Monday, 16 December 2013

Back to School

artwork by Eyespectacle

On Tuesday last week I had the honour to talk about my job (as an eyewear designer) at a friend's Primary School morning assembly. You can imagine how nervous I felt about talking in front of 150 children (!!!) aged 5-11 years, particularly since I only ever talk about my work with adults...This has been an exercise in defining the fundamentals of what I do, so it could be easily explained to my very unconventional audience. At the same time though I wanted to emphasise the things that make my job inspiring.

So, this is the essence of what I do:

I design shapes and details for glasses and sunglasses, I make sure they are well proportioned as well as interesting, I then choose the materials the glasses are going to be made in.

What inspires me to design glasses is that they enable people to define their well as to see the world clearly!

The thing I most enjoyed was Q&A time at the end, here are my favourite questions the kids had for me:

Can you make a whole pair of glasses out of glass?
I said no because they would be very fragile, but maybe I should have suggested that there are beautiful acetates that can mimic the effect...

Why do you wear glasses? (I was wearing one of my favourites)
They help me to recognise people in the street and to see where I am going!

(The children also asked if I could talk Italian and how old I am :-)

I hope I have inspired them and that some of them will choose to design eyewear one day; it's a great job!

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Monday, 2 December 2013


Experimental Japanese brand Anrealage has always used eyewear (or better still, face-wear) as an integral part of their collections like few have ever done (I find that eyewear is generally an add-on for most brands, it's there to reinforce a mood or a look). In their collaboration with Adlens they cleverly designed a range of clothing and accessories based on focus/out-of-focus digital prints to match the adjustable-focus technology of Adlens's Hemisphere glasses. 

Adlens nifty yet simple technology was created to serve Vision for a Nation's very noble philanthropic initiative and is now available to anyone under the popular buy-a-pair-give-a-pair model. The frames are designed to offer instant prescription by rotating the side dials until the desired power is set. The side dials are then removed once the wearer can see clearly.

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Touch Wood

Fashion has now fully embraced wood; it's sculpted into state-of-the-art heels on shoes, jewellery, evening bags and eyewear and never have I seen as many wooden frames as this year at Silmo in Paris, the fair was awash with them!

One brand stood out though, mainly because of it's genuine connection with the woodland. W-eye's wood artist founder Doriano just seemed very familiar; where I come from in the Alps, in the North East of Italy (so not far from where Doriano grew-up) there is a deep connection with the woodland (so powerful that you believe in the spirits of the woodland!), also my dad is a (rather eccentric) wood artist as well.

Doriano already had a lifelong experience crafting wood, in fact his family had started making chairs in the '60s and his curiosity and experimentation lead him to apply the same techniques (bent single sheet of plywood without joints) to make... glasses!

Though the material is worked in a traditional way there is a lot of technology behind it. Between the seven bonded sheets of wood there are two of aluminium which enable the wearer to mould the frames to their face shape and still retain its featherlight (10grams, I have been told) and elastic features.

But for this combination of wood and technology to be successful Doriano needed a designer's talents to capture the product's essence and to turn it into an aesthetic form. This led to the collaboration between Doriano and designer Matteo Ragni; true to nature even in the choice of names, the Bee-eater was born.

The wood used to make the W-eye glasses is certified, this ensures the wood is sourced through sustainably managed forests according to strict environmental, social and economic standards and other controlled sources, as explained in this video by Alpi, the people who supply W-eye.

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Monday, 25 November 2013

Ants off the grid

artwork by Eyespectacle

Do you remember Victor&Rolf's muddling upside down shop in Milan? Well, I have tried on some of my sunglasses upside down and the effect is quite attractive! As such Grey Ant has been a revelation, I get the impression that they adopt a similar, unconventional, approach to designing some of their styles...with surreal effects.

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Monday, 18 November 2013

Sculptural beauty

Anna-Karin's new collection has the energy and flamboyance of Animalier sculptures balanced by delicate floral sculptures resembling gilded fine porcelain.

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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Monday, 11 November 2013

Damir Doma's Colour Clouds

This is a super-late entry on Mykita's Damir Doma collaboration I saw at Silmo. As it often happens the more I read about the brand and the inspiration behind it the more I found it inspiring. Sterling Ruby's spellbinding "Dihedral" influenced the "floating colour clouds" and consequently the wide frames to better show-off the effect; a clear departure from Damir Doma's minute proportions of past seasons.

Still from Sterling Ruby's "Dihedral" video installation

Still from Sterling Ruby's "Dihedral" video installation

The collection also tries to find a link between fashion and art and this reminded me of a video who's memory lay dormant in my mind. You may remember "Elsa" and Miuccia's Impossible Conversations, the one where they argue whether fashion should be called art, do you remember?

In the past 8 years Mykita's has established a clever connection with art, this adds soul to their highly micro engineered collections, in the same way that their use of saturated colours offsets the cold nature of the steel frames.

"Ca lume" by Mark Borthwick for Mykita 8

"Handy up" by Sarah Illenberger for Mykita 8

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Monday, 4 November 2013

Looking for a different experience

glasses by Cutler&Gross, artwork by Eyespectacle

I was talking to a friend about opticians a while ago and why they happen to be (in most cases but, admittedly, not all) just really boring places??

There are many shop that only sell one product category, like shoe shops, hat shops, perfume shops and they seem to be a lot more appealing than opticians. Would you agree? A perfume shop appeals not just to the olfactory senses, it's a showcase of fonts, colours and graphics. It has great visual qualities. Hat shops make you think you can be someone else, even if just for a day. The James Smith&Sons umbrella and walking sticks shop on New Oxford Street makes you think of old fashion travels...

Lucio, my old boss and mentor once told me that eyewear can be a disguise, enhance your personality or transform you into someone else completely...however going to most optician's shops makes for a visually boring experience; those ads with models and attitudes that have no resemblance with real people are super-cheesy and it doesn't help that they happen to sell rows of really boring, variations-on-the-same-theme glasses. I find that glasses (arguably the item that is worn for longer than any other fashion accessory) are 100% decontextualised in current environments where they are sold.

Do you know an optician that offers a great experience, that creates a real context for the eyewear it sells or that is a pioneer in glasses retail?
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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A Lesson in Wabi-Sabi Aesthetic

“Wabi – sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble – it is a beauty of things unconventional”

This is a very simple definition for a complex and ambiguous Japanese philosophy that my friend Rein introduced me to a long time ago. Similarly Ti Kwa's Rigards tarnished, scratched and irregular surfaces, appear to stem from the same observation of nature and it's material qualities.

This is by far one of the most poetic takes on eyewear I have seen in recent years, its approach a marked departure from mare shapes, Rigards talks about materials (horn) and textures like few others have dared!

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Monday, 21 October 2013


You may remember a while ago I told you about Berlin's Kuboraum. When I saw their new collection at Silmo I was pleasantly surprised to see that the very things I liked about this brand when I first discovered it, the sophisticated take on volumes and finishes, as well as the architectural shapes of their "masks", where the basis for new experimentations...

Now the emphasis is combining different materials and optical illusions...

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Monday, 14 October 2013

Just for me!

Here they very first pair of custom made frames! I picked the shape, the colour and Gilberto made them for me.

artwork by Eyespectacle

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Saturday, 12 October 2013

Message in a frame

I love hidden messages, sayings and phrases on the things I wear. Like my blog, they are another way of telling a story (inside a frame). These are by Res/Rei and I saw them at Silmo a few weeks ago.

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