Beate Leinz may not be a household name (yet), but she is responsible for designing some iconic frames in the world of eyewear – some of which provide inspiration for other brands and makers to this day. Designing for PRADA, Tom Ford and Yohji Yamamoto, Leinz has a ‘claim to fame’ or two – now she has set out on her own, to create a collection of iconic frames with her own aesthetic, for a change: LEINZ Eyewear.
What was the beginning of your journey? Did you always know you wanted to work in accessories? Oh, I think at that time in my life the word ‘accessories’ didn’t even exist in my world; I was young, it was 1985. In terms of the ignition of my journey, I knew I had to learn a lot about design and production. After high school I started an apprenticeship as a watchmaker – I was really thrown in the deep end, learning how to fix watches with a monocle on my eye on an extremely technical level. Although the technical drawing really stood to me later in life – when I first started in eyewear this experience and background was invaluable. The technicalities in watchmaking and eyewear are not the same, but the method in which they are practiced is almost identical. I didn’t stay in watch making because… my watches never really worked! I’m not such a technical thinker, more of an aesthetic constructor. That is why goldsmithing was more my world; that’s where I went next. I worked with the jewellery designer Wilhelm T. Mattar in Cologne who I still admire deeply today. I think of him as more of an artist, he creates art in the shape of jewellery. I learned a lot from him that I practice in the creation of my frames today.
Would you say that you implement your learning from that period in your life into your designs now? Yes, absolutely. I think it’s more in the aesthetic rather than the technical side – the base is beauty – you bring what you feel inside and create something beautiful with it. First, you need to understand what it is, what makes something beautiful; something is beautiful when it reaches your heart – not only your eyes, like a beautiful person – it’s deeper than that. Mattar and I discussed this a lot in our work together and I still think about it when I design and create.
You’ve worked for some absolute giants in the fashion industry, tell us about your time there…Yes! I worked for Prada, Tom Ford and Yohji Yamamoto, being a part of these brands was exciting and a highlight in my life, absolutely. For Prada, I worked in a team of designers, we worked on the theme “minimal baroque” – the theme of Prada’s show that year. The team worked tirelessly to contribute to and design a pair of truly iconic frames. I complemented the spiral design on the arms with the best matching fronts. The frames ended up being sold really successfully, so much so they are still copied to this day. Of course seeing the success of my designs was a huge confidence boost; it erased any doubts I had and proved to me I was capable of creating something special. Design is a process; you have to try, try and try again to find something that is widely accepted and adored by the market, whilst still creating something innovative and new.
Was it the success of these iconic frame designs that encouraged you to start your own brand? It was and it wasn’t – I mean that in the sense that the desire to do so was always there, but of course this success brought me reassurance and confidence as I mentioned. I think it only pushed me further towards finally getting the courage to do what I had always wanted to do. Even when I was in Cologne all those years ago, I met with a producer from Denmark who created some prototypes of my designs – of course at the time I didn’t have enough money or experience to start my own brand – but the urge to do so was certainly there. I realise now the amount of work and creativity that goes into inventing a revolutionary and iconic frame. Although my earlier design successes are credited to another label, I know that’s what I signed up for. You put so much into something, and then you give the work up and it’s gone. But I am proud of that. All the same I feel thrilled to see my own name on my own work for a change.
Tell us a little about LEINZ Eyewear? I mean, to put it simply; my brand is me. There is not much else to add!
We’d love to hear a bit more about your latest collection…The inspiration for my latest collection came from my desire to “re-invent” 3D printing, giving it a bit of a “glow-up” as my daughter says. I am also in love with acetate as a material, so this provides the perfect contrast to the 3D printed material – I think contrast is necessary in all design, in materials, colours, tones and textures; that’s what my work and my design is about, it’s important to me. This collection brings that contrast to another level; the frames are deconstruct-able and they each incorporate two tones / colours, this is not something typically done in 3D printing. There are a lot of brown tones in the collection, it’s incredibly on trend at the moment and I love the colour. The structure of the frame itself has a fluctuating wave of density throughout, flowing seamlessly from lens to arm. Each section of the frame was printed as its own independent shape – endless combinations of contrasting colours. I’m eager to see how this will succeed in the market, because I love bulky frames.
In terms of sustainability, where does LEINZ Eyewear stand? I am passionate about sustainability and the world we live in, it’s nothing other than fact to say we are part of a world that over-consumes. However, I think in the world of eyewear over-consumption is not the major problem – some people hang on to glasses for years, there isn’t as intense of a desire to keep up with trends in comparison with the rest of the fashion industry. Packaging, display props, care tools and cases is where our area of waste and destruction lies, and it is here that I am trying to create as little waste as possible within LEINZ Eyewear; our display stands and cases are made of recycled leather and are recyclable. I hope to have zero-waste surrounding my frames in the near future. For more information visit www.leinzeyewear.com. (Instagram: @leinzeyewear) This feature interview took place on Zoom after SILMO 2021. Written by Victoria G. L. Brunton exclusively for Eyestylist.com.