LAPIMA, Brazil: Gisela and Gustavo Assis

Imagine the beautiful concept of an eyewear brand born in the hills of the Brazilian countryside, founded by an architect and a ballet dancer – the result is indeed as dreamlike as it sounds. Gisela and Gustavo Assis – the founders of LAPIMA, met at a very young age and rekindled their connection later in life resulting in the creation of a beautiful family, and an ethereal collection of high-quality, handcrafted artisan frames.

I understand that Gisela had trained towards a career as a classical ballet dancer for years and Gustavo also hoped to become an architect – tell us a little about the journey these incredibly diverse careers took to get you both crossing paths with each other, and eventually culminating in the creation of LAPIMA…It’s funny, since we were both little we had an appreciation for art and beauty. When we met, I had just quit dancing and Gustavo had just gotten into university studying business – not architecture – so, we were both quite frustrated. However, together we managed to deal with it and found other artistic forms to nurture our creativity such as going to art museums, visiting theatres, attending performances and movies together. Slowly, we discovered we had a lot more in common, and the results of that discovery have been our three children, as well as our fourth child: LAPIMA.

Sasha X Amber by LAPIMA – described as a shape that is “courageous and empowered”

Would either of you say that your experiences and inspirations that may have been derived from two such creative industries – as dance and architecture have been reflected in the branding of LAPIMA, or in LAPIMA frames in any way?

Absolutely! Movement is a huge inspiration in the creation of our frames; a model that does not move is hard for us to photograph, because the surfaces of glasses don’t reflect light fluidly, so without movement – the images would never get Gustavo’s approval. We love creating geometric images, using colorful sets and frames, playing classical music, bossa nova and rock and roll. We are never silent or still.

A huge part of your own individual identities as well as the LAPIMA brand identity is Brazilian culture and pride in Brazil’s vast, beautiful landscapes – what was process like in setting up your own production site in your home country?

We love our country, and we chose to be here and to raise our kids here, so to build a business in our hometown was a very natural process for us. Campinas was once an eyewear hub for many decades – prior to Brazil opening our economy to the world – and there are a lot of experienced artisans in the city. We managed to find them, learn from them, share our dream with them and build LAPIMA together. It is a great feeling to know we are also preserving the craftsmanship of our town and developing our own community by providing jobs in the process. LAPIMA’S office and atelier are in the same building and only ten minutes away from where we live. This allows us to bring our kids to school, have lunch with them, be at home for dinner and still be in the office in the morning and afternoon – that is quite a privilege, especially these days.

In a 2019 article W Magazine described your lenses as the “new old Celine” – a complimentary comparison to make in the world of eyewear, what are your thoughts on this statement?

Carlotta's Village
OGI Eyewear
Visit J.F.Rey
TVR advert 2021 linked to the TVR website

It was indeed a huge compliment; we are very honored and proud of the work we are doing. To be compared to such an admirable maison is not simple, and it brings huge responsibilities, but we are determined to keep being original, creative and avant-garde. Compliments like this motivate us, and move us forward.

Nina Forest Solid by LAPIMA: inspired by the raw patterns and grooves of the Atlantic Forest

LAPIMA outsources their product materials from Europe; German hinges, to French lenses and Italian acetate – this of course enables the quality of the products to be among the finest in Brazilian eyewear, however, considering the growing demand for self-sustaining businesses and sustainably sourced materials – would LAPIMA ever consider potentially insourcing from Brazil?

It would be amazing if we could find the same acetate, lenses and hinges of the same quality in our country – but unfortunately that is not the reality – in order to keep the high-end status of our products, we need the best materials. On the other hand, we handcraft each piece in our atelier from start to finish; the artisans who are employed by us can continue to use their own art form without being substituted by a machine, as in big factories. To stay sustainable, we make it a priority to not keep stock, in our attempts to do so we only produce in small batches of product to limit waste; we work on demand and only start production after an order has been received.

You have both succeeded in creating a beautiful brand that takes ‘vintage’ inspiration and combines it with elements of modernity, creating unique, timeless and artistic frames – does LAPIMA have any exciting plans to evolve or progress further in eyewear, or perhaps further into the fashion industry, in the near future?

Thank you for those compliments! We know LAPIMA still has a long path ahead in the eyewear and in the fashion market, but this doesn’t phase us; we have a lot to show the world. We are excited to have recently launched our optical collection as well as our new storefront in Brazil. Collaborations with fashion brands are certainly on LAPIMA’S radar…

For more information about the new LAPIMA store visit:www.eyestylist.com/2020/12/lapima-shop-opens-in-brazil/ – visit LAPIMA’s website at www.lapima.com An exclusive Eyestylist interview by Victoria G. L. Brunton.