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Royal College of Art's Designs on Eyewear

Royal College of Art’s designs on eyewear

April 2011

Royal College of Art fashionistas brought a fresh eye to design at Optrafair 2011, with MA students at the elite internationally-respected centre of style offering their view of eyewear for 2012.

The inspired creations from the international pool of talent who let their imaginations run free has led to a first for Optrafair – prototypes which have been produced by one of the few remaining UK frame manufacturers, Premiere Optical Services.

Briefed on the construction of spectacles, materials and commercial factors, the fashion department students were invited to submit their designs in The FMO-sponsored initiative.  More than twenty students created designs – some after visiting the production facilities to see the technical possibilities of frame manufacture.

“The choice of designs was tremendous.  I have been in the frame business for all of my professional life but never seen some of the ideas that the students brought to the table.  We have been delighted by the response of the students as they are truly inspired by the concept of designing eyewear,” said Malcolm Polley, FMO Chief Executive.

Silks, textured weaves, boiled wool, rice, twisted wire-work, even animal jaw bones, were incorporated into the designs, but The FMO judges and James Berryman, whose company, Premiere Optical has made the creations, looked for commercial realism –

First prize winner is Claire Zeng, 21, who already has a BA in Fashion Design from the University of Creative Arts in Epsom.   Inspiration for her eyewear designs came through a visit to London’s Gagosian Gallery to see an exhibition of light –

“The architecture and colours of the Arizona dessert were the inspiration for my designs and I had a clear idea of the materials composition with white resin or marble plastic with wood.  The six designs that I created are architecturally-inspired with some geometry and modernity bringing crisp lines, but with softness and femininity.  Also, I wanted to create some playfulness with cutaway lenses.

“It is great to have won this award as I worked very hard and was very serious about the design: I really pushed myself knowing the design could become a reality.”

Second Prize, awarded to Alei Verspoor, 25, originally from Utrecht, who has previously studied menswear fashion design in Arnhem, found inspiration from an unusual source –

“I looked at how port holes are attached to space shuttles and aircraft: they are always joined with large pins and I found that very interesting.  Having visited the frame factory I found out what could be done with acetates and it seemed the perfect material.  I have combined aluminium with tortoise acetate, merging the futuristic with wearability.”

For third place winner, Daniel Pollitt, 25, comments during his childhood from family members who found glasses to be uncomfortable were a major consideration for his designs –

“A lot of my family seemed to complain about uncomfortable bridges, and so this was my starting point.  I looked to see how I could balance this out and worked around this point. I always wanted to create a sleek look and this has been achieved with stainless steel.”

Daniel, who has a degree in Fashion Design from Manchester Met, created a unisex collection of primarily sunglass styles, with some 80s inspiration.

“It is pretty amazing to win, as I had never looked at eyewear before from a design concept, but it was interesting and I really enjoyed the project,” he added.

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