I’m an Industrial Designer of more than 20 years, but I’m surprised by how much is assumed and how little known about our profession. It contributes vastly to culture and business, yet resembles an international secret society. Behind closed doors designers create for a common goal, to make life pleasurable through The Built Environment.
I’ve designed in nearly every field, using nearly every manufacturing process – from 3D metal printing, jewellery design, to mining, cars, toys, medical, guns, bottles, guitars and even buildings… However, I find eyewear the most rewarding. Apart from achieving the prefect balance of the pragmatic and emotive side of Industrial Design, the selling of the eyewear, as a service, completes the product.
So, how did industrial design come about and why is it so effective in making brands and in the case of optometry, practices, so successful?
Historically, Industrial Design emerged from the early arts and crafts movement. During the Industrial Revolution in the UK, Wedgwood recruited crafters to design consumer products to attract an emerging middle class. It was a tacit skill, which set Wedgwood apart from other rudimentary products. Fast forward to the mid 1900s and Industrial Design is taught at universities and has become an intrinsic part of every company. The value add to the buying proposition was realised and the point of difference in the market created an insatiable consumer appetite.
Industrial Design defines social evolution, chronologically stamping progress throughout civilisation
In this way, Industrial Design defines social evolution, chronologically stamping progress throughout civilisation. For each social revolution – or sudden change in the structure and nature of society – another piece of built environment was needed to positively navigate space and time.
Think of the early hand tools made from flint stone, to the fine crafted knives of Japan. Necessity initially drove the idea and then cultural practices refined it through Industrial Design thinking. Today we have beautiful knives for oysters, hunting, slicing bread and spreading butter, each crafted to fit into
a social occasion using the materials and processes available.
In a modern global market the Industrial Designer is equipped to predict social trends before they happen. It’s not a case of survival or necessity anymore; it’s a case of knowing what will happen tomorrow! The iPhone, the Walkman, the Tesla are all iconic examples of this and at the centre of it all are Industrial Designers working symbiotically with their peers.
Multiplying the Impact
Whatever the brand, the impact of ‘good design’ multiplies as it resonates through a company and into each consumer’s life.
As consumer demographics become increasingly sophisticated, buying instincts are changing and the importance of balancing an advertising strategy with a well designed product is important, Apple excel in this field, but it starts with Good Design. This is the secret to being able to charge accordingly and grow a business. This is what differentiates Apple from other phone brands and what makes a product price-based purchase, into a service transaction based on the customer’s requirements.
This concept translates into an optical practice, taking the objective script, paired with a subjective frame packaged by front of house. Get that right and you’ll have customers for life, complemented by peers and family. The problem I find, is many customers are unaware of the amazing frame designs available. Rather than picking a generic frame shape and colour – the customer would be better suited with a frame reflecting their personality; a frame designed by an Industrial Designer.
The UK Design Council supports this view, broadly speaking, by objectively rating the top 500 UK companies and their performance in the stock market. Their analysis is extensive and verifiable, however what’s not widely known is that ‘good design’ features in all the companies that consistently out perform traditional business models.
Embrace good industrial design processes and the rest will follow.
The Rewards of Industrial Design
I communicate via Industrial Design. It’s a long journey that is rewarded with a thrill, involving many people along the way.
Where most see a problem, I see a solution. Where others become complacent for immediate satisfaction, I constantly research for a better tomorrow. This is important because, with instant satisfaction at our finger tips via an iPhone, it’s easier than ever to distract and promote the mundane simple products via mass-saturation, right down to the gender, age, location and time of day.
So, I search to keep Industrial Design details alive through developing long lasting relationships, to keep the core principles pure, free from short cuts, which would otherwise reduce a design and development budget. When I design, I design to disrupt. I prefer to design for the ‘first seekers’ – those who not only search, but understand the design details of a new contemporary; a design language to fit an evolving societal narrative.
I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where a sketch I scribble at a café in the morning, I can transform into a fully detailed 3D CAD drawing, ready for production by the afternoon. That’s a thrill, no committee sign-off, just 110 per cent faith in your design, for the sake of the family, staff and the bank account.
The biggest reward is when I’m told one of my designs has been watered down and marketed as something new, for someone else; that’s the ultimate form of flattery. That’s when the seekers come looking for something new again, it’s an incredibly hard journey to travel, watching someone else take the accolades for copied work. But in the end, those deep relationships shine through and wait until a new design language is ready.
Australian Eyewear Designers
Founded in 2003 out of a fanatical love of old-school frames, AM Eyewear is now stocked in over 300 boutiques across more than 30 countries.
Eyewear is entirely handmade, from sketch-pad and pencil to carving, polishing and packaging. Pictured is Kimba, made from Japanese titanium, Italian cured acetate and fitted with Carl ZEISS sun lenses… he perfect feminine frames for summer.
Carter Bond Eyewear is owned and designed by Jonathan Hennessy Sceats. Inspired by modern urban Australian architecture, the collection features wood finish acetate and metal combinations. Pictured is Carter Bond 9212.
Contact: Jono Hennessy (AUS) 02 9979 2288
First impressions count! Design icon Paul Taylor creates every frame with a specific person in mind, whether it’s someone he’s met in passing or a long life friend.
Meet Flora – a fabulous happy 70s inspired frame with a flowery look… and the head turner in Paul’s new release.
Contact: Paul Taylor (AUS) 0458 777 125
The 2018 Jono Limited Edition collection is a celebration of Australian colour and style. Frames are designed in Australia by Jonathan Hennessy Sceats to reflect our culture and heritage. Pictured is Jono Limited Edition 8421.
Contact: Jono Hennessy (AUS) 02 9979 2288
Colin Redmond designs his frames from the small inner city Melbourne suburb of Albert Park and has them made in France, Japan and Hong Kong. Pictured is Rita, a dramatically swept-up cats eye with a tapered rim to enhance an otherwise classic shape. The dynamic design details and profile of the frame means it looks different from every angle.
Contact: Niloca (AUS) 03 9077 5151
Sceats Australia frames are designed by Australians, for Australians in Australia. Designs are influenced by the latest European fashion directions and adapted to perfectly fit with the local market and Australian lifestyle.
Contact: VMD Australia (AUS) 07 5594 9845 or (NZ) 0800 805 369
Sunday Somewhere was established by Dave Allison and now distributes to over 1,000 stores in 30 countries. The company was acquired by Brando Eyewear late last year, enabling further expansion. Pictured is Jar Jar, a refined semi-rimless metal cat-eye shape that’s perfect as a casual day-to-day frame or when dressed-up.
Contact: Charis Blizzard (AUS) 0408 154 159
Mars Fashion Air
Much of the Mars Fashion Air collection is designed by Bonastar’s in-house team in Sydney’s inner city, and inspired by modern lifestyle and fashion. All are made from super lightweight materials such as thin acetate, stainless steel, Ultem, or a combination of different materials.
Contact: Bonastar (AUS) 02 9310 1688
German born Fritz is a wooden boat builder by trade. Over the years, he’s worked on yachts, and he’s designed and made a great number of objects from furniture to kite-boards. Understandably, Fritz uses traditional methods from wooden yacht building to create Fritz Frames eyewear. His small team thrives on creating everything in-house from its wood-composite material to its unique cases. Truly local, bespoke, luxury eyewear.
Contact: Fritz Frames (AUS) 0448 799 873
Peter Coombs Design
Adelaide based Peter Coombs has developed his craft as a jeweller and master silversmith over three decades. All pieces are limited and rare, if not one-off designs, and many have been the result of private commissions over the years.
The 4 O’clock collection refers to a time of day when we feel it’s time to celebrate our achievements with a wee drink. Exquisitely made from Titanium and Argentium silver.
Contact: Peter Coombs Design (AUS) 08 8365 5640
Australian owned and operated, Mako has been producing polarised sunglasses and optical frames for over 25 years.
The Mako optical range has both a men’s and women’s component – with the men’s optical collection focusing on titanium and memory metal at an affordable wholesale price.
Contact: Mondottica (AUS) 02 8436 6666
Per Anderson, founder of Queensland based Weye, designs and handcrafts frames to order.
For the modern minimalist, Weye introduces ‘zero point five on live’, a new neutral hue. This universal colour is created with sleek polished titanium available in original, trivium and geometric Weye styles.
Weye is a member of Australian Made.
Contact: Weye (AUS) 07 4032 4141