Boutiques

Bril Gallery, South Africa

Bril’s Founder Werner Fourie has refurbished the original flagship store, turning it into a fun and welcoming eyewear gallery space – Bril Gallery – which brings the local community together. We caught up with him to ask about this enterprising new store experience in the beautiful wine region of Cape Winelands…

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When was Bril founded and where are you based? How many stores are there now?
We embarked on our journey six years ago, establishing our flagship store in the picturesque Cape Winelands region, specifically in the charming town of Paarl. Since then, we’ve expanded to proudly operate five distinctive stores across South Africa.
What was the idea behind the Bril Gallery and when did you re-open this flagship store – was it this year?
Our Bril Gallery is a testament to our belief that every space we create is unique, with its own character and story. Originally opened six years ago as our flagship store, it was recently transformed into the Bril Gallery. Inspired by its lofty ceilings reminiscent of an art gallery, we curated an ambiance that showcases eyewear as a form of art. We’ve also incorporated playful elements, such as adding eyewear to iconic art pieces with hidden messages, creating a delightful experience for our visitors.
Bril Gallery: eyewear presented as art
What was the atmosphere you wanted to create in the Gallery space, and how have you made the space unique and fun?
At the Gallery, we aimed to cultivate a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere. Our upbeat house music sets the tone, complemented by a diverse selection of refreshments that evoke a cozy coffee shop or bar vibe. Adding touches of yellow throughout, a signature color representing happiness in our brand, further enhances the sense of warmth and joy.
In your posts on Instagram, you say it is a place of “joy and happiness”. Please explain. What was your aim with the interior colors and fittings?
Our brand essence revolves around spreading happiness. Through thoughtful design elements like cheerful wall tattoos featuring inspirational quotes, pops of yellow hues, and playful eyewear keyrings, we infuse every corner with a sense of joy. Our marketing strategy embraces quirkiness to bring smiles to our customers’ faces, ensuring they leave our stores with a positive and uplifted experience.
A unique experience awaits at the gallery which has lots of special design features including a bespoke oversize collectible lens cloth and lens cleaner spray
Tell us a bit about the area where you are located and the people who shop at this special new optical haven “with wine tasting!”
Situated in South Africa’s renowned wine district, our location attracts a dynamic community of individuals who appreciate adventure, style and quality. We often host engaging events like wine tastings and collaborative art sessions with local talents, fostering a sense of community among eyewear enthusiasts and showcasing our commitment to creating memorable experiences for our customers.
What kinds of eyewear brands are you selling there, and do you find your customers have a particular focus – more on timeless design and quality, or trendsetting colors and materials?
Our diverse eyewear collection primarily features our exclusive ranges categorized into the Bril House, Bril Premium, and Bril Unique collections, catering to various style preferences. The Bril House range offers trendy and affordable options that evolve with fashion trends. In contrast, the Bril Premium range emphasizes timeless designs crafted from premium materials like Italian acetate or titanium. Our Bril Unique range showcases one-of-a-kind pieces renowned for their exceptional quality and innovative designs. Additionally, we curate select international eyewear brands not commonly found in South Africa, providing our customers with a unique and captivating selection.
Left: transport at Bril for the “Home Fit Service”; right, a pet-friendly practice – Pepe the wire haired fox terrier in residence
We have noticed some pets in residence at Bril Gallery. Tell us more!
Indeed, we have two beloved pets, Bekker and Pepe, who occasionally grace us with their presence at the store. They add a playful and endearing touch to our space, delighting customers with their charm and friendly interactions.
Bril owns stores in Paarl, George, Stellenbosch, Pretoria and Val de Vie. The Val de Vie space is described as a “concept store” with a fully equipped examination room, to be able to offer eye tests to the residents of the estate, the workers and the home owners at Evergreen. The store there also offers frames by designers from around the world. Find out more about all the different spaces by visiting www.hellobril.co.za.

Cubitts opens bijoux store in NYC

Eyestylist Exclusive: Their first store to open outside the UK, Cubitts has created a tiny haven in the heart of SoHo on Mercer Street – they say the store has been designed “with the ornate precision of a jewellery box”

The new Cubitts flagship in New York is located at 103 Mercer, next to a rare 18th century brick house that’s played host to dressmaker, brothel, printmaker, hatter, and jeweller in its two centuries. Built before SoHo had acquired its artistic character, or even its name, this part of Mercer Street is a snapshot of another time, the UK eyewear creators say.

In the interior, features include a central S-shaped spectacle display inspired by Streamline Moderne and American industrial design. Areas of “glamorous darkness”, crisp lines, and soft lighting take cues from Edward Hopper paintings, while an underlying structured geometry borrows from neighbour Donald Judd. Overall, the interior displays a modernist theme with an utilitarian design. Rotary mirrors swivel on steel tables, an inbuilt display unit exhibits bespoke acetates, and an inbuilt desk with a custom tool rack provides a space for spectacle repairs. Above: the Cubitts store front on Mercer Street, NYC

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Utilitarian design in a modest space – with refined details and striking displays

Furnishing details include an ‘Opalino’ Vase designed by Tommaso Buzzi, 1930s Maison Desny silver vases, an LC8 stool by Charlotte Perriand, and a bespoke parchment table lamp by Tutto Bene. Tributes to the city continue into the bathroom, where walls papered with aluminium foil pay homage to Warhol’s Silver Factory. The overall aesthetic further develops the brand’s philosophy of designing each shop according to location and particular design references which link with the environment and history around the store.  Find out more at www.cubitts.com

L.G.R has arrived in Paris!

The Italian eyewear brand has added a Paris-based boutique

L.G.R, the Italian artisan brand founded by Luca Gnecchi Ruscone, has arrived in Paris, with a stand-alone store in a privileged position in the Marais in Rue du Temple. The company already has five stores in Italy in Rome (St. Peter’s and Piazza di Spagna), Milan, Florence and Venice, and the Paris opening represents its inaugural store abroad. The interior design is in keeping with these existing stores in Italy, with statement details, furniture and fittings that represent the heritage of the brand, and design features inspired by the founder’s grandfather’s store Ottica Bini and its original location in Eritrea. Above: exterior of the new branded stand-alone L.G.R store in Paris, France

Interior of the new Paris store: the design echoes that of the elegant L.G.R boutiques in Italy

Luca Gnecchi Ruscone’s statement about the opening was published in a release: “Since the inception of L.G.R, I’ve harbored a dream: to spread our commitment to Italian excellence and artisanal craftsmanship worldwide. With the unveiling of our first international store in Paris, we’re making strides toward turning this dream into reality. Paris stands as a beacon of fashion and style, and we are honored to contribute to this tradition with our collections of handcrafted eyewear made entirely in Italy. This debut store beyond Italian borders forms part of a broader strategy for international expansion, with additional openings slated for the coming months.” www.lgrworld.com

Kuboraum unveils installation-window – Miart 2024

Kuboraum has unveiled an installation-window at their Milan Flagship Store in collaboration with friend and artist Vinicius Jayme Vallorani on the occasion of Miart 2024

The installation-window has been taken over by Vinicius Jayme Vallorani, an artist based in Milan whose practice creates performative vacuums transforming the interrelation between components of metaphoric and solid matter into aesthetic events.
His work is described as lying in the interval between an open planimetry, a cinematic shoot, and a steamy encounter in which one is seduced by a rip or a river. Whether it’s a canvas or a sculpture, the spatial dimension of his pieces exudes an echoing presence. The viewer is invited to participate in a reversal of perspective from content to context and vice versa. Above: the new window-installation by Vinicius Jayme Vallorani

Window detail – photography by @piercarloquecchia @dsl__studio

The artist is the co-founder of Studio SBT, a shared artistic space in Milan home of SPECCHIOOIHꓛꓛƎꓒS project; Adriatica Contemporanea, a no-profit association with the aim of cultural promotion; and Grup. Grit., a format of encounters for art professionals.

About Kuboraum: Since its inception, Kuboraum has been shaping a vibrant community of people through events, collaborations, shared experiences, and art residencies. The collection of eyewear has been designed in Berlin and made in Italy since 2011 by co-founders Livio Graziottin and Sergio Eusebi, who created their first collection “in opposition to the dominant aesthetics in the world of eyewear”.

Kuboraum Innerraum Milan Gallery, Via Bigli 24, 20121 Milan, Italy

My Glasses Shop, Poulton

Emma Hutchinson’s colourful eyewear store brings curated contemporary frames to…everybody!

At age 15, Emma Hutchinson, owner of My Glasses Shop in Poulton, worked as a Saturday girl in a quaint local independent opticians, later progressing to a job in one of the largest surfacing and glazing facilities in the UK. “I fell into optics and I have ended up doing a bit of everything,” she told Eyestylist. “After mastering the skill set and gaining the knowledge of this process, I set off on the road meeting opticians up and down the UK as a representative. A practice I visited on the route then offered me the lucky opportunity to join the ABDO Dispensing Optician course alongside working in a beautiful design-led practice in Lytham. After 16 years working for other people, a life encounter gave me the harsh reminder that life is too short. It was at this stage in my career, I decided to open a glasses shop of my own, My Glasses Shop.”

Hutchinson has designed and curated the store with a unique personality and individual style – the furniture is particularly fun, as are the art objects. She claims that she started out without any particular style of store in mind, and that it grew as she developed it. ” We dived in head first without any concept in mind. What I do know is that I wanted a store that was approachable and that EVERYBODY, no matter what their budget, prescription or style, felt comfortable enough with that they could walk in and feel welcomed wholeheartedly.” Above: the interior features a huge African metal giraffe by Pangea Sculptures

Baloo, the 5 year old Pomapoo “on staff” at My Glasses Shop

The store’s bold colours on white walls and simple white display areas with straight lines and flat uncluttered surfaces where the frame designs are out on show, keep the emphasis on the individuality of style and design details of the frames – with a nod to the artist Mondrian. “Following a trip to Amsterdam and Berlin, we settled on a casual, welcoming art space where frames would be the art that we showcased! A love of all things Bauhaus and De Stijl became a reality in the store!”

theo frames are exhibited with “theo” art works on the walls – alongside pieces of furniture which add bright colours to the space

The style of the interior and furniture derives from the 1930’s. “It is still very much relevant today and lends itself to presenting our products in a clear and simple way without a sterile or overly clinical atmosphere,” Emma explains. “I craved the Belgian brand theo from opening, and with their new POP ART collection by Tim Van Steenbergen and theo designer Serge Bracké, I found inspiration in Roy Lichtenstein!”

Choosing the collections based on customer demographics, the shop currently offers a mix of optical frames and sunglasses reflecting current trends and looks…by theo, Zegna, BOZ, Nike and Struktur Eyewear, to name a few. “I don’t intend for us to educate anyone on what they should and shouldn’t wear.  I am also not precious about licensed or branded products as opposed to niche artisan frames, either. If it fits well, the client feels good about themselves and looks fabulous, then I am happy.  If I like a frame or brand, me and my team (myself, my life partner and brother) will showcase it and get behind it fully.  With this in mind we only buy a collection in depth and run with it.  I’ve found if you are confident enough to have a broad representation of the products in the range and actively promote it, it works!”

“We do not require a frame range to be a certain price point before considering it. We love to sell to lovely, gracious people therefore I refuse to oversell on lenses and all our dispenses are prescription appropriate.  I opt not to upsell with open-ended questions to inflate dispenses, but to offer the best to the customer, at an ethical price and this has led to a loyal client base, who continue to return for multiple pairs building their eyewear wardrobe, and supporting me on my adventure! “

The store attracts a clientele made up of “all types of wonderful people from all walks of life”. “Some are well known,” Emma says. “Along with several influencers, our dispenses have been seen on the BAFTA’s red carpet and in the Royal Box at WImbledon.  We can also throw in a couple of indie rock god’s for good measure – but we won’t say too much!”

Asked about the photos of the Pomapoo we spotted on Instagram, Emma said the store welcomes pets, any time! “Due to the fact we do not refract or offer clinical services, we have an open door policy. All are welcome including our four legged patrons! We also have Baloo, our 5 year old Pomapoo on staff to offer a helping paw during busy periods.”

My Glasses Shop, 10 Tithebarn Street, Poulton-le-Fylde, FY6 7BX Find out more at www.myglassesshop.co.uk