Author: Clodagh Norton

Feature Story
December 17, 2018

Japanese designer Masahiro Maruyama

Unfinished art:
a new Twist

While classical frame designs are symmetrical and “beautifully completed”, Japanese designer Masahiro Maruyama’s distinctive asymmetric frames are “unfinished”, creating evocative, eccentric designs, like no others…

Q: When did you first start your career in eyewear and how has it become your passion?

A: My career in eyewear started in 1996 in Japan. I worked in the design department of a Japanese glasses company.
I’ve worked on some famous international brands at that company. I then started my own brand MASAHIROMARUYAMA in 2011. To turn my name into “a code”, I intentionally removed the space between the first and last name.
I have been wearing glasses since I was a teenager, but I was not satisfied with the shape on my face. And I couldn’t see much choice around me. There was no fashionable eyewear store in my neighbourhood, and there were no online stores at the time.
I could only find classic designs. So I carved my glasses by myself to make the shape better. This is my great passion with eyewear, to make a pair of glasses I want to wear myself.
Today I’m passionate about creating eyewear with a unique, human touch. Mass produced glasses are designed for a certain high demand, and the designs tend to be a cliché. For my own brand, I wanted to focus on developing something different.

Q: Your frame concepts have a very unique flavour, both compared to other trends in the industry and in terms of the concepts themselves. Please explain how the work is evolving?

A: I give priority to our brand concept, unfinished art. Like having a piece of art, we’d like our customers to have our frames not just for daily use or as a fashion statement, but also for their own sake.
Asymmetry is an essential characteristic of our design. All Masahiromaruyama frames have asymmetrical shapes, but the difference is not always apparent. I prefer modest but unique asymmetry which you cannot necessarily notice when you are standing two metres away from the glasses. I work hard on these two concepts and it helps me to make alternative eyewear designs.

“I prefer modest but unique asymmetry which you cannot necessarily notice when you are standing two metres away…”

Q: The “eccentric” features of the frames such as the twists and broken effects are an extraordinary accomplishment in terms of production. Has this been a difficult process for you to manage and further develop?

A: My projects wouldn’t be possible without the great work of well-skilled craftsmen in Sabae city in Japan.
It took years to meet the artisans who have the most sophisticated traditional spectacle-making skills.
To communicate to them my focus in a design and to make products of good quality has required much discussion.
Sometimes the design is challenging, but they spend a lot of time and effort on the techniques used to produce our frames.
All our designs are made by hand so the quantity is limited, but it enables us to make ‘tricky’ shapes with great precision.

\\ In his latest collection Twist, each of the twisted metal parts is made by hand.

Q: What are your favourite moments in developing a collection concept?

A: There are several. One of them is the moment when I get the first sample of a new model. It’s not easy to bring a design into production. After spending weeks making adjustments, I finally receive the first prototype. Every time I’m impressed with the amazing work the craftsmen can achieve.
After this, we start to make further adjustments to refine the design. It takes more than half a year to complete a final product. This is another of my favourite moments, when I hear a compliment from buyers in person at the exhibitions.
The happiness and surprise on their face is an exquisite moment! That feedback always motivates me for my next project.

Q: Do you always have the same reaction to your collections in different parts of the world?

A: The reaction to my work is the same wherever I am. Everyone enjoys the uniqueness in our designs.
We see different reactions to the colours, depending on where we are. For example, the French tend to prefer gold frames while black frames are very popular in Japan.

Q: What can we expect in 2019?

A: Look forward to seeing a new inspiration! Almost every generation has access to the Internet, and you can find anything online. There are millions of designs and brands, and information is updated every day. To be found in this flood of information, I’d like to keep making innovations with originality.

Q: What are your next fairs in Europe?

A: Mido 2019.

\\ Model MM-0031 No.2 ‘erase’

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