Saturday, 24 August 2013

Manufacturing Objects Seen in Dreams

I normally measure an experience based on how long I engage in it without realising how quickly time passes by. I spent three hours at General Eyewear's shop/design studio/workshop the other day without even noticing.

You may remember one of their vintage sunglasses from a previous post. All I knew about them came from friends and colleagues' praises "it's the best place in London for vintage eyewear!", "AMAZING!!", "you'll love it!" (but how?? if I could never find the store??). So, map in hand, up I went to Camden Stables Market. Halfway down the gran bazaar market's dense alleyways, inebriated by cheap incense fumes I realised that finding General Eyewear was going to be like the prize at the end of a treasure hunt...I persevered and the hectic experience (you know what I mean if you have been to Camden Market) paid off in the end!

There are so many great things about General Eyewear I don't know where to I'll make a list!

#1 - Their endless selection of vintage frames, this is what they are famous for., so make sure you go there with enough time to look and try on!

And here are my favourite...

#2 - Talking about glasses, like eyewear geeks with Fraser (the owner) and his team; Fabio (a fountain of vintage eyewear-knowledge) and Theresa (one of the very few people I have ever met with a talent for designing as well as making eyewear, I think her job is the best!).

This is not your usual vintage shop or optician, these guys are super-knowledgeable and super-passionate about eyewear; they can talk for hours about the history behind some of their vintage frames or some of their most peculiar customer requests (General Eyewear is an atelier where you can turn up and have a custom-made pair of frames, to your wildest designs!), like these rectangular frames inspired by the Devil's sunglasses in Bedazzled.

I admit I almost changed my mind on rectangular frames when I saw these...

The metal and plastic one at the bottom are Fabio's favourite frames. He explained how they where actually provided by the French National Health Service in the 60s and compared them to the more basic plastic ones (at the top) which where provided by the British NHS. I agree with him, the French did put a bit more effort into engineering plastic and metal combinations, in the past!

#3 - Their limited range of I+OS (Inner+Outer Space) frames. Fraser and his team are not just passionate about vintage frames they also create their own collections of highly prestigious glasses. Beautifully crafted, one-off pieces, made in the UK and, I am convinced, strongly influenced by all those years admiring and collecting vintage acetates of which there is an extensive collection in the workshop, at the back of the store.

Every piece is beautifully carved and "it's the material's colour and patterns that inspired the design of each frame", Fraser tells me (often it's the other way around; the design comes first and then the colours are chosen).

#4 - Behind the scenes workshop and acetate archive. This is Theresa's realm and where every bespoke creation, for private customers or film commissions, sees the light.

Hundreds of frame templates and pre-Illustartator hand drawings of eyewear and other plastic products like mirrors, combs and hair-clips, salvaged from French factories. Apparently they where all handmade in the same workshops, hence the motifs being very similar.

General Eyewear is is also fashion stylists destination for outlandish eyewear, Fraser keeps a copy of each magazine featuring their glasses.

My trip through Camden Market, dodging stalls of Goth leather jackets, cheap neon sunglasses and psychedelic prints paid off in the end!

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Monday, 19 August 2013

Reduced and Purified Wins the Race

artwork by Eyespectacle

I blame my love for geometric shapes on those Architecture foundation classes I took at art college. I couldn't hand-draw a straight line (I didn't know what Illustrator was back then!) so it still fascinates me when I see one, I even follow blogs and websites on artful geometric patterns and graphics (yes....I do!). But I am not the only one with a soft spot for geometric shapes, all you have to do is take a walk down the high street and you will notice that regular lines and shapes are so hot right now!

The best in geometric eyewear comes from Slow and Steady Wins the Race, who is on a mission to create unique and universal items that will withstand the test of time (and the market's tireless demands for new collections every other month) by reducing and purifying each sunglass to its elementary characteristics.

photo from Slow and Steady Wins the Race

artwork rom Slow and Steady Wins the Race

photo from Patternity

photo from Slow and Steady Wins the Race

artwork from Slow and Steady Wins the Race

photo from

photo from Slow and Steady Wins the Race

artwork from Slow and Steady Wins the Race

artwork from Geometry Daily

photo from Slow and Steady Wins the Race

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Saturday, 17 August 2013

An Inspiring Journey

The thing I love most about writing my blog is that it gives me the opportunity not only to feature and talk about some truly inspiring eyewear but it also gives me a chance to talk about the design process behind it. So, yesterday I met up with Vanina (you may remember her work from a previous post) to talk about the inspiration behind her recent graduate collection titled "Where Do We Migrate To?".

Vanina, who is from Bulgaria, has lived in many different places, from Rome to Ticino, in Switzerland, then New York and now London, and it's the journey and what she took from each place, she tells me, that has most influenced her work. Vanina looked at birds as migrating creatures (here is where the wings running theme comes from!) for her outlandish creations; unlike for birds though who migrate to meet basic needs of survival a lot of people, like herself, migrate for social reasons, to gain experience and find cultural enrichment.

I think "influence" is the key word that summarises this collection. Each piece references the other; the accessories include the same elements and colours found in the knitwear and vice versa. This is not a very common approach, some designers use accessories to complement their garments in different ways; sometimes sunglasses, shoes and handbags include the same elements found in the clothes and some other time the link is a lot more subtle.

Vanina seamlessly weaves each element from knitwear to eyewear and jewellery with fine dexterity and in each piece you can read the inspiration behind it.

The eyewear includes yarns...

...and the knitwear and jewellery include details and fastenings made with the same perspex used for the eyewear.

photo by Eyespectacle

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