Creative spirits

Sven Götti

Götti Eyewear, Zurich, Switzerland

Sven Götti is the creative spirit and force behind this iconic Swiss brand. Sven describes in his own words, the history of Götti and his harmonious approach to design.

“I opened the optical shop GÖTTI + NIEDERER in Lucerne together with Urs Niederer in 1993. Through interior design, which was revolutionary at the time, plus highly respected window displays and unprecedented exhibitions, our shop quickly became known beyond the borders of Switzerland. After working hard for three years to build the business, and gathering plenty of experience, it was time for me to launch my own collection. This was new territory for me, since eyewear design was not part of an optician’s education. I soon found a CAD computer program and began to design the first eyeglasses for our shop in the evenings and on weekends. We had these produced from buffalo horn in small production series. When I took the step into independence, I assumed a very important principle that is still with me today: to always choose that which I can stand behind personally, with pleasure and consistency. Since I still design our own collection according to this creed today, my signature is still recognizable throughout the collection. What I find fascinating is that in this way, I address precisely the customer that I also tend to like.  After fourteen years of dedication, I am still enthusiastic about this exciting work, and continue to be astonished by what is possible when it comes to eyeglasses and people. I like to compare the creative process of new eyeglasses with composing new melodies. Even with a fixed number of notes, new songs are continuously being composed.  In principle, I design eyeglasses like a composer – variations in shape are my notes, and only the perfect form has the right sound.

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“For creative inspiration, I let myself be guided by fashion flow and trends.  To find these and anticipate them is a continuous process.  I often find inspiration on the road. Everywhere I go, I look for input, new designs and trends.  A walk in a city, where I see people and faces, belongs to my work. It can also be a very old model that draws my attention.  I sometimes think, ‘Wow! they had a good solution at that time.’  In our collections, we process all possible materials, like genuine horn, titanium, acetate and epoxy.  Acetate I find a particularly valuable material. The infinite varieties of colour combinations challenge the creative process.  To bring out these often hidden colours in the production of all three dimensions is fascinating. Last year, we introduced the SPIN & STOW mechanism, which makes it possible to create flat sunglasses by twisting the temple. This feature gave us a lot of fun and brought positive feedback. It is our goal to inspire our customers with beautiful shapes in addition to new technical solutions. It’s exactly this point I find so exciting and challenging about eyewear design – the combination of shapes, fashion and technology.” JG

Jesse Stevens

Finest Seven

New-Zealand born Jesse Stevens, the designer behind Finest Seven, says he is dedicated to excellence. So much so that he is producing some of the styles in his new sunglass collection in the UK where he can oversee every stage of the process and ensure the use of the very best artisan techniques whilst embracing new technologies. His intention is to keep the brand small and very exclusive, with a handful of retail outlets that understand the quality and unique handcrafting of the pieces he has made in a limited number – once sold, these will not be remade.

After 5 years working as an eyewear designer for a number of prestigious internationally renowned eyewear labels, Stevens has created a brand that is quality-driven and, he says, very distinctive. Trained in sculpture, he explains his interest in other design disciplines. He has experience of techniques such as fine metal casting and polishing from this period of his career, skills that are influencing his work in eyewear and choice of luxury metals.

Finest Seven

The name Finest Seven refers to the 7 key aspects of eyewear production which the designer strives to incorporate in each Finest Seven design: components, lenses, materials, colour/finish, design, comfort/fit, manufacture. Each area is carefully considered so that the details resonate luxury – from the Carl Zeiss lenses to the handmade cases, produced in Spain by a small artisan company sourced by the designer.

How did the launch go? Jesse explains that he is very happy to have the collection out in the market, and to begin the processes for the creation of the next season’s designs, which he says will include some limited colours especially developed for the snow. “It is a great chance to use some very high quality sports lenses with the usual Finest Seven flare for colour.”

“I am also proud to announce the launch of our Full Bespoke Service. ‘Limit your edition’ is a one to one service for fitting and design. I have been fortunate to track down a craftsman in the Italian Alps. He is a real master with eyewear. I am very excited about this service and we look forward to providing an exceptional level of design and exclusivity.”

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And are there new additions to the current luxury line? Jesse says he will add two styles in 2012 using some classy vintage hinges he has unearthed; and there is another Limited Edition also underway.

Finest Seven was launched in the UK in May and is now available in Harvey Nichols, The Eye Company and Hostem. New retailers include Bloomingdales, Dubai, Optical Tailor Cradle, Tokyo, and Harvey Nichols, Hong Kong, planned for later this year. CN

www.finestseven.com

 

Shane Baum

Leisure Society Designer Inspired by Life

June 2011 A conversation with Shane Baum is always a rewarding experience.  The American  designer of supremely elegant, luxurious Leisure Society, has astute viewpoints on eyewear, design and business that he shares with Eyestylist.

Design philosophy: “I don’t rely on the eyewear industry for inspiration, but search in other creatively driven industries.  Furniture design, watch manufacturers and electronic products often inspire me.  I also feel it is important to be honest with yourself.  As a ‘designer’, you must reflect and disassociate yourself from your finished drawings, and judge them with harsh cynicism.  My best design decisions often involve a trash can and fresh sheets of paper.”

Preferred materials: “I like working in gold-plated titanium.  It is such a luxurious material and completely inert.  It lasts forever.  The inherent flexibility of this combination of materials allows one to engrave it, shape it, mould it and texture it in a very detailed manor that permits limitless possibilities. Platinum would be interesting too.  We are working with Tigers Eye, Ruthenium and Buffalo Horn for Spring 2012. History has shown that luxurious materials hold their value better over time.  This is the essence of Leisure Society’s ethos of “Heirloom Design.”

Creative inspiration: “I maintain a ‘child like’ enthusiasm for designing eyewear. The eyewear industry is unique: part fashion; part engineering; and part medical device.  For me, the key to success as a company and as a designer is to create proprietary brand attributes that are distinctly my own, and quality attributes that only reveal themselves systematically over time. It is simply a matter of remaining true to my personal paradigm of open mindedness whilst remaining true to our corporate commitment of excellence and self-involvement.”

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The future: “I believe the world is entering a period of reverse globalization  We are noticing a trend towards locally made products crafted by classically trained artisans.  The preservation of cultural traditions is increasingly important to consumers, especially our youth.  This demographic wants meat from a butcher, watches from a watchmaker, and shoes from a cobbler.  For eyewear, a brand focused on quality and innovation should enjoy ‘just rewards’.”

Leisure Society designs are available internationally in high fashion shops and eyewear boutiques.  www.leisure-society.com JG

 

Robert Marc

Inspiration from Palm Springs

Robert Marc has had his own brand since 1999 and is now a leading American eyewear designer with eight shops in New York and one in Boston. His designs are made by hand in France and Japan. No corners are cut when it comes to quality and detail. “As an independent designer, I do whatever it takes to get what I want for the frame and the brand, however painstaking or however long it takes to ensure the production is perfect.”

I have known Robert for a long time and I recently met with him at the Four Seasons in Milan to see the 2011 collection, which is inspired by the desert landscape and modernist architecture of Palm Springs. Robert explains, “On the occasions I have visited Palm Springs, I have always been struck by the linear architecture, the straight lines and surprising pops of colour; but also the nature around me, the plants, cacti and incredible smoke tree. It is an unusual place, with an energy that I wanted to evoke in this year’s collection.”

With a subtle approach to colour, Robert uses bright yet natural colour tones, as well as some of his favourite classics, including Havana and tortoise.

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“Colour was always an important element of the architecture in Palm Springs, and in this collection I have used colour, both contrasting and complimentary, to bring out the graphic potential in the clean-lined design of the frames. I also layered temples with contrasting bright colours creating a vibrant energy that is in perfect tune with modernism.” In this collection, the women’s shapes are as Robert describes slightly “man-tailored” with subtle lines and a vintage flavour coming through, and of course occasionally an extremely feminine catseye or butterfly. For men, there is a reminder of Hollywood and the 1950s, with deep shapes such as those worn by Cary Grant, rounded designs with an intellectual air, and the ever popular classically defined aviator. All models sport the Robert Marc trademark hinge, which is instantly distinguishable as a mark of the brand, whilst serving its crucial role to provide ease-of-wear and absolute comfort at the temple. CN

www.robertmarc.com

 

 

Lunettes Lafont, Paris

All In The Family

Lunettes Lafont is a French family affair.  For over 85 years, there have been Lafont family members involved in the company.  Now Philippe Lafont (centre) and his two sons, Thomas (left) and Matthieu (right) are closely connected with all aspects of the company. Twenty-five years ago, Thomas and Matthieu’s elegant mother, Laurence, launched the Lafont children’s collection. Madame Lafont always said: “you cannot make children suffer,” so Lafont frames for kids have always taken little faces and children’s preferences into consideration.  Thomas has inherited the design mantle, and his collections of kid’s frames are created with his mother’s goal firmly in mind.

“Acceptance and comfort is the key issue for kids,” says Marketing Director Matthieu.  “Small faces need specifically adapted frames.  Our answer is to give different styles for different ages, and to offer exclusive colours.  We provide a product that is harmless, and as strong as possible. Quality is really at the top of the list for parents.  Why?  Because kids can play hard, fall, and sometimes sit on their frames!”

Gribouille, a boy's frame by Lafont

 

Lafont offers frames in several categories: 6 months to 4 years; Age 4-7; 7-12 years; and 12-16 years old. Acetate, metal, nylon and spring hinges ensure that the frames avoid breakage as much as possible. Even the names are fun – Gribouille, French for draw or doodle, is a boys frame alive with rockets, planets, and stars. Certain boy’s styles feature a little sports car on the tips of side pieces, and for girls, there is a ladybug – symbol of good luck.

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Gigi, Gabie and Charivari from Lafont

 

The Lafonts are passionate about eyewear, with their commitment to the profession, their design inspiration and emphasis on quality.  The next generation of Lafont’s is growing up with a passion for eyewear. “My four year old daughter needs to wear glasses,” says Matthieu, “and she is so proud and happy to wear them! She selected her own frame.”  The family tradition carries on! Lafont have their own boutiques in Paris, in superb locations on both the Left and Right Banks of La Seine. JG

For further details: www.lafont.com