Designer of the Month

Our Designer of the month

Hapter

Hapter

1st April 2014 Hapter was created in the Italian Dolomite Mountains in January 2013 by founders Eric Balzan and Mirko Forti, when they launched the txt1001 collection, featuring a trademark tactile expressiveness obtained by a special fusion of surgical steel to high-end textiles. Balzan and Forti share with  Eyestylist how they created and are developing their business.

Before the discovery of the amazing goggles, in what profession were you working? “Mirko brings on board several years of solid experience designing for some of the big players in the eyewear business. Trained as an Industrial Designer, he is in charge of product development, and is the technical side of Hapter,” says Eric.

The goggles that inspired  international award-winning eyewear - HAPTER

The goggles that inspired international award-winning eyewear – HAPTER

“I am more a hybrid profile matching creativity and business experience, with solid brand and product management experience gathered in a variety of fashion companies, primarily in the eyewear business, but also in apparel and more recently in the watches and jewellery segment. Hapter represents the overlapping zone of different experiences, cultures and personalities of Mirko and I. And the ambition is really to lay the foundations of an eyewear project based on creativity and debate between opposite elements, like Mirko and I. In 2009 the discovery of the heirloom glasses, and the three years that followed have been chaotic, with an uncertain period of dreams, hopes, tries, failures, excitement, and we invested all our savings to create our own independent enterprise.”

M01M  by HAPTER txt1001

M01M by HAPTER txt1001

Please tell us about your background and love of mountain climbing?

“Mirko and I met at college, but it was about ten years ago that we started to develop a friendship based on important common interests, mainly in design, eyewear and the mountains. We are expert all-rounders – from ski mountaineering to snowboard to rock and mountain climbing. We assiduously spend our free time wandering on Dolomite Mountains that surround us. We initially treated them as a playground; through maturity we evolved to see the mountains as a mystic place, and a source of experience and inspiration which deserves respect. The mountains are an important element of our culture; therefore, of our project. Besides the lucky retrieval of the military goggles, out minds are soaked with cultural and visual inspiration that comes from the mountains, and this is what we transfer into our project….and in fact….the elements in our project are:

Brand: We chose the name Hapter by the concept of ‘Haptic Perception’ which is the process of recognizing objects through touch: hands are still the most important body-part to survive in the mountains, and observing the strong hands of mountain people is an experience in itself. Design: The Dolomite region, in the far north of Italy, is an historic military battle front, but this for us also represents a land of integration between varied and symbiotic cultures. In Hapter, we combine the rigorous structural concept derived from a Nordic engineering background, and the artisanal know-how and flair of Mediterranean expressiveness.

Tradition: Hapter offers the exclusivity of a multi-prized object, nevertheless it carries the tradition of a luxury product, thanks to a contemporary reinterpretation of unique local materials with history. Style: Mountain people are no-frills and straight to the point – ‘repulsion for excess’ guides all our design, creative and stylistic choices; the fabrics used in collection txt1001, though artisanal and precious, were developed by an Italian expert in artisan fabrics. They have a light weave and sober, natural shades. Visual Inspirations: We transfer a specific mood, that is typical of the mountain environment: wind, cold, solitude, sufferance, effort, survival are our topics that we transfer to the collection.”

MG01 Replica of the heirloom Military Goggles

MG01 Replica of the heirloom Military Goggles

What is the profile of the Hapter customer?

“People that take things a bit more seriously than they should…this is how we are, and how we think our customers could be. People that, no matter what their social environment is, look for solitude and intimate realization in their fast lives. People sensitive to beauty with a consolidated experience of critical consumption, looking for an intimate experience in what they buy. Most of the numerous spontaneous contacts and requests for information in the market comes from artists, fashion and product designers, architects or similar professions. And we think a good number of them fall under the above description.” www.hapter.it JG

Photos: Top photo of Mirko Forti and Eric Balzan, and image of the heirloom goggles by Luca Santocono exclusively for Eyestylist.

Jérémy Tarian

Jérémy Tarian

1st March 2014 His tall, lithe figure is silhouetted against Parisian landmark buildings – Eglise Saint Germain des Près, and Aux Deux Magots – the latter the favourite café of Jean-Paul Satre, Simone de Beauvoir and other literary luminaries. In his own metier, Jérémy is an eyewear designer of international acclaim. Paris is an inspriation for Tarian – The Left Bank being a favourite and familiar haunt, while The Marais is another source of energy and reference. Streets, buildings, and history all inspire his work. But so do travel, people, museums, nature, architecture – in fact – life itself.

We settle comfortably at Deux Magots, and over delicious coffee, Jérémy relates his eyewear odyssey. “I designed my first fame for myself, as ‘revenge’ because I needed to wear glasses from the age of eight.” However, his “revenge” evolved into a continuing unbridled passion for eyewear. He worked at ic! berlin for two years – where he won his first Silmo d’Or – before setting up his own business three years ago. In 2012 he captured his second Silmo d’Or – the eyewear equivalent of a Bafta or Oscar trophy – for his sunglass design Saintonge. Tarian’s sunglasses and optical frames can now be found in over 200 boutiques worldwide.

 

Parisian Sophistication - Saint Germain by Jérémy Tarian

Parisian Sophistication – Saint Germain by Jérémy Tarian

How does his design process work? “When I design, I really need to concentrate only on design, and I find this more and more necessary. I just cannot say ‘oh well, I’ll take an hour and design’”, explains Tarian. He also finds his master classes in eyewear design at HEAD (Geneva University of Art and Design/Switzerland) have a reflection in his work. “I find that working with the students opens me to new ideas. Glasses are not just a product, but also a personality on the face. I find that talking with the students, and listening to their stories, who are from all over the world, comes into my thinking.

Tarian draws each line, curve and detail of a frame design, and he says: “My designs now are very different from when I began five years ago. I focus more on comfort, and I can see how just one millimetre can change everything. Harmony is important – how the shape will fit on the face. I love working in acetate and metal, and there are so many things to explore with these two materials. For the collection in the autumn, we are experimenting with new textures, using these two elements.” The Tarian Collection is also eco-friendly, and only the finest quality acetate is used in his designs.

Cosmopolitan Flair by Jérémy Tarian

Cosmopolitan Flair – Zurich by Jérémy Tarian

“For independent designers, it’s so important to keep independent in terms of product, and to explain the brand philosophy,” says Tarian. His original, unique and desirable frames contribute to making eyewear such an exciting accessory with creative design and style. www.jeremytarian.com JG

Zoe Lee

Zoe Lee

Shoes with Flair and Originality

1st February 2014 The maze of little Parisian streets in The Marais is always fun to visit and enjoy a stroll. So much French history can be explored in this area, plus there are many irresistible cafe’s, galleries and shops! Sometimes, a new treasure is discovered, which I found recently while scurrying down the rue de Parc Royal. Nestled in between an art gallery and a café, and only steps away from Musée Picasso and Musée Cognac Jay, is a charming boutique – Zoe Lee Shoes. Peering into the shop, it was evident that the designs were beautifully crafted and lovingly created.

Feminie and Flirtatious

Feminine and Flirtatious

The talented woman behind these must-have shoes is a cosmopolitan young lady, the daughter of a Japanese mother and Canadian father. Zoe Lee studied fashion design at Central St. Martin’s in London. However, she became interested in shoes, and continued her design studies at The Royal College of Art, where she was mentored by the shoe-king, Manolo Blahnik. Her impressive story includes working with Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Betty Jackson and John Rocha, plus she spent several years designing in Barcelona. Then she moved back to London, and during a visit to Paris, happened to find this boutique that was available. Lee successfully navigated infamous French bureaucracy to open her little boutique jewel last October.

Spring/Summer 2014 by Zoe Lee

Spring/Summer 2014 by Zoe Lee

“I’m inspired by everything – travel, exhibitions and seeing beautiful materials,” says Lee, “and I love leather and enjoy sourcing fabrics for the shoes. When I design, I like to cover different types of people who would like to wear the designs.” Family owned companies in Italy, who have been crafting fine shoes for three and four generations, make the shoes. The materials used in Zoe Lee shoes are luxurious and creative. Printed kidskin, bronzed patent, brushed linen, nubuck with laser techniques, and incredibly soft suede are all included in her shoe designs. I tried on several pairs and they feel wonderful – like a cosy hug for your feet. Zoe Lee’s innovative interpretations in materials add to the pleasure of wearing the shoes.

Shoe Chic by Zoe Lee

Shoe Chic by Zoe Lee

Zoe Lee is among the discerning accessory designers who value and appreciate haute couture quality, beautiful materials, and expert craftsmanship. When in Paris, definitely pop into her shop, and her shoes can be ordered online. Zoe also commented that her mother is an eyewear collector – Eyestylist looks forward to meeting her! www.zoelee.co.uk JG

Ti Kwa

Ti Kwa

Creative Director, Rigards, Hong Kong

1st January 2014 “My background is in apparel design and manufacturing, a somewhat logical extension of my lifelong interest in fashion and the technical construction of things,” says Ti Kwa, Creative Director of the buffalo horn specialist label, Rigards. “I started Rigards with my business partner Jean-Marc Virard, a French recording artiste, currently based in Los Angeles. Jean-Marc and I share a vision that combines the love for design and an appreciation for handcrafted eyewear. We met doing what we both enjoy— snooping around an old antique store, and now we’ve joined forces.”

Rigards first came to our attention in 2012 and since that time we are delighted to have seen the brand shooting to the attention of the optical sector, as well as the fashion industry, with specialist stockists appearing across the globe.
“I have been wearing glasses since I was 8 so I guess it’s no surprise that I’ve parlayed my boyhood fascination with how to make things into Rigards,” explains Ti. After a ton of research—we don’t claim to be experts but we certainly have learnt a few things,
having also experimented with acetate and wood—and we took the plunge with horn. With horn, we saw an opportunity to produce our eyeglasses under conditions we felt were optimal: traditional craftsmanship, exclusivity, and sustainability.”

Rigards represents not only artisanal craftsmanship, but also a desire to try new and different techniques. “Horn is a material that translates our aesthetic into a physical object, yes, of course,” – explains Kwa, “it’s also a medium that presents unparalleled textural possibilities—the freedom to go where our creative imaginings can take us. Each piece of horn is absolutely beautiful in its own way and as unique as your fingerprint. Horn is warm to the touch and allergen-free, and therefore very comfortable to wear. Working with horn is a painstaking, labour intensive and time-consuming process, but the result is incredibly satisfying. Understanding the aesthetics and behaviour of horn has enabled us to use a conventional material in unconventional ways, to create frames that are both compelling in their beauty and complementary to the times.”

Atelier, Rigards

Atelier, Rigards

“In the Japanese spirit of “kaizen”, our emphasis is also to improve on what we’ve done previously, to refine our collection on all fronts: superior lenses, hinges, techniques. Gradual steps rather than abrupt leaps. We also have a couple of collaborative projects in development—the who and how of which I’m going to keep under wraps for the moment.”

RG0024 by Rigards

RG0024 by Rigards

Rigards exhibits at Paris Fashion Week at least twice a year. The fashion forward audience appreciates their avant-garde designs and showing in Paris helps them to maintain a good relationship with the fashion industry. “The pleasures enlivened by traveling,” says Kwa, “and meeting old friends and new ones, and the city during the buzz of PFW, of course, never fail to be an enriching source of inspiration too.”

Asked about his interests outside eyewear, Kwa has many that are linked to design. “I have an obsession with collecting vintage finds: modernist furniture, 1940s phantom heads and, of course, antique eyewear. Travelling is what I do quite a bit these days and as tiring as that can get, it’s also invigorating to step out of my everyday routine to see and experience something foreign. I also enjoy discovering independent labels (a long-time favourite is Sarpaneva Watches from Finland), perhaps because we ourselves are an indie label. I like the idea of small-time designers with a stronger dedication to originality and quality being quiet revolutionaries in a culture of consume-and-discard. So my design aesthetic, I suppose, is influenced by a conglomeration of them all: my eclectic taste, my quasi-wanderlust, my affinity for good old craftsmanship.”

“We will be kicking off 2014 with a presentation at Opti Munich (Jan 10-12, Messe München, Hall C4 Booth 608). There’s always something special about the first time so we’re eagerly looking forward to the event—even if the weather forecasts suggest it will be bitterly cold. We’re also equally excited to be returning to our private showroom in Paris— please join us at Galerie de Thorigny on 1 place de Thorigny from January  16-20  2014. All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year. Happy 2014 to everyone, may all your new ventures be a galloping success!

www.rigards.com

 

 

 

 

 

Fusing Nature and Art

Fusing Nature and Art

Suzanne Klemm – Suzy Glam – The Netherlands

1st December 2013 This month Eyestylist visits with Suzanne Klemm, designer at Suzy Glam, who launched her label earlier this year. Why did you decide to create eyewear? “My first education was as an optician. I was seventeen, and listened to my parent’s advice not to study (like I wanted) design, but instead learn a “real job” where I could be financially independent. I used this profession as a side job next to my later profession as a jewellery designer. I studied jewellery and exhibition design at Zurich University of Arts, and I have a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Utrecht. In the optical shop in Amsterdam where I work part-time, I met Etienne Frederiks. Quite soon it was clear that we wanted to start our own label. We combined our interests and talents, and developed over a period of more than one year our first collection. Now it seems very logical to us that we took this step.” Inspiration: What are your sources – travel, art, architecture, your jewellery background?  ”Nature is an endless source of inspiration to me. I try to materialize my observations. On the other hand, visiting art installations and sculptures gives me a drive to work. Some of my ideas are going in the direction of jewellery, some in the direction of eyewear. Sometimes I use shape or technical solutions for eyewear from my jewellery experiences. I create a concept that helps me to give a sense to each creation, and a coherency between every single piece. In other words, I like to think in series.”

Suzy Glam is Right on Time in Coffee Acetate

Suzy Glam is Right on Time in Coffee Acetate

As a newcomer to the optical world, were there any challenges/obstacles to start? “Starting is always hard and uncomfortable. At the same time, it was one of the reasons why we took this step – starting something new is extremely exciting. Every step is a step on unknown territory. The fact that Etienne had so much experience and contacts in the optical world helped us a lot. Everyone we knew supported us and we are very thankful for that.” What materials are your favourite in which to create frames? Do you have a “wish list” for materials that you would like to use? “I love acetate. I love plastics in general, also for jewellery. It’s warm, colourful, soft to touch, translucent and it gives me the possibility to shape it very three-dimensionally. I know it would be a good time to create in metal, but at the moment I express myself the best in acetate.”

Ring by Suzy Glam in epoxy and wood

Ring by Suzy Glam in epoxy and wood

What advice would you give to designers/students who wish to enter the optical design world today? “What advice? Hmmm…same as for every design direction student; keep it close to you. I don’t believe in marketing research. Sure it can work out for earning money, but for satisfaction…..besides that, you can compare it to fashion: a trend is always coming out of a fresh, creative mind, and never out of marketing.” Anything else you would like to include? “About your site: I’m happy that this kind of platform exists, before I designed eyewear, I wasn’t aware of that. It helps to pull the optical world out of the traditionally, dusty profession, where it sometimes still is.” www.suzyglam.com  JG Photos: Image of Susanne Klemm and Etienne Frederiks exclusively for Eyestylist by Gilles Stüssi Frame photo: Dick Kikstra

"Works in Progress" from The Mondelliani Collection

Italian Heritage

Mondelliani Eyewear – Rome

1st November 2013 The vibrant, lively colours of the Mediterranean pulsate through the Mondelliani eyewear collections. The Rome-based company has a long history of an optical presence in this fabled city. Forty years ago a boutique was opened by Giancarlo Mondello, which now has cult status in the city with its wonderful collections of Mondelliani styles, as well as acclaimed independent designers, including Theo, Anne et Valentin, Lindberg, and Yellow Plus among others. The family legacy continues today with Giancarlo’s wife Rosaria, and son Federico heading the Mondelliani team. Above photo: “Work in Progress” at Mondelliani

 

Panarea Avenue by Mondellaini

Panarea Avenue by Mondellaini

Giancarlo Mondello was interested in photography, with a stylised ‘lens eye’ enabling him to understand design. Everything in the Mondelliani collection is linked to colour – “Our attitude to colour is closely related to our being Italian,” says Federico Mondello. Gorgeous, superb quality acetate hues of green, ocean blue, vibrant orange, champagne, and aquamarine are among the delectable tones available in the frames.

 

Ballon in sun-kissed Cabernet by Mondelliani

Ballon in sun-kissed Cabernet by Mondelliani

Expansion of the Mondelliani brand began eight years ago with the launch of a second shop. Then in 2009, there was the debut of the frame collection.  The delightful, sunny colours take their cue from the proximity to the Mediterranean, and the lovely Aeolian Islands in the south of Italy, near Sicily. Inspiration for the beautifully crafted designs for men and women is also gleaned from customers who visit the shops. Quality is keynote at Mondelliani – eveerything is handmade in Italy, with fine Zeiss lenses. The frame tones and lens tint colours co-ordinate – and the harmonious results are stunning. www.mondelliani.it JG

Ramiro Pereira Paulino

Ramiro Pereira Paulino

Paulino Spectacles, Portugal

1st October 2013 We first met founder of Paulino Spectacles, Ramiro Paulino, in London around this time last year. Since then we have been delighted to see their fantastic progress into international specialist stores, and so we asked to catch up with Ramiro and colleague John in Paris just a few days ago….

From what we see, Paulino Spectacles is growing quickly. How is everything going? The feedback we have been having has been beyond expectation, and things have moved very quickly for us. As a new, small independent brand the idea was to take things one step at a time, but without any major marketing strategy our frames are now available in London, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Oviedo, Lisbon and Porto. The collections will also be available further afield very soon…..we are delighted to have a new distribution coming up in Asia.

You continue to concentrate on handcrafting and traditional spectacle making techniques using exclusive, very elegant acetate? My aim is to go against the grain of mass production, and continue my grandfather’s traditions. Every frame we make is produced in the only remaining factory of its kind on the Iberian Peninsula. With not one single computer in sight, the frames are tooled by hand using very fine organic acetate from Mazzucchelli. We insist on a level of finish that matches our vision and design qualities.

This production process is arduous and takes several days. From the hand made tools that start off the production process – using rasps, saws and files – through to the manually operated pantograph that cuts our frames, one by one, to the tumbling – a process that takes at least 48 hours – which smooths the surface and prepares the frame for hand polishing. We use vintage pins on the hinges, some of which are over 30 years old. This gives me great pleasure and a certain sadness at the same time, as one day they will run out. In any event, it all takes time and makes for a high-end product. I really believe the end result is worth it  – frames with their own unique personality and comfort, which mass production can never match in terms of that hand finished quality.

Martim by Paulino Spectacles

Martim by Paulino Spectacles


Explain when you are launching your collections each year – you have a slightly different concept in mind I think?  My idea is not to launch collections as such but to release new models throughout the year. We have just launched a new model this September and for October, we are on track to release three new models and three further ones before the end of the year. We are also looking to increase our range by launching our first metal frames within the first part of 2014. So we’re pretty busy on the launch front.

Latest colours for Alberto by Paulino Spectacles

Latest colours for Alberto by Paulino Spectacles

Where are your biggest successes so far? Which styles have been a hit? The Alberto, Martim and Sara models were the first models to come out and they have been the bestselling ones overall. Since it came out in February, there has also been a lot of interest in our Filipa model. Though vintage and feminine, it is very up-to-date. It was also a pleasure for me to design it. I was inspired by a model Jacqueline Bisset wore in 1973. It was a metal model and what caught my eye was the ring/circle over the bridge. I ended up designing “Filipa” which is a cateye of course, but differentiated by having the open ring in the bridge.

Hand-finishing at Paulino Spectacles

Hand-finishing at Paulino Spectacles

 Could you explain about the cork you use for the accessories cases? Is it sourced locally in Portugal? Yes, the cork is a local product. The idea for the accessories is, of course, to match the quality and philosophy of the frames – handcrafted and made by artisans using old fashioned tools. Cork was a natural starting point for us, as it is very much a Portuguese product and it is organic. Even here, though, we are looking to try new things. We already have in place a new material that we’ll start using this month – Burel, also a 100% Portuguese product made from natural wool. The factory is located in the “Serra da Estrela” (Star Mountain – Portugal’s highest point) and is also made in the traditional handcrafted way. My idea is always to look at the possibility of adding new natural products that are unique to our country and that fit with the Paulino philosophy.

What do you expect in 2014 or what are your hopes for Paulino Spectacles? I expect and hope to consolidate on the very fast paced 2013, so to speak. And I have an idea to add a metal collection soon. As mentioned, things have moved quickly for Paulino Spectacles - a great sign that our collection strikes a chord. But my wish is not to mass market Paulino Spectacles. We just hope to bring the quality and interest of the label to people who wish to try it, whereever they are.

www.paulinospectacles.com CN

 

 

 

Meet Mr Kilsgaard!

Meet Mr Kilsgaard!

1st September 2013 Kilsgaard Eyewear is the Danish eyewear label that has become famous for its expertise in fine, lightweight aluminium. As designer and founder, 34-year-old Jacob Kilsgaard himself says, “We are the company that made aluminium work as a frame material. Aluminium is half the weight of titanium, and it’s the only material you can colour anodize.” “Anodization”, he explains, “is an electrochemical way to colour aluminium. The colours are everlasting and very unique, they are deep and bright and very modern.” It’s an achievement and specialisation that has set the brand apart and set it on an exciting road to success. The Kilsgaard team now have offices in Copenhagen and Aarhus in Denmark, and their frames are available across the world in 35 countries. “Our main office in Aarhus in an old building in the Latin quarter. It is a cozy space where everybody feels at home. The design team and partners Bonnelycke MDD are four blocks away. They are our external designers, but we work closely with them, as we have done from day 1; we are friends and this is a joint project that has become very strong.”

Model 54.1/3 by Kilsgaard

Model 54.1/3 by Kilsgaard – launching this month in Paris

Launched in 2008, Kilsgaard has grown steadily in Europe. In the US, Jacob works with good friend Shane Baum of Baum Vision. ” We launched in North America two years ago and we have a growing business there. It is a privilege to work with friends and Shane and I are best buddies as well as business associates.” In design, Kilsgaard manages to bring vitality to metal frames, and an individuality that is exciting. “We have found a corner of the business where we – as we see it – are on our own. We try to use some of the same elements as the fashion industry – especially the Danish fashion industry.”   The Danish design roots are important, but Jacob explains this in his own way. “I find my inspiration in Denmark’s design heritage – solid materials, minimal design, and caring for the function intended for the product, comfort and every day use. Many of the Danish designers set out to create comfortable furniture that looked great, in that order. The basics need to be in place. This is our starting point as well.” Eyestylist asked Jacob to reveal something about the new collections coming up. “We have six new shapes and one new colour being added to the existing range. Our new temple concept employs a new material that we haven’t used before – titanium. It is really something to talk about!”

 

Kilsgaard - Model 56.6-1 launching this month

Model 56.6-1 by Kilsgaard launching this month in Paris

Outside work, Kilsgaard spends time with his daughter, new girlfriend and family…and he loves to cook. “I had a catering company while I was “studying” in Aarhus many years ago. My love of cooking didn’t go away. I cook everyday with Smilla, my four year old daughter, and try to pass on my passion for great food and the importance of high-quality ingredients – I like to show her that good food can bring people together on many levels. To me, cooking and dining with people is a very private special thing. If I cook you dinner, you’re in…I love skiing, good wine and change. I guess my working life has made me somewhat impatient. I don’t get bored easily but I enjoy change from the daily routine. It keeps me going.” CN

www.kilsgaard-eyewear.com

Tom Stevens Eyewear

Tom Stevens Eyewear

Design Inspiration in The Netherlands

1st August 2013 This month, Eyestylist chats with Tom Stevens of Tom Stevens Eyewear in The Netherlands

Please give details of your background. “I used to be an optician and started my first independent optical store in 2001. Two years later, I opened a second store and enjoyed the years working with people, and always looking for new collections to fill my shops. In 2008, I sold both stores and started doing what I really wanted to do: designing frames. Together with my business partner we launched the children’s label Red Kids Eyewear. In 2011, Tom Stevens Eyewear was launched.”

What inspires your eyewear designs? “My ideas and inspiration for new designs can come from anywhere: cars, buildings, fashion, shapes I discover in objects. I start drawing shapes that I prefer or might be interesting for new models. I like to anticipate the trends too. For instance, ultra round shapes in our new titanium collection. The colours for each model are partly inspired by fashion and catwalk trends. We used neo coating on previous models, as an example. The different seasons also affect my preference for certain colours. The new collection – which will be launched in September – shows darker, sophisticated and ‘calm’ colours, such as midnight blue, matt gold, warm autumn red and soft creamy white.”

Do you have a customer ‘profile’ in mind when you design? “I don’t think of a potential customer when I design. I just draw shapes that I like; this part of the process is quite abstract actually. Clearly I think about measurements, sizes and fittings for male and female faces. But for me, my designs can be worn by all sorts of people.”

Acetate Excellence by Tom Stevens

Acetate Excellence by Tom Stevens

 

In what countries are your frames sold? “Our collection is sold in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Italy, Ireland and Denmark. We are in the process of distribution with South Korea, the U.S. and Australia.”

What are your favourite eyewear materials? “I prefer to work with acetate and titanium in the highest quality. We are experimenting with new materials, and new ideas often pop up in my mind, but it has to work in the final product too. Acetate and titanium have proven to be very solid and beautiful materials in which to produce frames.”

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring creators? “Follow your heart, work hard, have fun and never, ever forget what started you in the first place. You will have to overcome bumps in the road, and it might be hard. But if you do something you believe in, and it’s the only thing you really want to do, keep going for it. It will pay off.” www.stevenseyewear.com JG

Caroline Abram

Caroline Abram

Accessories with Colour Composition

1st July 2013 Caroline Abram escorts me into her wonderfully spacious premises, complete with a terrace, a loft and a proper kitchen. It’s a lovely, airy environment in which to design and work, a hub of creativity for Abram’s many talents, and her expanding international business. She has an intriguing eyewear history- her parents are involved optics – her father is an eye surgeon, and her mother Annette was the guiding light behind les créateurs d’Opta, the Paris boutique, which was among the first to promote independent eyewear designers. Her creative daughter launched Filao eighteen years ago – a collection of eyewear accessories made in Africa. Abram speaks fondly of the women who make her designs. “Yes, I have my Filao ladies in Senegal,” says Abram, “these women make the accessories by hand – beaded and glass chains and cases, and other items. I spent my childhood in Senegal, and living there helped me so much with my work, because the women there are always mixing colours – yellow, blue red – anything they put together works. They have a real sense of colour, and they know what they are doing.

 

Caroline Abram Eyewear "Freshness and happy" Design: Farah Envol

Caroline Abram Eyewear
“Freshness and happy” Design: Farah Envol

“In 2008 I made my first frames, and the real question is – ‘why didn’t I do it sooner’?” I’d had it in my mind for a long time, but I wanted to create my own identity  first, away from everything I saw in the stores. And  then I decided to start my cat eye project – which people were not wearing at that time.” The concept developed in parallel with Abram’s life in Africa, and the considerable time she spends in southern Florida. “Florida is my ‘country home’ – the American version,” she says with a laugh, “and my mother and I are crazy about thrift shops – it’s a real hobby. There are many of them in Florida, with items from the 50′s, 60′s, and 70′s. We are buying, buying and buying. I’m in this time dimension – I’ve always been a matching colour lady, and friends kid me about that because I dress differently. I mix Miami and the colours of Senegal, far from the European way of life. My frame collection had to be a colourful cat eye – it was meant to be! I have variations on the cat eye – large and small. I like to use clear colours and bi-colour, happy frames, fresh and alive. I think the collection is a reflection of me – cat eye with a sense of humour.”

 

Sunglasses by Caroline Abram: Colourful Expressions

Sunglasses by Caroline Abram: Hilary in Colourful Expression

Caroline loves all accessories. “With my designs, I want an accessory environment. I want people to understand that frames are a real accessory. That is why the name Filao will soon disappear, and the new brand name is Caroline Abram Eyewear and Fashion Accessories. My next plan is to further the men’s collection.” The vivacious designer describes her concept of the woman who wears Caroline Abram frames. “The complexity of a woman is always in my mind. She wants everything, and then she doesn’t want anything. In French we call it ‘contraire’ (contrary). She is independent and funny in everything that she does – perhaps a bit stubborn too. The designs include all the characteristics of women, with no age barrier. She is happy, and my frames are always wearable, and she doesn’t feel out of place. Freshness and happy – that’s important for me. People want personality without exaggeration.” www.carolineabram.com JG

Vidal Erkohen, RVS by V.

Vidal Erkohen, RVS by V.

Fresh eyewear colour and energy from Istanbul

1st June 2013 RVS by V., the Turkish spectacle label, based in Istanbul, was created by Vidal Erkohen, a collector of vintage eyewear. Handmade to order, the frames are colourful and exotic, both in acetate and metal.

“We give importance to colour, timeless design and quality. We also offer custom colour combinations. You are able to choose your own custom lens colour along with your temple and frame front colour with each order you make. We are also able to custom imprint all frames depending on your request. By letting customers add some of their imagination into each design makes a real difference for them; for us it helps us better understand what they want in the future.

RVS by V. Palladium series

RVS by V. Palladium series, model 001

Erkohen became interested in eyewear at an early age. ”When I was at high school I found a drawer full of my father’s sunglasses which had not been worn in years. I took them to an optician in Istanbul who turned out to be a real artisan. He restored the frames for me and showed me how to do so in the process. It was then that I fell in love with the art of frame making and restoration. After wearing the frames we restored, people started to ask me for similar styles. I got to a point where there was enough demand to open up my own vintage website, Rare Vintage Sunglasses. Over time we started to supply boutiques, private clients  and celebrities worldwide.”

In 2007, Erkohen launched his own collection. “I launched a 25 piece collection at Selima Optique in New York. My goal was to bring back the quality and originalty in design that was put into frames of the past; I believed that was missing at that time due to the lack of independent brands around.”

RVS by V. Love Collection, 2013

RVS by V. Love Collection, 2013

RVS by V. now has its own small-scale factory in Turkey. ”We have 2 floors spread out to 4000sm area; it is more then 50 years old. We have 30 people working there who all still do almost every aspect of our production by hand, working together like a family. We have now also started to produce for other brands that are looking for an alternative other then China or Italy and believe that very soon we will be able to showcase more of our production on a larger scale all over the world. Turkish craftsmanship is truly wonderful although not known as well as it should be. Our goal is to make sure we promote what we can do in the best way possible.

So what’s the focus for 2013? As always we are focusing on new colours and interesting colour combinations combined with new materials that have never been used before. They are sure to awaken the imaginations of all those who love colour. We have eight new optical frames in the new RVS Love Collection, featuring vintage and new Mazzucchelli acetates in colours that try to reflect the mood people are in when in the state of love. We are bringing a lot of new designs, collaborations and inovations to the table in 2013, along with our new label – POV, Point of View.

RVS by V. Love Collection, 2013

RVS by V. Love Collection, 2013

Of his influences, Erkohen talks of many but particularly his travel experiences. His former years were spent in New York where he lived with his family (father who is Turkish) and mother (who is Morrocan/Israeli) and brother until he was 11. “We later moved to Istanbul where I got the chance to see and live a very different culture then I was used to until that time. Once we started to live in Istanbul we were traveling in Europe frequently; this gave me a wider perspective that very much affected my sense of style. I always look back fondly at those days and believe that is the reason for my need to create something that reflects classic chic while also bringing something different to the table. Turkey is a country full of history and inspiration that most of the world is still unaware of. Living in Istanbul brings inspiration to my designs and everything I do almost everyday, for this I feel very lucky.”

Erkohen shows great passion for the current growth in individual independent labels in eyewear. “I think this is not only a good time but it is The Time for independent brands to start creating new things and take over the eyewear world with their creations. The main reason we started RVS was to bring something new and limited to the table and educate consumers on what they were buying when the eyewear world was still ruled by mass production and companies producing pieces by the millions.

Today the situation has changed. Consumers have started to educate themselves on the quality of eyewear they are buying and they have also started to take notice of the smaller brands and look for originality and quality in the product they are purchasing. Is an exciting time for independent brands and we are happy to be a part of this movement.” CN

 

Oliviero Zanon

Oliviero Zanon

Eyewear Ingenuity from Res/Rei

1st May 2013 On several occasions, I’ve been fortunate to have long chats with Italian designer Oliviero Zanon, who is an engaging conversationalist. He’s well versed on many subjects, and of course, one of his favourite topics is Res/Rei, the specialist eyewear design company he co-founded in 2011. Zanon shares with Eyestylist the background that led to the creation of Res/Rei.

“I went to university in London at Central Saint Martin College of Art and Design. I did a Foundation degree in Art and Design, and then a Products Design degree, graduating with first class honours. Central Saint Martin, in many ways, is different from any other University out there. Its uniqueness is in the “hands on” approach with things. The students are asked to do the whole design process, from research/idea to prototyping/manufacturing implementation. Getting your hands dirty building things in the workshop is an inspiring experience. After university, I started working as an industrial designer in London where I lived until 2010. I worked for IDEO London and Munich, an American consultancy that focus on Human Centered Design. This was a meaningful experience.”

Lucio - Limited Edition by Res/Rei

Lucio – Limited Edition by Res/Rei

“My encounter with the optic business was definitely by chance. The reason that led to the creation of Res/Rei is the will to work at close contact with artisans and producers. At one point in my design career, I was consulting mainly with blue chip clients, huge companies with thousands of employees. I couldn’t relate any more to the design process; it was too impersonal. I wanted a more human experience, and making frames was the answer. In this business you can control the whole process and interact with all the people involved – from manufacturers to final clients. It’s work but it feels like family…we are making so many new friends during our journey, and it is quite amazing.”

 

Teodosio by Oliviero Zanon for Res/Rei

Teodosio by Oliviero Zanon for Res/Rei

Res/Rei started in 2011 – in the midst of economic uncertainty. Did the economy ever make you “think twice” before starting the company? “Of course, the current economic crisis makes things more difficult, but it also creates opportunities, especially for new companies like ourselves. I know, this sounds like a cliché, but it is actually quite true. We are building our brand around firm ethical principles – like the sustainability of the manufacturing. Hopefully, most of our customers share the same vision with us. This gives us the opportunity to build a long lasting relationship with them.”

What inspires your designs? “Part of the inspiration comes from talking to other people that have meaningful experiences to share, mostly outside the optics business. Speaking of which, I’ve just spent a very inspiring day at the Milan Furniture Fair.”

Do you have a “profile” of a particular customer when you design? “Not really. We are not interested in following the stream. We are slowly building our unique identity. Of course, it takes time and you need to do lots of design interaction to become proficient as a brand, but eventually we will get there. It’s a different story with colours and shapes. On this matter,there is a clear distinction between men and women.”

Res/Rei is creating frames in acetate, metal/acetate and titanium – are there any other materials you would like to use? “Right now, we are experimenting with a new material nobody has used so far. But I can’t tell more about this – it’s top secret!” Photo of Oliviero Zanon exclusively for Eyestylist.com by Gilles Stüssi www.resrei.com JG

 

 

 

Christian Roth and Eric Domège

Christian Roth and Eric Domège

A new story, rooted in the past, at Christian Roth Eyewear

8th April 2013 I first started following Christian Roth when I got my first job in optical publishing back in 1999. In the ’80s and ’90s, this independent label had already played an impressive role in establishing sunglasses as a key accessory in the fashion arena, and their glamorous shades were worn by everyone who was anyone in fashion and music…memorably, because of the extraordinary images that ensued, Kate Moss, Agyness Dean, Lenny Kravitz, and many, many more.

Series A, Optical Affairs Christian Roth / circa 19??

PAST: Series A, Christian Roth / 1980s

Today Roth and Domège have new plans, both in eyewear and beyond, with new capsule collections including optical frames and sunglasses, and other Christian Roth accessories that they will unveil in 2014/15 via the website. As part of our special Vintage Edition, we asked them, in an exclusive interview, about their new project, the launch of their e-commerce destination and what the future holds for this iconic name in sunglass fashion.

PAST: Optical Affairs / Christian Roth, the early years

PAST: Optical Affairs / Christian Roth, the early years – signed by Warhol

“Our first overnight success was with Series A (above), our rimless frame in acetate and metal, designed so you could customise the lens shape with the colour of the frame. It was something very different back then, so that it became an overnight success and went straight on the cover of WWD. At that time, we were seeing our frames on all kinds of influential people from different walks of life, from Andy Warhol to Diana Ross, but it wasn’t endorsement, they were genuinely buying our frames and wanting to wear them because they loved them. It was incredible. It is our privilege to have lived in NYC in that period when celebrity culture was not such an issue.

“In the early 90s we joined the CFDA, thanks to Anna Wintour and Candy Pratts Price (the US Vogue team) who wanted the best eyewear designers on board as part of the Association; that was another important moment. We were the first to be a part of it, we were there at the right time!  And it offered so much – we were given the support of Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs as our ‘godfathers’. We began to work with these very big designers. We had a very inspiring working relationship with Karl Lagerfeld for the runway shows and collaborations with the most prolific and talented designers of our times continued for decades. We had our own studio in New York and we started to run private views of our collections. It was in a very cool place next door to a famous agency where we met a very young Claudia Schiffer.

Kaleidoscopic Cool by Christian Roth

PRESENT: From the new Christian Roth BLOCK-ON Capsule 2013

“Today we have completely redefined the Christian Roth concept, our image, and collections – placing the spotlight on the best of “Christian Roth”. We have created a whole new life for the brand adding fun, excitement and the unexpected for eyewear aficionados. Our goal is to now connect through our crisp, conceptual and modern e-commerce destination – www.christian-roth.com –  with our many visionary fans from all over the world, and to reach more seekers of beautiful and unique eyewear. It is a very different, very personal site, where you can get behind the scenes.

“In 2013, the new frames will be availably via the site and through a few ambassador optical stores. Our first Block-On capsule collection includes Italian acetates and Japanese titanium. It is all about craftsmanship, high-quality and mixing geometric, precise, graphic and modern elements. We have worked in a very detailed way with special touches, mixing colour and chic transparent tones. Every frame is crafted by artisans to have its own identity and uniqueness, and we will renew our capsule every few months with new additions, another unusual concept in eyewear that we feel will be exciting for our online customers. On the site, we have added a small shopping area for rare vintage designs, both our own and others; it is something fun, for collectors and people who love the history of frames. The site also shows our support for OrphanAid Africa, something which touches our hearts.

“For the future we want Christian Roth to grow into a one-of-a-kind independent accessory brand with new categories which we will launch in 2014/15. We believe this is really something that will complement our frames and the spirit of the brand and appeal to the luxury market’s expectations. We have a great devotion to eyewear, and it is exciting for us to develop a new choice of accessories that will make sense for Christian Roth Eyewear”. CN

www.christian-roth.com