Boutiques

History & heritage: Ottica Casoni, Modena

A family-owned store with a rich past – officially listed by the Province of Modena with the title “Bottega Storica” (Historic Artisan Store) of Emilia Romagna

With an historic architectural style that is typical of the city, Ottica Casoni is located in an impressive palazzo building which offers elegant warm colours and distinctive porticos. Formally the French embassy in the 1800s, the location was first turned into an optical shop in 1933 by two young women.

Giovanni Casoni, the first member of the Casoni family to work in the optical business and at this very location, graduated as an optician in Emilia in 1946. After a short stint working in eyewear production, he decided to take over the shop from the previous owners in the 1950s, and he grew and directed the family business until his son Roberto took over in the 1980s. Today, brothers Emanuele and Alessandro, the 3rd generation of the Casoni family to be involved with the business – are running the store together, with passion for and dedication to some of the finest eyewear brands from around the world.

Interior: in 2016, the interior was renovated to present its rich history

The shop was last renovated and redesigned in 2016, Alessandro told Eyestylist. “We’d been thinking about it for a while. And we gradually have managed to update the interior to what you see today. We wanted to resurrect different elements of the interior of the past…gradually adding some of the items and instruments used by our grandfather – in order to create a special point of interest and to take a look back in time at how our store looked in those previous times. The final project to make it a reality came through our collaboration with the designer Dino “Neropaco” who created a perfect harmony between the history and modern day/avantgarde.”

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Interior; balancing historic Italian grandeur with contemporary design

A love for fine eyewear design is immediately evident in this shop, and in its tastefully edited social media posts that first caught our eye several years ago. Alessandro adds, ” A love for eyewear is part of who we are, and something we’ve inherited from our family. Our interest has evolved because we are curious and we enjoy finding out more and traveling to international fairs…this has allowed us to come across some marvelous projects which always impress us, whether it’s the innovative crafting, an original form, or an extraordinary precision in the details.”

Traditions of the past – a corner for frame adjustments with vintage style fittings and old-fashioned tools

Today, Ottica Casoni offers independent eyewear brands from around the world, including Anne & Valentin, AKONI Haffmans & Neumeister, Piero Massaro, JMM, and Lesca curated as a special selection because “each collection has its own unique identity which makes it recognisable and different from the other ones.” One of the latest to be added was the Italian designer Piero Massaro, who works with skill in multi-layered acetate designs. Asked about sustainable materials, the brothers added that they have decided to dedicate more space within the selection they offer to limited small-scale production and designers using sustainable materials, recycled packaging and sustainable practices that are based on low waste.

Via Luigi Carlo Farini, 65, Modena, Italy

The Art of Optics, Dubai (UAE) – Box Park

A store with a young and energetic vision – Box Park, Dubai

Ahmad Albanna, owner and founder of The Art of Optics, Dubai, is an eyewear aficionado with his own collection of independent specs and sunglasses and an enthusiastic interest in art and design. “With a passion for frames, I have always been in search of unique, unusual colorful eyewear,” he told Eyestylist. “So when I opened my store I went to the optical exhibitions to select each pair of glasses myself. I knew some of the brands from being a collector. But when I started to visit the fairs I got to know some more. Some of the brands we have are here in Dubai for the very first time. We stock just one of each optical or sunglass style selected,” he adds, a way to ensure exclusivity for customers in Dubai, and a theme that runs in store and on Instagram endorsed with the hashtag, #WeOnlySellOne.

The Art of Optics: an uplifting bold colour scheme is a highlight of this artistic modern store concept in Dubai

The colourful interior of The Art of Optics store presents unique eyewear designs from around the world. They include theo and Hapter, Kuboraum and Rigards, Sabine B and JF Rey, Nina Mur and Masahiro Maruyama. Against a backdrop that is bold and multicolored as you enter the store, the individual pieces are shown like works of art, and without crowding the walls. “I wanted to be simple but unique,” says Albanna, “and not like the usual optical store. The bright, joyful colours are welcoming and warm.”

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Line drawings on the walls of the store by Iranian artist and Dubai resident, Nadia Namvar

Eye-catching wall art lines sections of the interior, a visual focal point and “a main branding feature” at The Art of Optics. Assisted by Albanna’s son Salman, the team has taken care to achieve a successful profile for the store on social media and particularly Instagram. “The line visual by Nadia Namvar is simple but creative, and represents the brand. Our logo was designed by a young Emarati designer Nuha AlMuqbily and the interior design is by Italian designer Gian Luca Armucida.” On social media, the line visuals and professional shots of models wearing the unique and creative frames extend the brand identity beyond the confines of the physical store.

Find out more – The Art of Optics is located at Box Park Dubai (www.boxpark.ae). For opening hours and to learn about the unique glasses available visit the website at  www.theartofoptics.ae

Eyes On Hudson, Hudson Valley, NY

A family-owned, state-of-the-art store in Dobbs Ferry, NY – specialists in contemporary independent eyewear design

Katelyn Rogerson’s new store Eyes on Hudson opened in 2020, a breathtaking state-of-the-art retail space turned independent eyewear destination. With an extraordinary mix of curated collections by independent designers, the store represents a new dynamic retail concept achieved through youthful passion, a natural affinity with artisan design and over 10 years’ experience working in one of New York’s famed eyewear stores.

“When we moved to this area about 30 minutes north of New York City,” Katelyn told Eyestylist via Zoom, “we immediately knew it was missing a destination eyewear spot. We envisioned a place that not only had beautiful curated eyewear, but that would also be a cool place to hang out.”

The interior features reclaimed wood and timber and a refined use of colour

Despite restrictions of the pandemic, the husband and wife team opened the store in 2020, after a period of planning and design work, with Creative Director San Siguenza. “The vision behind Eyes on Hudson was an epiphany moment. The Hudson Valley, in New York state, is uncommonly beautiful with deep historical and artistic roots. Everyone lucky enough to wake up and see the Hudson River on a daily basis knows its breathtaking beauty. To see it is magical. To see it, you need to see. So the idea came to us that we can be the purveyors of vision to fully appreciate the beautiful place in which we live, and we should reflect that beauty ourselves as well.

Beyond aesthetics, Eyes on Hudson’s brand is rooted in being a local, family-owned shop for personalised eyecare, selling independent and locally designed eyewear as well as big name labels. “I have been fully entrenched in the independent eyewear world my entire career,” says Katelyn. “It was always a given that independent eyewear would be core to our brand. We are lucky that New York is rich with eyewear design talent, so featuring local designers has been fun and seamless.”

“When I think about what I love the most, I come back to our cohesive brand identity, which is rooted in the Hudson Valley and incorporates our independent ethos. It’s palpable from our logo to the colors and textures of our visual design to our digital presence.” Katelyn Rogerson

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Interior: features also include industrial metals and leather furnishings

Distinctive features of the interior include the use of natural reclaimed woods, timbers and industrial metals evocative of the Hudson Valley location and its history. The brass and leather furnishings were added to give a feel of relaxed luxury to an otherwise rustic/industrial concept.

These details go together with collections of eyewear that represent local talent from New York – Lowercase, MOSCOT, and Moss Lipow, – as well as several designer lines which are considered particularly prestigious at this time such as Jacques Marie Mage and Kenzo Takada for Masunaga.

And now, and for the future, the owners look forward to the return to retail offering a space that is sociable, inspiring and full of music. “Probably like most, we hope the pandemic will come to an end with the distribution of the vaccine” says Katelyn when we ask what her hopes are in 2021. “We know that many people have rightly avoided retail and non-essential doctors’ visits, in order to stay safe and healthy. We are here waiting when they are ready to emerge, and we are so excited to share with them our curated eyewear collection and the Eyes on Hudson experience.”

66 Main Street, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522, USA – www.eyesonhudson.com

Gilna Opticians, Clontarf, Dublin

Located in a North Dublin suburb by the sea, newly opened Gilna Opticians is modern, stylish and on-trend

Every aspect of the store from bottom to top is modern, clean and trendy. Features include the herringbone flooring, a large banana leaf plant in the waiting area, exposed brick walls boasting a selection of stunningly displayed frames and a ‘centrepiece’ of glass display boxes running from the front to the back of the room. High class brands such as DITA, Oliver Peoples and Tom Ford are just a few of the featured collections that had an initial impact on our overall reception of the space.

Sunglass wall with exposed brick at GILNA Opticians

An impressive, unique characteristic of this store – and of the GILNA group – is hidden in its origins. The first GILNA store was opened up by John F. Gilna in The Liberties; an area of Dublin that is widely regarded as the true root of the city, in 1951 on Thomas Street. Kevin Prendergast – the current owner of GILNA Opticians – told Eyestylist that staff from the nearby Guinness Brewery, as well as tradespeople from the surrounding area were amongst the many Dubliners to frequent the opticians back then. Kevin and his business partner Terence Scully took over the business in 2004 and their branch in The Liberties continues to welcome, as they put it, “a wonderful array of loyal, local and diverse clientele” to date. The pair followed with the opening of another GILNA Opticians in the IFSC and could not wait to get their hands on the unit on Vernon Avenue, Clontarf once it became available. After a visit to the store and in seeing what they have done with the place first hand, it is clear to see why.

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Details are a focus at this new contemporary eyewear store

Kevin outlined his intentions for the Clontarf store as “something that looked like it had always been there”. This underlined another unique aspect of this boutique’s design – its heritage. Across the store you can find original features of the building: exposed brickwork dating back to 1902, original patterns of brick that were once window arches and door frames as well as portraits of John F. Gilna and of The Liberties – dating back to the founding of the GILNA group in 1951 as mentioned. These splashes of authenticity combined with the stores immaculate interior design, the showcasing of the beautiful frames – lit up and displayed as though they were pieces of art in a museum – are some of the features that make GILNA a must visit boutique for any eyewear connoisseur, or history fanatic alike. For more information visit www.gilnaopticians.ie – GILNA Opticians, Vernon Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin

By Victoria G. L. Brunton

Angles de Vue, Geneva

Bijoux store for glasses and accessories, in the heart of the city

With its vintage furniture, eclectic collections and colorful hats and bags decorating the walls makes Angles de Vue a special eye-catching destination. Set up by the young optician Olivier Novás in 2018, who completed his studies in Geneva in 2003, and then worked in a luxury opticians, the store has come to specialise in a personal and bespoke service for its neighbourhood whilst supporting local creators in Geneva, with space for fair trade design. Many of the accessory products are handcrafted and unique with simple silhouettes and lots of style, transcending time and trends, and created by local artists or artisans.

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The boutique is located in the alternative neighborhood of Les Grottes in the centre of Geneva, next to the main station. The area is often described as colorful and bohemian, and features narrow streets, leafy squares and some small and creative artist’s studios, cafes, and second hand bookstores – as well as a popular local market. “My customers are local,” says Novás “but I also welcome many travellers from further afield who’ve heard about my personalized service and store.  My regular customers recommend my work by word of mouth.”

A fun vintage feel interior: colorful accessories and eyewear at Angles du Vue – prices range from modest to luxury
Angles de Vue stocks exclusive creator’s eyewear brands sourced by the owner at international fairs such as MIDO, Silmo and Opti. Currently there are frames available by Eyepetizer, Brevno, Ross & Brown and For Art’s Sake. Accessory labels include Apesigned (face masks and other fabric accessories), Kar Noush (handmade fashion) and Maleiwa Aikat (bags).
I find my inspiration in originality, quality, design and perfection,” says Olivier, who is a keen visitor of the fairs. When we asked him to share what he would most like in 2021 he said: “I hope that we can go to visit the international fairs again, to discover all the new creations.”
Angles de vue, Rue de la Faucille 6, 1201 Geneva