is launching a new corporate image around the name of Augusto Valentini, an Italian designer whom the firm has taken on its payroll, turning the name into a form of trademark identified with the notion of technical and material innovation. The Italian company will launch its first collections of magnesium-based frames for men's and women's prescription eyewear at MIDO next week under the AVD LAB brand, which is an acronym of the designer's name. They should retail at over €300 a pair.

Two years of research and experimentation have resulted in the development of a new ultra-light metal for frames, an alloy that combines a small amount of magnesium with aluminum and other materials. The result is a highly resistant alloy whose weight is said to be one-third that of titanium. Magnesium also has the attraction of being a widely available natural mineral.

The company admits that magnesium alloy has been used before, but mainly in the aeronautical and military fields. It says it was available only in sheet form, making it difficult to obtain sophisticated shapes. Valentini has developed a technology whereby the molten alloy is injected into a mold.

The company also produces and distributes Look Occhiali, Lookkino and Look@Me eyewear and sunglasses and produces the Jan des Bouvrie and Jos eyewear collections for some North European markets. In 2007 Look Occhiali generated a turnover of €15 million, up by 2-3 percent year on year. Similar figures are expected in 2008. Its main export markets are Europe, the Middle East and Japan.