Sama’s new Century City boutique introduces a new concept for eyewear customers
it is anything but typical. Sama Eyewear’s latest shop in Los Angeles’s cool Century City mall creates an environment that is high-tech and high-style yet warm and inviting.
The shop is a feast for the eyes with sleek rounded rotating displays throughout. Circles dominate the design, right down to the circular black lacquer lens bar. And, the pièce de résistance is a floor-to-ceiling video screen that features customized content.
Sheila Vance, Sama’s CEO and designer, partnered with her friend, jewelry designer Loree Rodkin, on the concept. Rodkin designed the space to capture the elements of the Sama brand within the shop, incorporating intricate metalwork, textured leather, and custom wood.
Here, Vance discusses her collaboration with Rodkin and the organic concept behind the shop.
ON THE PARTNERSHIP
I’ve been designing Loree’s eyewear for 14 years—I’m a customer of hers and she is a customer of mine. I’ve never met anyone like her in my lifetime. She’s an expert at reading people and recognizing what they need, what they want to look like, and what their passion is. One of the reasons her jewelry is so popular is that she made diamonds accessible for daytime wear.
Loree had done design for hotels and other spaces, but she had never done retail. This was her first.
“You don’t see posters of models wearing frames. You don’t see eyewear promotions.”
—SHEILA VANCE, Sama Eyewear
ON THE DESIGN
Loree’s idea was that the shop should be like a living room. People should come in and feel comfortable staying there and making decisions.
The color combinations are tone-on-tone, gray, pearl, and black. It is elegant and not overwhelming.
The store is not what the typical eyewear shop looks like. We have a massive video presentation, but it’s all about nature and the season we are in. It creates a mood.
We have a lens bar that is very playful. Customers can sit at the lens bar and decide the colors and combination of lenses they want to use so they can customize their eyewear. We have healthy organic drinks we serve them. It’s like a gallery—very comfortable and relaxing.
ON THE ELEMENTS
One of the most beautiful elements of the store is the window display. There are about 10 circular displays, which rotate so you can see the eyewear at every angle. There is an LED light inside every circle so you see all the different colors of eyewear.
The back wall is gray textured leather from Italy. Everything is leather because we wanted to have a soft feeling. Nothing is harsh. And everything you see is round. “Sama” means there is no beginning and there is no end, which to me is a circle.
ON THE DISPLAY
The eyewear is categorized by the concept and fashion edict. When you come to our store you know exactly which section to go to find what you have in mind. We have a section for men. We have a section for daytime optical, for sunglasses that are for weekend or resort. We have a section for evening looks. It’s a nice journey for the customer. It’s not about tons of eyewear on top of each other.
ABOUT THE COLLECTIONS
All our stores have eyewear that is unique to that location. We have six stores in the Middle East, a Beverly Hills store, and the new one in Century City.
The collections in our stores are different from the collections we present in our wholesale division. We customize to the traffic that’s in these areas.
We also don’t carry only eyewear. About 15% of the store is scarves, bracelets, necklaces, candles, fragrances, and room aroma. The majority of these items are designed by Loree, and we mix it with her eyewear.
Sama at a Glance
Who: Sheila Vance partnering with jewelry designer (and longtime friend) Loree Rodkin
What: Sama’s new high-tech 1,100-square-foot optical shop
Where: Los Angeles’ Westfield Century City
When: November 2017
Why: To redefine the eyewear buying experience
Something Cool: The shop has a massive floor-to-ceiling video screen featuring custom content with fashion, design inspirations, and short films to engage and change the experience.
Something Exciting: “We’ve joined forces with one of the biggest tech companies in the world. Their lab is working to create our new eyewear. It’s tech-y, but not in a Google glasses way. It is fashionable eyewear. Unless you are wearing the frames, you are unaware of the technology. They are re-creating the materials we use as well as incorporating a technology that takes a bit of our iPhones and puts it in our eyewear. The official announcement, I hope, will be before Vision Expo East.”