I first started working on 20/20 Europe in 1999. During those years, I have visited a huge variety of optical fairs – attended 19 Silmo’s as well as optical events in Las Vegas, South Korea, Tokyo, Sweden and Dubai, to highlight just a few. But as well as exciting travels, I have also had an ongoing opportunity to interview designers and innovators at different moments in their careers, and to follow their creative paths or technological achievements, with a closeness that I truly value. Among my very first experiences as a journalist, I remember a phone interview with Paloma Picasso from our Richmond office, where she talked about her dad, her design path and her now iconic eyewear collection, a press launch with Alexander McQueen in his London flagship when he was launching an eyewear collection with acclaimed designer Tord Boontje and a lovely chat at Silmo with the very approachable Anna Sui. I always felt inspired by the diversity of my work each day, much for the people I met along the way, as well as their commitment to their work, their company and – more often than not – their extraordinarily infectious enthusiasm for whatever they were launching or working on.
Factory visits have also been a part of my journey as an optical journalist. I visited the Jura (France) and Cadore (Northern Italy) in my early years with the then international sales director Cecilia Zanasi, and have been back on different occasions, most recently with Matilde, to Belluno, Borgo Prà and the local area where we had a memorable visit to the Museo dell’Occhiale, Pieve di Cadore as well as delightful Italian lunches or espressos with clients. More recently, I’ve been welcomed at Silhouette and neubau in Austria, Gold & Wood in Luxembourg and Blackfin in Italy, and learnt about state-of-the-art eyewear production and different artisan techniques for producing eyewear first hand, as well as actually meeting the expert craftsmen and women who work in this profession. It has been a particular privilege to meet at least two craftsmen working into their 70s, still offering their expertise, and training young people to do the work, as they have done, by hand.
These and all the other opportunities during my career so far I do not take for granted - they have offered me a true insight into the special and historic world of eyewear + optics and all that goes behind the making of a single frame or lens.
While fashions change, consumer desires evolve and technology impacts the production of frames and lenses for the future, the story of eyewear design is always moving ahead, offering the optical retailer – whatever their specialism or particular passion - new optical avenues and innovations with which to run their business and improve the everyday lives of their customers.
Editor in Chief, 20/20 Europe