3D printed eyewear by Barcelona design studio, Creax
With the rise of 3D-printing, a young generation of designers is coming to the eyewear arena from other specialisms – interested in the sustainable potential of the eyewear alongside the opportunities offered for individual design and customisation.
Josep Mateo Muñoz, product designer, Creax Design, a design and innovation studio in Barcelona, launched Liq Eyewear with focus on the potential of Polyamide and its creative appeal when exploring shapes. “Polyamide is a natural material, it is light, warm and pleasant on the skin,” he told Eyestylist. “The material allows us to design “liquid” shapes which would be impossible to produce with other materials.” The frames at Liq have a lightweight construction achieved with a sculpted finish on the exterior and interior of the designs and finishes are gently textured – with colours ranging from bright red to natural stone-like tones.
With a self-designed magnetic hinge system, Zeiss sunlenses and an attractive protective soft grey felt bag, the Liq designers has managed to balance their love of modern design and fashion in a comfortable, inexpensive product they can produce out of Spain. “Liq started as an internal project at the studio: we thought that it would be a good idea to apply our experience in eyewear design to our own brand taking advantage of the benefits of 3d printing and controlling the whole process from our studio, avoiding overproduction or excessive waste in manufacture.”
About the label: Liq Eyewear first launched in 2018. The liquid-inspired shapes are 3D printed in Barcelona, Spain – and the collection is now widely available in Spain in optical shops. The new 2021 collection promises frames with sculpted decorations and surfaces with holes and openings – watch for new styles such as Liq Rain and Liq Lava opthalmic/sun styles with details only possible using 3D printed technology.www.liq-eyewear.com
When an architect, an investment analyst and a craftsman combine the result is apparently founding a quality-driven, on-trend and up-and-coming eyewear brand in the Big Apple: Lowercase NYC. Gerard Masci first realised his passion for eyewear as young as 13. Years later, he was connected with Brian Vallario and then with Ryan Langer – the three used their respective industry acquired skill sets to forge a team unmatched in artistry and individuality creating a collection of pieces that showcase exactly that.
The team’s passion for quality and style is obvious in each aspect of their small-batch product design and manufacturing; using an immersive approach they source high quality materials – such as Italian and Japanese acetate, Carl Zeiss sun lenses and German engineered hinges – and a mix of technology as well as handcrafting techniques to deliver each pair of glasses with their onerous stamp of approval. Aside from the physical materials and labour that play a part in the production of each piece, Lowercase maintain an intimate level of knowledge in each step of the journey – from design conception to send-off – a 30 step process to be exact, all done over the course of two weeks from the comfort of their amazing Brooklyn Army Terminal workshop.
The workshop itself is iconic and like no other – standing since 1919 it was once the largest US military supply base during the Second World War. Now, in Brooklyn – the most ambitiously creative and diverse district of NYC, it houses artists, designers and makers from all stretches of the industry – each working alongside one another and inspiring each-other to create – and yes, it is open to visit.
I have the McKenna frame (Ox blood colour) – a striking style with a subtle cat eye lens; the subtlety means they maintain the sharp finish and statement impact desired in a cat eye shape – but make it less intense and more rounded. These frames are versatile, there is no outfit that these won’t adapt to or improve. The quality is noticeable…Carl Zeiss sun lenses provide 100% UVA/UVB protection, and the barrel hinges and coated screws ensure long-lasting accident proof structure. In spite of their high-fashion, fun and delicate appearance these sunglasses block out UV rays and rest firmly and comfortably on the face; the levels of quality in each part of the design, manufacturing and production process can be seen and felt.
Lowercase have an engaging and immersive website which allows customers to experience every aspect of the brand and its collection including a step by step video on the production of the glasses within the Brooklyn Army Terminal – right up to them being delivered into the customers hands, as well some further information on some interesting initiatives the brand takes in their endeavour to be as sustainable as possible. For more information visit https://lowercasenyc.com and find the McKenna – in Ox Blood, Powder Blue or Gold Flake, at https://lowercasenyc.com/products/mckenna. A review by Victoria G. L Brunton.
A special event in Italy for independent design brands
A new event concept by the founder of Miga Studio Eyewear (Italy) and like-minded independent eyewear brands and designers will take place on 7th September 2020 at Villa Avanzi, Lake Garda, Italy (by invitation only).
The concept is designed to bring customers and brands together again in a stunning, safe yet intimate setting, and to allow opticians access to some of the finest independent labels and their new offerings, in line with new social distancing protocols.
“We have organised an entire day dedicated to opticians who wish to discover unique eyewear with an inevitable glass of wine,” says Alessandro Fedalto of Miga Studio Eyewear who has conceived the event with others as a result of the many cancellations of trade events through 2020, due to the global pandemic. ” 20 eyewear brands from Italy, UK, Germany, USA and Portugal will share their latest projects and designs releasing for the new season and 2021 with a group of 100 stores located within easy proximity of the stunning shores of Lake Garda and the historic location. For more details contact [email protected]
Curated with exceptional care and attention, the distinguished family-run optical boutique Kitschenberg in Munich, has been providing an eyecare service and an extraordinarily refined selection of eyewear to a very specific community of frame wearers – for more than 20 years. Stocking over 80% panto and round glasses shapes, owners Andreas Kitschenberg and his wife Steffi choose every piece themselves; with an unprecedented knowledge of the highest-quality labels and an appreciation of the craftsmanship and finesse of the materials – Andreas says they have identical taste for glasses – the couple go out of their way to explore new makers and designers with individual, covetable designs from around the world.
The shop itself is something of a destination and perfectly encompasses the beauty and refinement of the selection of eyewear inside. Andreas explained to us the redesign: “Last summer, the time had come for something new and we completely renovated the shop. The 29 square meter shop has a 4 meter high ceiling and is covered with walnut wood. The lines are very angular, the inner shape is like a cube – a clear contrast to our otherwise round glasses. We worked with interior designer Stephanie Thatenhorst – and as you might imagine we have had a lot of compliments for the design of such a small yet striking space.”
Labels currently featured here include TVR from Japan, Lunettes Alf from France, and Savile Row from the UK. “These are glasses with a soul, just as we like it; glasses that stand out from the crowd, handcrafted with absolutely meticulous attention down to the smallest details…”
The Kitschenbergs have also added their own small acetate collection – Kitschenberg acetate – and a luxurious buffalo horn series – Kitschenberg Horn. “All of the styles are of course Pantos,” says Andreas, with delight.
At Kitschenberg everything is by appointment, it has always been that way, allowing a more personal fitting and selection of a frame. “We are located in a very beautiful part of Munich, between the old town and the Isar river. There are good restaurants here, but no other shops. We don’t have walk-in customers…everyone is coming to us very specifically and often they have been coming back time and again for years.”
“Each frame is the intersection of craft and art – a representation of our vision for modern designs crafted to last….”
Fleye Copenhagen’s innovative, creative concepts expand yet again with the introduction of ‘Elements of Art’: an eye-catching arts-inspired collection which pays tribute to Denmark’s Thorvaldsens Museum, its evocative colours, architectural features and marble and plaster sculptures.
Through a process of experimental molding, the designers at Fleye sought to recreate the mood of the works – and the process of creating them – while adding a contemporary context. As they explain, “Rather than molding in clay and cast, the designers began creating soap in various forms, colours and patterns from the Thorvaldsens Museum. Afterwards the geometrical blocks of soap were stacked on top of each other, creating art sculptures and visions for the new designs.”
The result is a line up of glasses with new inspiring colorways and engravings as well as patterns and playful transparencies created by light reflections and closely aligned to the historic elegance and visual aesthetics of the Thorvaldsens Museum and its exuberant heritage and works of design.
About Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark (www.thorvaldsensmuseum.dk) – the museum is dedicated to the art of the Danish neoclassical sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, who lived and worked in Rome for much of his life. The museum can be found on the island of Slotsholmen, near Christiansborg Palace. More information about this new season arts-inspired collection at www.fleye.dk
Gemmologist and award-winning jewellery & eyewear designer Ely Yili Cao is a graduate of the prestigious RCA in London. Her latest work is entitled Lunette de Diadème.
“My collection uses luxury as a perspective and high-end jewellery as a platform,” says Ely Cao. The designer, who has taken part and won the 100% Optical / RCA Eyewear design competition (in 2020 and previously) for a work featuring delicate pearl settings, has created her latest work – Lunette de Diadème – as a means of exploring how spectacles have infiltrated our lives beyond a medical device and symbol of impairment.
Working with a mix of materials such as rhodium plated silver alloy, fresh water and Tahiti pearls with bluetooth earphones, Cao has imagined and created a new personal concept in luxury glasses, incorporating high-tech, connected to artisan jewellery-techniques, with handmade settings and a genuine appreciation of traditional construction. Her attention to detail continues into innovative functional and aesthetic features – with highlights which include beautifully conceived moveable jewellery parts, interchangeable lenses, and a hugely appealing charging case.
About: Ely Yili Cao, a designer who specialises in jewellery, eyewear and accessories, an authorized gemmologist and appraiser, earned her BA (Hon) degree in Jewellery Design, at the Central Saint Martins’ College of Art and Design, finished gemmologic study from GIA with scholarship, and recently graduated from the Royal College of Art fashion programme, specialising in accessories and eyewear. Her design and craft skills have been selected and awarded worldwide — by organizations including The Goldsmiths’ Centre, The Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council in the UK, Gemological Institute of America in the US, Barcelona Art Jewellery & Objects (JOYA) in Spain; and by commercial companies including The Leatherseller’s Company, Theo Fennell and William Morris London (100% Optical / RCA competition). For more information visit @ely.yili.cao (Instagram) andwww.elycao.com
Launch of three made-in-NYC styles as the Brooklyn label returns to normal production
A set of three stunning new handmade frames is announced by Lowercase, the NYC independent artisan label working out of a historic Brooklyn factory. The label has recently resumed full production post-lockdown and the new designs – Rose, Lenox and Astor – offer a refreshing reminder of the intricate processes and distinctive handcrafting techniques that go into a small-batch production at this level.
The three new bookish frames are inspired by the renowned libraries of New York City, where the Lowercase manufacturing workshop is based. Merging craftsmanship with modern design, each style has its particular nuances from the effortlessly stylish shaping of Rose and the classic, versatile, and flattering Astor to the Lenox, which features rounded corners and smooth lines that soften the hard geometry. All Lowercase sunglasses are produced in hand-polished acetate and feature the finest hardware and quality Carl Zeiss sun lenses.Find out more at www.lowercasenyc.com
UK start-up TimeFrame, created in lockdown, proposes bespoke frames made from old stock and restoration of vintage specs
A new project by a UK dispensing optician – created in lockdown whilst on furlough from his regular work – offers customers a bespoke sunglasses design, made from pieces of old, unused, upcycled or vintage eyewear. Elliot Carey says that alongside repairing special vintage eyewear finds from the past, he is creating one-off designs using pieces of unwanted spectacle frames that the owners would otherwise throw away.
The limited editions sunglasses are fitted with new UV protective lenses with a choice of colours and tints – depending on the requirements of each client. Above: old eyeglasses reconfigured into new “Frankenspex” designs – the styles have a Gothic-infused style and finish
Carey has also sourced a selection of unique vintage frames, some of which he will reconfigure for his clients, who include individuals with a love of vintage eyewear, theatre companies, and people who just want to recycle their frames and use them again.
With plans to expand the bespoke service and create designs inspired by architecture and design details in his local city, Carey is confident that demand for his handmade recycled styles will increase as the fashion industry resets its focus towards a sustainable agenda. A one-off bespoke design without a huge price tag is an attractive proposal to a young 20+ age group especially for those, according to Carey, with a passion for upcycled fashion and a desire to recreate their perfect specs and give them a new lease of life. To find out more visit www.ebay.co.uk/usr/timeframer90
Fun yet classic, with focus turned to sustainable, energy-efficient production as well as charming, easy-to-wear design, the second capsule by Gemma Styles and Kenmark Eyewear is announced with a further 5 timeless shapes, in youthful colours including honey, watermelon and caramel. Styles says she focused on the longevity of the shapes, making sure they could be loved and enjoyed by their owners for years to come.
“The Young Ones” – a petite acetate cat eye – pictured above in carbon: “The inspiration for this shape was a photograph of my grandma from the early 1970s” says Styles.
Continuing the theme of the first collection, each sunglass is named after songs from Styles’ personal favourite playlist that embody the look and feel of the frame. Gemma also wanted to give back to a cause near and dear to her heart, mental health.
To do so, she created a special ‘Find the Light’ style (‘Don’t Stop’ in Caramel) specifically to donate 10% of the proceeds to mental health research. It was important that this style had a positive song association.
The first line created as a collaboration between influencer/writer Gemma Styles and Kenmark Eyewear launched in 2018 with four styles. The new sunglass designs are available exclusively at www.baxterandbonny.com from the official launch date of 7th August 2020. For more information about Kenmark visit www.kenmarkeyewear.com
While small-scale brands enjoy popularity among consumers who seek authenticity, quality and style, these labels are also seeing more and more opportunity to propose bold statement designs, with interesting colours and a more individual look, even in these times of global pandemic.
Certainly, growth in timeless, unisex classically oriented specs and sunglasses is expected where economic recession looms, and a desire to play things safe may become the status quo. However, smaller independent labels continue to tell us that their specialist designs – those that offer a different more unique style focus, are still very much in the running when it comes to current purchasing trends. Some have even cited lifestyle changes such as our continued use of Zoom – where the camera hones in on the upper body and face – as precipitating a trend for more adventurous specs choices and a shift toward colour and more impactful, memorable shapes.
Above: SOL SOL ITO model 048 offers a new interpretation of a 70s square eye shape in daring tones of red, hippie gold or blue – the sunglass style is eye-catching for its novel shaping but also for its beautifully curated colour palette – if wearing with a mask then coordinate colours carefully. www.solsolito.com Photo by Hans Hansen
For an unforgettable statement, the bold signature shaping of a floating lens mount is the eye-catching focus of the Regumbo by l.a.Eyeworks – a frame that is as extraordinary as it is aesthetically exciting. The dazzling colour choices range from the classic black to a soft delicate powder pink and absolutely adorable patterned ‘Merry Mix’. Visit www.la-eyeworks.com
Elongated narrow 90s inspired sunglasses have been around for a while now and are still a staple for Gen Z. The colourful versions which offer a funkier spin (AF17 above by Reflect Eyewear) are a particularly desirable statement-making style accessory this summer with growing appeal for all ages and sexes. The Newquay comes in black and coral red – and has decent UV protective lenses at a very competitive price. Find more 90s inspired shapes in this genre for men and women at www.reflect-eyewear.com