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Interview with Tommaso Rumici

Veni, vidi, Rumici - I came, saw and designed. Feeling the idea, letting the pen flow, living the vision. Each of his designs bears a unique signature, characterized by versatility, meticulousness and graceful perfection. Tommaso Rumici (* 1983, Italy) is one of the most sought-after knife designers in the world and has already been commissioned by the best-known knife brands. His latest work: the powerful Boker 1969 Mach-1 Damascus. Although function and ergonomics come first, his works of art exude an irresistible attraction. In the following, Tommaso Rumici reveals what a Clint Eastwood film has to do with it and what dream he still wants to fulfill.

How did you come into contact with knives?

Even as a child, I always had a knife with me - whether I was hiking, out in nature or carving. I can still remember my first knife very clearly. It was a classic Swiss Army knife from Wenger with a wooden handle and slipjoint. There was a small cutlery store in my town called Coltelleria Scintilla. I went there regularly and started collecting knives. Over the years, I developed a deep friendship with the store owners. As a teenager, I eagerly browsed the online forum of the largest Italian cutlery retailer Coltelleria Collini and went to more trade fairs. It wasn't long before I put my first own design attempts on paper, which were certainly influenced by the golden era of the industry towards the end of the 1990s.

When did you design your first knife?

In 2005, I designed a tactical knife with the aim of making it by hand. I put this proposal to my friends Rudy and Davide from Coltelleria Collini, who advised me to approach companies in the Italian knife capital of Maniago. I was awarded the contract by Viper and the result was the Viper Fearless. My first commercial design on the market and Viper's first tactical military knife, which was immediately exhibited at Italy's most important arms fair. The success of this model was so overwhelming that Viper hired me for further projects and even other brands expressed interest in my designs.

Is there anyone you would describe as your mentor?

Not really. I owe my success to several people who helped me with advice and support. I was also lucky enough to meet some of the most gifted knifemakers who opened up completely new perspectives on knife making. In particular, I would like to mention Moreno Franzin, a genius in the flesh, who was also responsible for the design of the Mercury Logan and who designed the Viper Free together with me. I have also learned a lot from the companies I have worked with over the last 20 years.

Where do you see your greatest talent as a knife designer?

True to the motto of the legendary movie character Gunny Highway: "Improvise, adapt, overcome!" I am able to improvise, adapt and overcome possible resistance. I achieve this by creating designs that are fundamentally different from each other and are tailored to the requirements and production possibilities of the respective manufacturer. Combined with a clear style and an unmistakable design language, the result is a knife full of character. Every contour in my designs is meticulously planned and has its raison d'être. Another of my strengths is my keen sense of ergonomics. When I'm asked why someone should buy one of my knives, my answer is always the same: "Just pick it up!"

Where do the ideas for your designs come from?

In principle, ergonomics and practicality are the top priorities in my designs. Only then comes the aesthetic finishing touches. Each project requires a different approach and new ideas. With knife "A", I work out the concept based on the manufacturer's wishes, while with knife "B" I take a close look at the manufacturer's portfolio to identify any gaps in the range or I even approach the manufacturer with my own, independent designs. In the latter case, I am not dependent on their specifications, but can give free rein to my creativity. I generally draw my designs by hand and take inspiration from shapes from nature, technology or art.

What do you like most about your work?

I think it's the variety. Every project is different and I always have to reinvent myself. I am always on the lookout for new technologies and can rely on a lively exchange with experts from the industry. I am constantly discovering new materials, state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, blade types and applications. The constant race for innovation makes projects feasible today that were unthinkable just a few years ago. Furthermore, new challenges are my driving force to always go that little bit further. Because nowadays there are many good designers and an increasingly demanding clientele. Designing a successful knife is anything but easy, but it's worth all the effort!

What does a typical working day look like for you?

No two days are the same for me and fortunately I don't fall into a typical work routine with the same tasks all the time. On the contrary: on some days I sit at the drawing board, on others I work on orders from various manufacturers, on yet other days I carry out field tests or take part in training courses for experts with whom I work on the design of new knives. All this keeps my mind fresh and gives me new ideas for my designs. I have also been working as a tester and columnist for several gun and knife magazines since 2009. Last but not least, I have recently been involved in several training programs for professional rescuers, military and police officers on the effective use of knives, legal aspects and how to deal with armed attackers.

What projects are you currently working on?

I'm currently working on new pocket knives and fixed-blade knives. I've already found a manufacturer for some concepts, but I'm still looking for others. But that's a normal process. At the end of 2023, I bought a new CAD program (computer-aided design) and am getting to grips with the material more and more. I hope that my website will finally be updated in 2024. Because only a few of the 40 product lines that I have designed throughout my career are shown there. At the moment, my entire portfolio can only be seen on my Instagram profile.

Do you sometimes get fed up with knives?

Definitely not! My work around knives is so fulfilling and varied that I never get bored. As an experienced user, a knife is not just a design object for me, but the result of extensive research. However, there are still so many things that I would like to explore in more detail or experiments that I would like to carry out. Some of my innovative concepts have not yet found a buyer or are still in the drawer as drawings. I would still like to fulfill a long-cherished dream at some point: Not only to design knives, but also to manufacture them. I already have a workshop, but so far only wooden models, metal parts or rough prototypes have come off the production line.

What's the best way to switch off in your free time?

Even though my free time is limited, I consciously create space for family, hobbies and sport. I firmly believe that creative work needs such a counterbalance in order to maintain a high quality of life. At the moment, I keep fit by running, climbing and doing gymnastics. Whenever time allows, I go hiking or traveling with my girlfriend Annabella. Navarre, our German shepherd, is of course a must. I like to read a lot, but sometimes I can't decide between literature and technical manuals.

Thank you very much for the interesting insights you have given us into your work.

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