Monday, 30 September 2013

The new look at Silmo

It was a real delight to see one of my favourite brands, Marni chose to aligned itself to an independent company as opposed to signing a very lucrative contract with one of the main players in the world of eyewear monopoly!

This choice has paid off particularly with their glasses range which, I am sure, gave Marni the freedom to explore new and off-the-wall shapes with truly inspiring results!

artwork by Eyespectacle

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Thursday, 19 September 2013


If you live in Perugia you may have had the privilege of having your glasses made by a true (and certainly rare these days!) artisan. His name is Gilberto and has been proudly making bespoke glasses for the past 60 years. He tells me that some of his customers have had their glasses made since they where little; they are now in their 20s and still have their glasses made by him! What I like about "Gli Occhiali di Gilberto", as his workshop is called, is that this is a neighbourhood service; old ladies, children, students...anyone who needs a new pair of glasses just walks in and orders a pair, like in days gone bye when people had their clothes and shoes made to measure.

Each frame he makes is truly unique and sitting down with him to discuss the design and the colours is just a pleasure. Gilberto tells me that making glasses is a very fulfilling experience, how many people can say that about their job?...So, 5 minutes after I walk into his workshop I am sold. I am going to have my very own frames made! As an eyewear designer I am lucky enough to have a collection of frames; in the morning, before I walk out the house I choose which glasses to wear. However, I have never had a custom made pair before, so I have a feeling that these are going to be memorable!

Gilberto's art is a rare combination of creativity as well as craftsmanship, he designs and creates his own new shapes but he is also happy for his customers to suggest any shape they like. You can choose a style form a selection on display (as I did, how un-designer of me!) or give Gilberto a sketch and after evaluating size and fit he will make them for you, even the craziest!

Inside Gilberto's workshop

There is a selection of gorgeous Italian acetates, and only a tiny amount available for each colour.

Gilberto's pipes

Gli Occhiali di Gilberto - Via Rizzo Luigi, 83, 06128 Perugia

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Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Girl With The Specs

artwork by Eyespectacle

I believe that the best things in London are tucked away! This is ever so true about Laura Nicholson's studio hidden behind a little Georgian shop-turned-wedding atelier on a cobbled walk in Bloomsbury. 

Laura is the creative mind behind eyewear brand Larke, which launched last month. Larke means - 'to embark on an adventure', as Laura did when she couldn't find any glasses she liked and decided to design her own! 

I often find the anonymous experience of shopping at big optical retailers overwhelming; they have millions of frames...that I don't actually like! They all seem to sell variations of the same shape. Larke stands opposite to this in telling a very defined story, like very few eyewear brands do and you can clearly see the type of person that will wear it. I think you are ready for Larke once you have unlocked the secret...glasses are super-cool and super sexy! When you find the confidence to wear glasses proudly Larke's beautiful, bold classic shapes in soft colours, horns and tortoiseshells will wink at you.

The antithesis of throw away fashion, Larke is a small and considered range of timeless shapes, made in England to last a long time! Laura tells me she even offers a bespoke service. You can make an appointment to discuss shape, colour and most importantly (and so rare these days!) your personality and lifestyle to find what is perfect for you.

Laura's mood-boards show her very considered choice of colours. Most of them are limited editions, simply because Laura chooses rare, end of line Italian acetates, so once stock of a particular colour is finished, this will no longer be produced. 

I love Laura's form-follows-colour approach; some colours are only available in a particular shape, "they may only suit a particular style, so they can't be found on all frames" as Laura tells me. These are my favourite...

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Sunday, 1 September 2013

New kids on the block: the future is here


In recent years, London's Design Museum was supposed to have been a place at the centre of the design debate, yet it had become just the home of design; as in the place where you could find all those product design icons of the past (and some recent creations too). These where just for looking at, never to interact with. Relevant and thought provoking questions where rarely asked. The design process behind these icons, the failures the Castiglionis, the Chalayans and the Newsons must have (surely!) encountered, very rarely shown. So, as a young product designer this made for a very daunting experience; there it was, the finest example of design telling you "phwaa...there is no space for your work on this shelf, next to me" and you left, dragging your humbled self esteem out of the Museum with you.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I visited "The Future (was)is here" on Sunday. There where young designers playing around with mini CNC routers, desktop laser cutters and of course 3D printers, there where lots of chin scratching and failures first attempts at creating an object. There was lots more food for thought, the focus wasn't on new technologies per se, but mainly on how new ways of production change our relation with the products we use and wear (some depressing and some really exciting!).

I particularly like Ron Arad's view on the technology behind his 3D printed glasses: we "should talk about what is good about the glasses, not about how they are made" (these glasses are printed in one piece and with a "hinge" that allows them to flex only in one way)

Digits2Widgets vision of where 3D printing goes is "not that there is a universal kind of machine that everybody has in their house; that would be really depressing because humanity has developed skills over millions of years and 3D printers are just a tool that will allow you to bring something else into the mix". Yet "the physical characteristics of a 3D printed material make it unique, and in order to make interesting things you are having to be creative with the design".

 But just as importantly here is what people (in the UK) think about new technologies:

Here is an interesting article I just read on 3D printing and counterfeit.

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