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Interview: Sean Michael Beolchini

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016
President’s in conversation with Sean Michael Beolchini, creative director of  Super Sunglasses.
Photos by Heather Sten.
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You’re a total renaissance man – you’ve done so much. Can you give us a brief background of you and your work? 
Oh! That’s the first time someone ever said that to me! But I honestly don’t think I deserve such a grand title….
I think it just came pretty organically by having the luxury of freedom and following what I liked to do. I studied graphic design in school, with a masters in art direction and creative direction in publishing, and to conclude a second masters in photography. Professionally, with Simon and Daniel Beckerman, we went on to create PIG MAG (2001 circa), where I spent 10 years as photo editor and assisted Simon with creative direction. This is where I built my strongest contacts and experiences. The same team started SUPER in 2007, and with Daniel at the head of the brand I had to pull out my design background…and here we are after 10 years!
I owe a lot to the Beckerman brothers, Daniel and Simon, and for being in the right place at the right time – I really learned everything from and with them, they are like brothers to me.
Tell us a little about the store and this space. How long has it been here on Howard St.?
The 21 Howard street address is RETROSUPERFUTURE®’s first flagship store, worldwide. The beautiful downtown space defines our identity and sense of community. As you enter you can experience our shop – it’s the place you can find the most complete selection of SUPER ever-made. In the back we have our office – that’s where myself and the US team work everyday. And last but not least, we have our productive basement where 8Ball Zines has a residence and where they run all of their projects from radio to gallery to zine workshop. The entire space is always very alive. It’s a lot of friends, a lot of talking, good music and a lot of life! We are there day and night….

36For us it’s a dream come true! We wanted to have a space of our own, where we can do what we want, any way we want. We needed to express the brand’s identity and I feel that we designed and created one of the most exceptional optical stores in the world. The architect Andrea Caputo and his studio contributed a lot to this construction, and I am very happy we did this together.
The choice to open the first store in NYC came naturally. We needed to make an international statement.

You’re Italian and American, right? How do you think your multiculturalism has shaped your style and taste?
Yes, born in America from two very Italian parents. I am a very lucky person.
Multiculturalism has definitely helped me shape my ability of understanding various markets, which in my opinion is one of the hardest parts of this profession. Once again, thanks to my 10 year experience with press allowed me to travel non-stop, and be a guest at festivals, events and meetings. Media is really freedom and power. I would really love to get back into it. Let’s see how it goes.
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What are the biggest differences between Milan and New York? Is the food really that much better in Italy?
The multiculturalism and variety NYC offers is the biggest difference for me.
Funny you mention food, because this multiculturalism is represented also in the food, and maybe that can be the best way to metaphorically represent it: NYC offers every single food and cuisine of our world. Whatever it is, you can find it in NYC, and probably at the highest level.
Milan on the other hand, does offer a better quality of the actual material food/produce than NYC: the vegetables, fruit, the mozzarella, cheese, bread, olive oil, wine… but if you want to eat well, you need to stick to the Italian cuisine. There isn’t much cultural diversity in Milan.
Can you tell us a little about the philosophy of Super sunglasses? You guys share the Made in Italy ethos with President’s, but why else do you think the brands work well together? 
From its birth, it has been SUPER’s goal to make quality eyewear with fresh and wearable designs at honest prices. Historically, Italy was and still is the leading manufacturer of eyewear, and in these hard times in Europe, we thought it would be perfect to keep the operation in-house. I feel that  President’s works in a similar way with its independent freedom and what our beautiful country can offer.
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What are some of your go-to’s for inspiration?
Honestly, I don’t have a real strategy or formula… I like to ride my bike and think as I look around me. I’d like go to good book stores, like Strand or Dashwood or Printed Matter and stay there half day, or go to galleries like DIA Beacon in upstate New York. Then I go to our store and start sharing ideas and end up riding the streets (again) for hours looking and reacting to what I see. I really think weed and riding around plays a big role. I don’t like to be inspired by the internet. It’s too much information, too much all at once and I get lost and confused. I need to keep it simple and free in my head.