When President Giuseppe Bergamin founded Sunglass in 1984, he already had ten years’ experience with a window glass manufacturer. He noticed a gap in the market and wanted to create something innovative to fulfill the modern demands of architects.
“At that time, there was no curved glass in major architecture projects,” he explains. “The automotive industry used, it and some construction integrated it on a smaller scale, but that was it.”
Mr. Bergamin developed the technology to produce the glass that architects needed. Sunglass was a pioneering company in this field. In the 1990s, the company began offering the design and completion of projects worldwide.
“We developed innovative technologies, increased our production capacity and lowered costs,” the President says. “Today we offer every solution for large pieces of curved glass, including our own mounting systems for professional installation.”
Sunglass is sought after in all the larger European metropolises, like London, Paris and Berlin, where it has participated in projects for the celebrity architects Richard Rogers and Norman Foster; worked on the façade of the building for the newspaper Le Monde; and helped complete Les Galeries Lafayette, respectively.
Clients approach Sunglass either with a clearly defined project that requires custom-made glass or seeking cooperation to design and develop a product together.
One of its most recent projects was the Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création in Paris, designed with the world-famous architect Frank Gehry. “This was one of our highly innovative projects,” Mr. Bergamin reveals. “We developed special technology for its completion.”
Last year, the company completed the façade of the Arena Corinthians for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, as well as the glazing for the capsules of the High Roller Observatory Wheel in Las Vegas – the largest Ferris wheel in the world. Another Ferris wheel is planned for Dubai.
Sunglass has between 75 and 85 members of staff, depending on its projects, which take at least two years to complete. 95% of its work takes place abroad, directly or indirectly through cooperation with general contractors. It is in the final stage of the European Council Résidence Palace in Brussels with Phillippe Samyn & Partners.
Other projects near completion include Nevskaja Ratusha in St. Petersburg with the architect Sergei Tchoban and the Heydar Aliyev Medezi Cultural Center in Baku, Azerbaijan, with Zaha Hadid.
“We have already had several projects in Baku,” Mr. Bergamin notes. “Being so international has been a boon during times of economic crisis. For instance, in 2009, the USA and Europe were hit hard, but we still had projects in Brazil, the UAE and Russia.”
The company’s technical expertise was in demand for the first floor of the Eiffel Tower and the Tour Odéon Monte Carlo in Monaco, which at 170 m is the tallest structure in Monaco. While curved glass is Sunglass’s core business, the company has opted to diversify in recent years, exploring shipbuilding and high-speed trains.
“We have already developed new, innovative technologies for these fields and launched them,” Mr. Bergamin says. “Both fields are experiencing growth.”
The key product here is glass with lower weight and greater resilience. The company takes on all the testing and approval for the client, as well. In the train sector, Sunglass began working with Italian clients, but now it has multinational corporations abroad as its clients. In shipbuilding, it works with shipyards in Italy, Germany and the USA.
Current revenues amount to more than 15 million EUR, and Sunglass aims to increase that to 20 million EUR in the next two to three years. At the same time, it is planning investments to yield even larger dimensions for turnkey technical solutions. It also wants to broaden its expertise in structures for glazing.
“I am always optimistic about the future,” the President says. “Even in difficult times, we create the preconditions to be ready for the market when things improve.”