Monday, 25 April 2016

Modern Day Eyewear Craftsmen

photo Andrea Verzola

One of the things I love most about being an eyewear designer, is that I spend a lot of time at the factories, where I get to meet some very inspiring people. One of these is Raffaele Ricciuti, owner of 1955, a producer of bespoke eyewear in the South of Italy. Here his team of craftsmen create products for niche brands as well as for Occhialeria Artigiana, their own collection, which will be exhibited at this year’s XXI International Exhibition of the Triennale of Milan.

Many things set 1955 apart from other manufacturers. They are decentralised from the eyewear centres of production in the North of Italy, yet unlike some in the country,  they are certified 100% Made in Italy. The other unique feature of of 1955 is Raffaele himself, a luminary who decided to invests in technology to support his team's handcraft skills.

photo Andrea Verzola

Here is an extract from my interview with Raffaele.


As a small Italian eyewear manufacturer we use only the best raw materials and components, fortunately these are all Italian; this grants us a 100% Made in Italy certification, which we are very proud of.

We work with a small portfolio of clients who appreciate the values of Made in Italy craftsmanship and who are looking to develop and produce unique, top quality eyewear. Our production line is not set up to churn-out vast quantities as our machines are manually operated, aside from one, which we use for precision manufactory. Our technical department also relies on a 3D printer and we are set-up to follow our clients from initial concept to finished product.


With 3D printing within a few hours we are able to create an initial prototype, which enables us to fine-tune the initial shape over several iterations, before proceeding to the final, handmade prototype. This way we can reduce sampling lead-times by approximately 30%.


The eyewear industry is frozen in time and most manufacturers are looking at innovation to distinguish themselves from others. We are also investing in the development of unique materials and we have filed a patent application for a new machine.

You can read the complete text of my interview with Raffaele on Utelier.

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Friday, 25 March 2016

Geometry Tricks

Artwork by Eyespectacle - Sunglasses: Pawaka, Markus Lupfer, JPLUS, Ralph Vaessen

Sometimes fashion charms us through beautiful complexity. Our relationship with seasonal trends may be a love or hate affair, as these are often polarized into completely opposite aesthetics. This season is as much about assertive, pure geometric shapes at one end of the spectrum as it is about rétro preppy glasses in classic tortoiseshells, at the other end.

I picked a side and followed my penchant for a more assertive look, defined by architectural geometry. Each creation is designed to be a sculptural form, addressing the similarities between fashion and architecture. Pawaka follows strict rules of symmetry, other designers, like JPLUS and Ralph Vaessen celebrate the asymmetry of the human body with off-kilter shapes. These are exercises in simplification and precision, working to get more across with fewer elements. Think Patrick Nigel’s stylized graphics meet Wassily Kandinsky’s abstract compositions.

As well as sharp geometric configurations there is an element of Surrealism and the trickery of trompe-l’oeil effects like Markus Lupfer did, challenging our eyes as well as our minds. The irony of playing with optical illusions, on a device that is meant to improve our eyesight.

A version of this article was published in the January 2016's - Avant Garde edition of Eyebook magazine, where I am a contributor on eyewear trends.
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Monday, 1 February 2016

Lunar Eclipses And Eyes As Gems

photograph by Sylwana Zybura  

As the 2016 edition of 100% Optical approaches, I look back at one of my favourite project's, from the last edition of the fair's Royal College of Art eyewear design competition, where MA students where invited to submit their designs.

Honggang Lu's original concept for ‘Lunar Eclipse’ was a collection of adornments for the eyes in the form of a ring with a magnifying lens; this has now been developed into a collection of small sculptural objects that the wearer can interact with.

Honggang's poetic inspiration lies in the observation of different ways people position their hands near their face; the way we pull our hair behind our ears or the way we rest our face on our hand. "The method of wearing these eyewear pieces varies the interaction between the jewellery and the
wearer; as well as offering different ways of placing hands around their face and body", said Honggang.

From his first designs for the ring, he went on to create some more jewellery, like broaches and pendants to, once again connects the hand to the jewellery, to the eyewear and then the face.

photograph by Sylwana Zybura  

photograph by Sylwana Zybura  

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Monday, 28 September 2015

Percy Lau's Kepler

If you are in Paris this week be sure to check out Percy Lau's new collection called Kepler, at Showroom Romeo. More details here.

Percy has also launched a fashion film as a collaboration with award-winning actress and director - Tian Yuan. The film called Genesis, centres around a glass Mahjong gambling game and the actors feature some of Percy's past creations.

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Friday, 25 September 2015

Larke x Le Kilt

This year's Lonodn Fashion Week saw the unveiling of a new collaboration between Larke optics and Le Kilt.

'Stupid Girl', the collection's title, takes it's name from 1996 Garbage track of the same name and was accessorised with Larke's 1960s- inspired frames.

Against the backdrop of legendary live music venue, the 100 Club; playful fabric combinations allude to the youthful spirit of the collection, while the sunglasses embody the characteristic attitude of counterculture and nonconformity.
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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

All Eyes on Yaz!

Yaz has done it again. After the lip sunglasses, the hyper-creative force behind French brand Yaz Bukey lent her fertile imagination to a new collab with Linda Farrow Gallery. Mixing luxury with frivolous pop references; the result is...eye sunglasses, bien sûr!

I am sure Generation I will be much obliged ;-)

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Monday, 24 August 2015

Solid Denim

Just as every other brand is priding oneself on the Italian acetate used for their sunglasses, 
the design team at Mosevic decided to invent a new material for theirs.

Over the past four years of development, they have bought countless pairs of second hand jeans from charity shops and are looking to work with environmentally conscious suppliers, who are at the forefront of sustainable denim production and dying.

Each pair of sunglasses is made of layers of jeans fabric bonded with a special resin. Here is how they took the rich heritage of denim to the next stage!

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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Wrapping and Tinkering

As a child Helio Ascari had a knack for tinkering with anything that could be disassembled. When he first got ahold of a bicycle, he immediately started taking it apart and figuring out how to restore and remodel it. As a tinkerer you instinctively develop a taste for exquisite design, Helio developed one for masters like Faberge, Carlo and Rembrandt Bugatti, vintage guns, swords and cars. His taste for finery inspired him to create Ascari Bicycles.

In addition to building bicycles, Helio started an experimental project with renowned vintage curator, Bob Melet from Melet Mercantile. They customised a small selection of vintage sunglasses using the “leather wrap technique” he uses on his bicycles and that his granddad had inspired,  “one day it came to my mind my grandpa, he used to make wicker baskets to sell at vineyards near our home and he would wrap leather around the handles. He was a simple man, but he always paid a lot of attention to detail, he would make everything as if he was making the most precious item, he was an artist that way and I was a willing and enthusiastic spectator.” It didn’t take long for the guys at Old Joe Brand, a Japanese brand that already had been selling Ascari Bicycles to see the sunglasses and propose a collaboration, which turned out to be a wonderful experience.

“ Looking back to move forward” – Helio believes that the essence of his creations can be found in this simple sentence. “We live a fast era, everything happens too fast, we should stop and look back to the past and bring the beauty of those glory years back to today’s date. That’s what I do, I am inspired by the sophistication and elegance of the 1930’s combining innovation, style and art to my designs.”

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