The Eyewear Designers of the Council of Fashion Designers (edCFDA) is a revered group of creative minds that continually help define the directions of eyewear design with their groundbreaking concepts.
The group got its start when, in October 2014, the Council of Fashion Designers announced a new working group within the council—the Eyewear Designers of the CFDA. Created by 12 CFDA member eyewear designers, the panel’s focus is “to inspire, empower, and promote awareness of eyewear design and the vitality of the optical industry through promotion, education, mentoring, and collaborative initiatives.”
Here, we check in with nine of the edCFDA designers on the future of eyewear design via one specific question:
Where do you see high-end frame design—the physical, tangible design of the frame itself—moving in the next five years?
Co-Founder + Designer, Barton Perreira
“The advancement and penetration of technology in every part of our lives is undeniable. Technology is allowing designers to experiment with materials, silhouettes, etc. It’s an exciting time for me, and I have a great team of people in Japan working on this very thing. As far as aesthetics go, I see the importance of staying true to our brand DNA while adapting to changing times.”
Creative Director, Christian Roth Eyewear
“To forecast where we see high-end and luxury frame design moving in the next five years, it is like scrying! However, one of the most inspiring exhibitions we saw back in 2016 was Manus X Machina at the Met. Technology when combined with great craftsmanship can be superb, it is here already.
“We might want to imagine the next step: artificial intelligence that will challenge the designer’s creativity, the manufacturer’s skills, and, ultimately, the consumer’s desires. And, of course, sustainability will continue to be a responsibility to all of us.
“But it is all about timing—it is not always the one who comes first with an idea who gets the acknowledgment.”
Gai Gherardi + Barbara McReynolds
Co-Founders + Co-Designers, l.a.Eyeworks
“We love what we see on the horizon right now, from advances in low-impact materials to new efficiencies in production methods. It’s interesting to keep in mind that every progression arrives with its own unique set of conditions and constraints. These are the kinds of challenges we relish as designers.
“Searching to understand the integrity of a new material, finding its most honest expression, is a great pleasure.
“Another change we observe is that eyewear design is having more and more presence in fashion and design programs, and we’re always excited to see a new generation of designers finding their voices and bringing their ideas to the table.”
Director, Blake Kuwahara Eyewear
“Everything from barely acceptable quality, appropriation of design, to the ‘disposability’ of fashion has created an equally opposing appreciation for well-crafted, artisan-ally-based, original designs. And, this segment will continue to grow and gain momentum.
“I think the core materials will be the same as they have been for decades, but it will be how we apply new technologies to execute our designs that will make an impact. Personally, I’m not a fan of 3D-printed frames. They’re cold, calculated, and, by their very nature, a replicant. The nuance and ‘touch’ of a handmade frame is very different. I often refer to it as ‘love.’
“You can feel the love in a frame that was made by hand with care, thought, and intent of design compared to one made strictly for commerce. I’m betting my future on ‘love.’”
Designer, Morgenthal Frederics
“I am so excited about the continued growth we have seen with specialty materials and bold silhouettes. At Morgenthal Frederics, we have always focused on one-of-a-kind materials, most notably, buffalo horn, but also slate, wood, and titanium that are both lightweight and comfortable. We see these materials continuing to be a focus and feel that clients continuing to stretch their openness to unique silhouettes and constructions create a more modern marketplace, which allows us to focus on more ornate design. We expect this trend to continue, which makes it a dynamic time as a designer.”
Founder, Oliver Peoples + Co-Founder, Mr. Leight
“I think technology will allow for frames to be designed to be more comfortable—materials enable frames to be lighter and stronger in order to hold their adjustment longer. This is important for luxury eyewear.
“Looking ahead, lightweight and thinner optical frame styles will become more in demand—without having to sacrifice the character of the design. Also, on metal frames, the use of enamel and 3D printing can be applied in a high-quality, subtle, detailed way. Think Hermès bracelets.
“I also think you will see more creativity on frame colors that tend to go with everything. Like variations of black, tortoise, amber, and crystal-type colors. We can be more creative on colors yet still remain classic.
“Creativity in lens colors and treatments/technology will be more exciting and offer more function and versatility.”
Founder + Designer, Selima Optique
“3D-printing technology will be incorporated by many companies to produce frames and lenses. We will be getting faster and more capable, and we will be able to get high performance, light weight, and complexity that is impossible with traditional design and manufacturing processes.
“Yet, handcrafted frames and custom silhouettes will continue to play an important role in the luxury market, like our Lupita frame that was hand beaded in Kenya. Companies will also increasingly start using more sustainable materials. They will adapt to the changing demand, as consumers are becoming more aware of the importance of sustainability.”
Founder + Designer, Leisure Society
“I see eyewear moving into uncharted territories with regards to design, materials, and manufacturing. While classic silhouettes will always find purpose, new materials will be the order of the day.
“That said, acetate is still a much better material than the nylons, carbon fibers, and plastics that are being used in 3D printing. Recent hybrids are getting closer to the highly customizable properties that opticians love about acetate and stainless steel, nickel silver, or titanium.
“Stylistically, I believe women will be moving in a more modern and angular direction a la Grace Jones in the ’80s and ’90s, and men will continue to wear modern versions of vintage classics.”
Stirling Barrett, Krewe
“In the next five years, we’ll be focused on smaller-quantity productions, custom materials, and, as always, producing at the highest quality possible. I see a shift toward custom frames with a personalized fit—timeless frames that are unassuming and evoke a sense of casual luxury. There will be less focus on shifting fashion trends and more on well-designed, higher-quality frames; a high-end yet practical mentality with a Western design aesthetic.”