Author: Clodagh Norton

Feature Story
October 25, 2018

Attitudes and inspiration

The world of art and architecture continue to influence eyewear design, branding and advertising campaigns. This year, that influence has had a particular resonance for independent eyewear brands, whose design work is imbued with a new creative sensibility in this regard… 20/20 Europe discovered some of the most exciting projects with a link to the arts.


Etnia’s ANARTIST series launched in Fall/Winter 2017. Art is described as “the driving force behind this campaign which features portraits based on historic paintings. “We wanted the campaign to reflect the Anartist attitude that characterizes us, an attitude that defies norms and stereotypes and is anarchic and artistic at one and the same time. Each image is full of contrasts and dual interpretations.”

FINE ART influences

From unique eyewear designs inspired by an art form to whole collections referencing architectural compositions, the eyewear world is exploring a bold creative language, appealing to many tastes. 20/20 Europe researched some of the new and innovative directions that express this creative journey via the arts.

Art forms and eyewear continue to converge, and more so than perhaps has been the case in the past. In 2018 the inspiration is multifaceted, with architecture, Renaissance painting, POP art, graffiti, glassmaking and many other movements in the creative arts taking a role in shaping the direction of individual designs or complete collections.

Asked to cite an example of one such project, the British designer Claire Goldsmith explains an elaborate one-off design project she worked on with Fromental, the makers of handmade wallpaper. “This was actually a secret project for Lady Gaga, designed for one of her album covers,” explains Claire, who runs Oliver Goldsmith Sunglasses. “They took our frame SLITS and covered them in hand-painted silk. They are incredibly beautiful.”

Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses project with the British luxury wallpaper designers FROMENTAL. SLITS is a classic Oliver Goldsmith sunglass design

At Christian Roth, inspiration is also carefully thought-through, even for a single frame design where a special pattern might be required.
“One day the sun was shimmering on one of our Murano paper weights while researching new acetate colours in our design studio,” recalls Christian Roth, when asked to explain the inspiration for a Limited Edition sunglass called Murano, with an impressive multi-colored finish. “With an acetate supplier in the Cadore we discussed replicating Murano glass with their technicians. They were very enthusiastic because of the challenge and also due to the geographic proximity of Murano.”

Multiple layers of thin acetate with the same pattern were laminated on top of each other in an asymmetric way. The result was an exceptional 3D effect with depth and transparency in the light. Inspiration comes from so many paths, this is an example!”

Model Murano (CRS-00052 Limited Edition) by Christian Roth -  inspired by the patterns of Murano glass

Interconnecting disciplines: eyewear + architecture

In 2018, independent label VAVA launched a collection wih Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza Vieira. The line was presented at the 16th edition of the International Architecture Exhibition in the ex-Santa Maria del Soccorso Church in Venice, Italy. “There is a strong interplay between the design elements involved in architecture and VAVA designs,” says founder, Pedro Da Silva. “Eyewear being a rigid object needs to fit a face perfectly, ultimately looking at becoming a mechanical part of the body.
The collaboration with Álvaro Siza Vieira, a pivotal name in contemporary architecture, is the result of a link between VAVA and SIZA’s structures. His works have always been a great source of inspiration for VAVA. Renowned worldwide, Siza Vieira has designed many iconic buildings over the last half century.”

The VAVA collection designed by Àlvaro Siza Vieira will be available from the second week of October.

In a similar vein, the Italian label Pugnale has presented an exclusive capsule created with New York artist/architect Hani Rashid. Three architectural designs were launched, two sunglasses and one optical, with just 150 pieces in total, inspired by Audrey Tritto, the luxury influencer and Rashid’s ‘muse’. The unique designs are fitted with Zeiss lenses and presented in a unique packaging designed by Rashid; inspired by a very particular attitude to form making and architecture, the geometric and irregular facets give shape to an art form with spatial and futuristic overtones.

\\ Audrey by Hani Rashid for Pugnale – models Arilla and Fiano

The bigger picture: an arts focus, across the industry

It’s not only a handful of creative independent designers who are paying attention to artistic stories and their potential influences. Brands like SUPER, CHARLIE Max, and Massada are strongly influenced by the art world both in their brand identity per se or in individual collections or limited editions. While some designers and brands like l.a. eyeworks, Vanni and, more recently, Kirk and Kirk, have shown support for artists through special editions, competitions or project collaborations.
Kirk & Kirk have collaborated with Ray Richardson in a limited edition lens cloth printed with an original work by the artist. Richardson is a visionary artist from South East London, a city that is not only his home but represents the foundation for his award-winning work.

For their packaging concept, Charlie Max Milano are working with the young artist Simone Fugazzotto from Milan, a painter who has an international reputation and has become known particularly for the monkeys that appear regularly in his works. “ Our idea was to involve the artist in the creation of our new packaging and to therefore bring to our customer something really unique and collectible created by the artist.”

Kirk and Kirk x Ray Richardson collaborative lens cloth

Packaging by Charlie Max, created in a collaboration with Simone Fugazzotto. “Through the monkey metaphor, not only does Simone express his own art….he also makes us reflect on the ludicrous and sometimes paradoxical behaviour of humans….”

SUPER: Direct collaboration with Warhol Foundation 

Ongoing and much hyped worldwide is the Andy Warhol focus at Italian label SUPER, who have a formal collaboration with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts “to reproduce and reinterpret ideas by the artist in their collections”.
The latest edition includes fresh and unexpected interpretations of SUPER’s Drew and Drew Mama silhouettes, designed by referencing flowers, one of Warhol’s best-known abstract pop artworks from the 1960s, as well as his whimsical drawing of floral sunglasses featured in a fashion magazine from early on in his career as a successful commercial illustrator during the 1950s.  The Super / Warhol collaboration seeks to capture Warhol’s work and legacy by drawing inspiration directly from his rich archives: the Drew Mama offers a playful and colourful interpretation of the iconic flowers series through a sophisticated printed technique. The Drew features a sculptural representation of Warhol’s illustration characterized by pink tones and a feminine design.

SUPER / Andy Warhol: Flowers Series – the latest collaborative edition in a project
with Andy Warhol Foundation

An interactive installation: Belgian label KOMONO @DGTL

The festival and music world have also begun to attract eyewear brands with a relationship to the cultural and artistic roots of their birthplace or surroundings. KOMONO took part in DGTL in a collaboration with Debusschere for its 2018 Festival Tour. Present at eight major European festivals (We Love Green in Paris, Splash in Berlin, Dour in Belgium, Best Kept Secret in the Netherlands, DGTL in Barcelona, Amcat in the Netherlands, Pukkelpop in Belgium, End of the Road in the United Kingdom) festivalgoers were confronted with more than music and people watching thanks to KOMONO X Pierre Debusschere’s interactive installation. In this art work, the physical and virtual world blended together, as people were projected into a music video directed by Debusschere, which they could later share on social media. The music video showcases an array of different music genres and dance styles to create a unique interaction between spectator and artist. 
To celebrate the installation project, KOMONO developed a limited-edition capsule collection, which includes a tote bag, t-shirt and eyewear pouch.

KOMONO x Pierre Debusschere interactive installation: a collaboration for the brand’s 2018 festival tour

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