By way of commenting on some of this issue’s main topics, I’d like to note what I’d originally intended for the American Optical feature story in our September 15 What’s Brand New issue.
My original pre-COVID intent was to travel to Chicago and spend a few days actually working at the State/American Optical (AO) factory literally learning how to craft eyewear under the guiding presence of Marc Franchi. And in a second wave of exploration, I was hoping to study the actual art of creating eyewear via the tutoring of Nico Roseillier. Both Franchi and Roseillier are interviewed in this issue, in the “AO… Let’s Go” feature, outlining their roles in the establishment of AO’s new sunglass collection made in Chicago.
The chance for that hands-on experience working with the materials that make up this world of eyewear product I adore obviously never happened. And I’m no closer to being an eyewear designer in the same way I’m not an auto designer (which was my original goal in life back to when I was about 9 years old!) but with this issue in hand, we get some deep insight into the design and craft of eyewear AND the wide range of materials that goes into the essence of eyewear.
Quite frankly, I’m nuts for this “stuff” that results in the eyewear product. And my fascination totally predates my arrival at 20/20 well over 20 years ago.
Highlight incidences would include the wizard Dave Chute detailing for me the miracle of a Flexon frame by Marchon, Silhouette’s Arnold Schmied personally debuting his family’s Minimal Art collection, l.a.Eyeworks’ Gai Gherardi and Barbara McReynolds taking me on an optical tour of the zyl rainbow at a Vision Expo booth visit and being transfixed by the intricacies and delicacies of eyewear being crafted and refined at the newly opened State Optical factory in Chicago just a few years ago.
I’ve long noted that to my mind’s eyes, eyewear is truly the ultimate accessory affording better vision and incredible style for those ready and willing to acknowledge both the need and the want of acquiring the best in specs. That vision quest is yours to deliver. We can instigate stories and approaches and our take on this glorious quest but you as dispensers of eyewear are the gatekeepers. Open that gate wider than ever. You are the keepers of the keys. Find and then fit those amazing glasses made of an ever-increasing range of wonderful classic and modern materials. Make the magic MaterialEyes.
• James J. Spina