A worker inspects eyewear sheet

MYKITA – INDIVIDUALITY AND MODERN DESIGN

4SEE FINE CRAFTSMANSHIP – MYKITA: More and more people prefer customized and hand-made goods over mass-marketed products. 4SEE visited this german eyewear manufacturer that is committed to handcraft, high quality, individuality and modern design. Mykita from Berlin combines technical perfection with a solid sense for aesthetics.

Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER
Text DAGMAR SCHRAMM

Mykita produces in Berlin – so everything is close by. “Which is why we can access our resources swiftly and directly and reflect the zeitgeist in our products“, says CEO and Creative Director Moritz Krueger. And the Berliners do so perfectly: Whether it is Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt or Wolfgang Joop – everyone who deems themselves fashion-savvy wears Mykita. All this works without a logo, because Mykita uses a patented flexible joint unique to their glasses.

4SEE Craftsmanship - Mykita, a worker inspect frame sheet
4SEE Fine Craftsmanship – Mykita

The atmosphere inside the Mykita House in Berlin-Kreuzberg is as creative as in an artist’s studio. The combined competence of employees from 28 different nations is put to good use for design and production, all under one roof. “We produce up to 3000 prototypes each year“, Moritz Krueger explains. “During development we always take the past, the future and new technologies into account. When tried and tested methods meet modern techniques, traditional production meets modern materials, innovation evolves from it. “ Mykita’s secret to its modern manufactory is the combination of handicraft and high-tech: “Our designs are always based on technical solutions, which have to be highly aesthetic at the same time.“

4SEE Craftsmanship - Mykita. Shot in Berlin
4SEE Fine Craftsmanship – Mykita

Mykita’s famous first collection, Collection No. 1, consists of delicate stainless steel. Fronts and temples are etched into just 0.5mm thick flat metal during a photochemical procedure. All components are developed in plane and are put into shape by bending and folding, similar to Japanese origami. The Berliners’ newest idea is Mylon – glasses made by laser-sintering polyamide powder, an additive technique akin to 3D-printing. Layer by layer lightweight and break-proof glasses are formed, fit even for sports or skiing.

A worker's hands fine tuning eyewear frame at a Mykita factory in Berlin
At Mykita factory in Berlin

But Mykita looks to expand its horizon. “The Mykita House doesn’t end in Berlin, it invites partners from all industries“, says Krueger. “We develop modern, contemporary products in an interdisciplinary dialogue.“ Mykita looks for collaborations with outside partners for the colouring of their frames and lenses, too. Designer Bernhard Wilhelm inspired the famous gold-mirrored aviator frame; Damir Doma used glasses as a canvas for a mesmerizing play of colours such as blue, violet and brown. For summer, the label came up with matte surfaces and uses mainly Black, Navy, Chocolate Brown and Gold for optical glasses. Sunglasses are more playful: Colour gradients, mirrored lenses and bold colours characterize the collection.

Mykita stands out from the crowd through their unique shapes and colours, and more and more customers are convinced by their quality and designs. “In 2015 we want to open more Mykita stores and in March we will launch our first children collection, Mykita First“, the CEO reveals.

A worker inspecting a piece of eyewear frame sheet, at Mykita factory in Berlin
4SEE Craftsmanship – Mykita

This article originally appeared in the COLOR issue // published in April 2015.

Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER
Text DAGMAR SCHRAMM

More and more people prefer customized and hand-made goods over mass-marketed products. 4SEE visited a manufacturer with commitment to handcraft, high quality, individuality and modern design. Danish label Ørgreen not only produces first-class titanium frames, but also creates the colours for every collection themselves.

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Sahra Lysell’s job is a unique one. The 37 year old is Colour Advisor for the Danish eyewear label Ørgreen. She has developed colours for the brand’s exclusive designs for 14 years now. “At Ørgreen colour is just as important as shape“, she explains. “This way a third dimension develops – colour transports emotion and mood onto a frame.“ Which is why Ørgreen offers 40 to 50 new colours each season, considerably more than any other manufacturer. Sahra Lysell gets most of her inspiration from when she is out and about. “I observe people very closely“, she says. “My gut tells me which colours are the right ones for the right time. It is my goal to create colours that people didn’t know they wanted before.“

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The manufacturing process is elaborate at Ørgreen: Sahra Lysell sends her samples for manufacturing to Japan, where the frames are made and coloured by hand. A sample can be a page from an old schoolbook or a piece of paper – anything to ease the difficulty of translating colour for Ørgreen’s titanium frames. “A colour can contain up to a hundred different substances“, Sahra Lysell explains. “And each and every one has to be skin tolerant, posing a great challenge.“ The teams of both countries work closely together, despite the long distance. Patterns are exchanged back and forth between Japan and Copenhagen until everyone is pleased with the newly created colour. Colours must flatter the face, so Ørgreen tests them on people with different skin tones and nationalities. „You wear your glasses every single day, you express yourself with them. This shows why the right shade is so very important“, the expert explains. “We want our glasses to be absolute favourites. This is why we put so much work, heart and soul into our creations.“ Sahra Lysells describes Ørgreen as an emotional company: “We have supreme quality standards. Time and handcraft are vital parts for the production of our glasses.“ No wonder that Ørgreen prefers to take design and colour into their own hands instead of letting trend scouts take charge.

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For summer Ørgreen recommends colours for gentlemen and gentlewomen: Navy, Mahogany, Ivory and Cognac with a matte, industrial finish. These are combined with shades from the 80s and 90s, for example green and violet. The contrasting colours create complexity. „Only through the combination of two worlds something new, something creative can grow“, says Sahra Lysell. Ørgreen’s success is excellent proof for the colour expert’s work. The brand is sold in more than 40 countries and adored by many fans around the globe.

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Photography JAKE HODGKINSON
Interview KEITH S. WASHINGTON
Eyewear RAY-BAN

Jerry Bouthier is one of the founders of the London-based label Continental Records, and along with his partner, Andrea Gorgerino,produce remixes for artists ranging from Two Door Cinema Club to Jupiter and Ladyhawke. Jerry has also been the producer of several mix compilations for the music-savvy fashion brand Kitsuné, having producing his first Kitsuné compilation “BoomBox” from the underground legendary London club Boombox in 2007. His ties with the fashion industry are influential and he is sought-after as a music producer of runway tracks for fashion shows each season. 4SEE magazine has managed to temporarily ground the globe-trotting Producer and DJ during one of his most recent stints from South Africa to have an in depth Q&A on Jerry’s take on fashion and music and his repertoire as music director for various brands from Peter Jensen to Vivienne Westwood’.

Where was your first DJ gig?
God knows. I kinda fell into it without realizing. I was lucky to turn my passion into some kind of job. There was always a lot of records around at home as my dad’s a big music fan. I soon caught the bug and from 10 onwards I started collecting the vinyl I loved. Back then if you didn’t own the physical record, you couldn’t listen to it, let alone play it to other people. A solid, extensive record collection was a big thing and I started to play at friends and parties. When I go out I love to meet people and mingle but at the same time I’ve always felt that (if no one else’s was to take charge) it was my duty to provide interesting feel-good music – even if there’s no dancing involved. I’ve always been obsessed by finding the right track for the right moment. I guess it all snowballed from that.

Window or aisle seat?
Definitely aisle. When you travel a lot for work you must maximise your time in planes and sleep as much as you can. Essentially to be on point on arrival and offer the best performance.

jerry.bouthier02

How did Continental Records start?
It goes back years when my late brother Tom and I started to produce tracks in Paris in the early days of house and Balearic. I kept the name to honor his memory when I revived the imprint 2 or 3 years ago. Continental was (re)created in order to have an outlet to release the JBAG stuff, my music project with Andrea Gorgerino, but I soon then realized it’d be daft not to use it to help other artists/friends put out their recordings too. Without much strategy the label’s soon developed into a global roster of talented musicians. There’s Reflex from the south of France, Shindu from Belgium, Mannequine from Switzerland, Boys Get Hurt from Japan, Mjolnir and Cyclist from Indonesia and Canada respectively. It’s fascinating that we share such a strong musical bond despite our enormous regional differences. There may not be a Continental sound as such but there’s definitely a common spirit: honesty and musicality.

Your parents think you are…?
…A bit of a weirdo ha-ha! No, seriously I think, although both are quite artistic, It took them a long time to grasp the whole DJ thing. It was so new and different to start with and so far away from French culture. They let me do my thing and I moved to London at 18, which in itself was pretty cool. I’m the eldest of a big family split in two, I suppose I was just another kitty in the litter. But to be honest I wished they’d supported me a bit more spiritually and helped me organize myself and become a bit more business-minded (like some of my friends’ parents did successfully) ‘cuz for a long time I was just a zero, happy to be where the action was but with not a lot of faith in my abilities. So there’s hope for anyone after all [laughs]. What’s more, I’ve developed so many British habits over the years that they often relate to me as “the English one with funny habits!” Just another way for the French to put down their neighbors. You know what it’s like if you don’t do it the French way, then you must be doing it wrong!

jerry.bouthier

How and when did you start working with KITSUNÉ?
“My collaboration started when I put together the BoomBox mix cd for Kitsuné a few years ago. That East London night was pretty wild and unique, definitely one of my life’s peaks… I had been hassling Gildas and his assistants for promos and exclusives since Kitsuné’s first comp ‘Love’, but it didn’t take us long to become music mates, respecting each other’s convictions and tastes. I guess we knew of each other from the early days of house in Paris when there wasn’t much more than a handful of party-faithfuls about, but we never hooked up then as I quickly defected to London.

How did the Highbury Eden hat project for KITSUNÉ project come about?
I’ve always been into all kinds of hats: caps, visors, bobs, army gear, you name it. But when I became music director for Vivienne Westwood (I did about 50 shows for her various labels) it was a bit of a dream come true as I’m a big fan of the punk/new romantic-pirate scenes she was heavily involved in. She gave me one of her legendary Buffalo hats – introduced to the pop world in 1983 in the Malcolm Maclaren video ‘Buffalo Gals’ – and I started wearing it. At first I wasn’t convinced that hat was gonna work for me, but it felt funny, kinda punky in its own way and I soon fully embraced it, which helped me create a kinda rockin’ Mickey Mouse character, a kind of stage character I could drop once offstage so I could take it all with a pinch of salt. I ended up with a dozen of them in all colors and pretty much wore one at every single of my gigs for 5 or 6 years. It became a bit of a signature although I was by no means the first or the only one wearing them. A few London friends have some and wear them, they’re quite popular with the ever-so fashion-conscious Japanese too. That was until Pharrell Williams started to wear a Buffalo hat in the video of ‘Happy’ (the most downloaded track ever in the UK) and that look was killed almost overnight for me. From then on I couldn’t go anywhere without people giving me grief. So I took the bull by the horn and asked old BoomBox buddies Bernstock & Spiers to work on an original design with me which I could claim paternity for. When Kitsuné boss Gildas heard about the collab, he suggested they produce a very limited quantity to be sold in the Kitsuné stores. Perfect timing with my new mix CD ‘Kitsuné Trip Mode’ that just came out in September. The hat I designed is called the Highbury Eden since I’ve just moved to Highbury and it uses the shape made famous by ’30s British Prime Minister Anthony Eden. We’ve reworked it to create that over–sized feel which is so much fun with the Buffalo hats.

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Favorite glasses?
I’m not a huge fan of sunglasses to tell you the truth. Too many idiots walking around as if they were film stars. Certainly would never wear a pair in a club or when there’s no sunshine. Now, although coming from a Mediterranean family, I’ve become a proper Brit and can’t stand staying in the sun more than 5 minutes in which case sunglasses become more essential. I find with sunglasses, less is more. I either wear Ray Ban’s Aviator or Wayfarer. The more discreet the better, a bit like cars.

Favorite 3 albums in high school?
“Low Life” by New Order
“Cupid & Psyche 85” by Scritti Politti
“From Memphis to Langley Park” by Prefab Sprout

Favorite Airport?
Singapore’s is one of the biggest, most advanced and practical airports I’ve ever been through! But I have a soft spot for Narita in Tokyo. Narita Airport has tiny rooms you can rent cheaply for as short as 30 minutes so you can wash and sleep for a bit. And it’s the most used gateway to Tokyo, possibly the most exciting city in the world. I could go live in Tokyo tomorrow if I had the chance. Such a fabulous culture, mixing tradition and futurism with style and enormous subtlety, precision and kindness: mind-blowing.

Any interest to produce more fashion show runway tracks with other designers?
I’ve been so busy running my label Continental as well as writing and producing with JBAG that I’ve done less fashion shows lately compared to a few years ago when I was working for Vivienne Westwood and could produce up to 8 soundtracks during London Fashion Week. I’ve got long–running relationships with Peter Jensen (10 years!), Korea’s Songzio, London’s latest enfants terribles Sibling, and over the years I’ve developed fruitful collaborations with the likes of Matthew Williamson, Roksanda Ilincic, Kokon To Zai, Michael van der Ham, Jonathan Saunders, Osman, B Store, Garza Lobos in Buenos Aires and many others, it comes and go all the time. What I’m really happy with is that all these experiences have led me to heavily reconsider my comfort zone and stretch my boundaries as a dj, it certainly enabled me to explore combinations and concepts further, take more risks, and think outside the box, which is often the goal in fashion. I’d love to work with the big brands such as Prada, Channel etc, take them into the 21st century.

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Photography: BERT SPANGEMACHER
Interview: ANN FORD
Glasses: MAKELLOS ME 9004

Ansgar Schmidt was born in Borken, Germany in 1971. He acquired a diploma in architecture in Cologne and he has been running a successful design shop, “s1 Architecture “ in Berlin, for the past 15 years together with his partner Henning Ziepke. His firm’s focus is on retail development and their works include the “14 oz.” stores in Berlin. They have won the Trade Association Germany’s “Store of the Year” HDE Award three times. 4SEE asked Ansgar about what makes good eyewear frames and store designs and his view on trends.

Let’s get started with an obvious question. What do you prefer, glasses or contact lenses?

Glasses.

Why?

With glasses you can shape your face. Glasses used to be considered like medicine, but nowadays they are more like a fashion statement to express own personality. Some people prefer wearing contact lenses because they are convenient, but there should be one perfect pair of glasses for each face, assuming they have a good consulting service. In the past few years, eyewear has become more and more important in the fashion world. For example, there is a new eyewear concept store in Berlin that offers only vintage eyewear. When buying furniture, it is important to find out the year it was made, and its origin and designer. Some people like to own an original piece. The same thing applies to glasses.

What do you think makes good eyewear design?

That is a difficult question! There is no such thing as one good eyewear design. There is only a good design that fits best to each individual. But whether glasses are a perfect match depends on what the market offers. That’s why it is important for customers to find a store where she or he can actually find something and try, or just browse.

Do customers still shop in store?

Competition with online stores is constantly growing, but the market protects itself. Glasses must first be tried on your own face. Buying glasses is still something very personal. Again, it is also a matter of what the market offers. If selections are reasonable and have enough appeal to customers, they will come into a store and come back again.

How should a store create an inviting and customer friendly atmosphere?

Clients and their well-being must come at the forefront – corresponding to their respectable environment, or it has to be hip. Optical stores used to look like doctors’ office, so it is relatively easy to find something that makes customers feel good.

But in what setting a client could feel pleasant and comfortable?
There are different types of people. Some feel comfortable in an industrial loft, while others prefer a cozy, warm atmosphere. It depends on the products I present and also on customers I’d like to reach – they could be anyone from young to old people or could be very specific and targeted customers.

Does it make any difference between big and small cities?

Small towns like Bocholt or Münster, or rural areas in Bavaria – they would require three completely different approaches. What is important is to analyze each optical store independently, who their customers are and what they are selling. I don’t want to apply a one-size fit all type of approach. People from rural communities might need more consulting while customers in Berlin have already a clear vision of what they want. In other words, opticians have to adjust a design concept depending on what customers want.

That’s why each optician requires different expertise.

Exactly. Some clients want to know more about products. Some of them are also interested in finding out the heritage of specific frames, who the designers are, or whose design they were influenced by. Or some clients want to buy iconic styles. Confident consumers have a totally different approach to fashion. These types of customers are found in rural areas as well as in cities.

And to what degree can architecture support what customers want?

We can offer optical storeowners a platform that helps them sell their spectacles.

How does that platform look like?

It has to correspond to that person. There is no use in designing a hip store if a storeowner doesn’t feel comfortable in it. For us the priority is to build a good surrounding for him or her in which they can present themselves well, but also show them new possibilities which might not have been clear before.

But how do you create such conditions?

First, our work is always to listen. Then we develop proposals reflecting the wishes of our client, the storeowner. The choice of floor, color and material manifests itself from there.

And that’s how a good store design emerges?

Yes, depending on the owner, their clientele and location. In some occasions, it could be useful to showcase certain glasses at the storefront. In back there could be space for fitting – preferably in a pleasant atmosphere. Knowledge about the design and the heritage of spectacles is also part of it. In another location I might need a straightforward design that addresses confident and informed consumers. But most importantly, a blueprint for stores does not exist. The focal point is always service.

According to you, what is trend?

A long-term trend: the store needs its own personality. Customers should feel right when they enter the store. Another trend is the usage of materials; the authenticity and the feel of the materials. This is totally the in thing right now: conscious usage of material and style, tradition in craftsmanship. And if it’s vintage, it has to be real, it can’t be fake vintage.

How about 10 years from now? Do you think retail stores will continue to exist?

I am firmly convinced that they will, because by now online platforms are already looking for physical stores to sell their products. This way dotcom companies can go local. In the long run there is going to be a mix of both. If I have to wear my glasses on a daily bases – for work and pleasure, then I need more than just a cheap pair of glasses I can find on the Internet. So then I need to go into a store and because of this, the concept of partnership has a future.

Photography Justin Carter
Interview Atsushi
Creative Director Keith S. Washington
All eyewear by Max Pittion

Famed for his ongoing monthly mixes “Magic Tape” consisting of under the radar, unreleased dance tunes, not to mention his former unit Aeroplane, Stephen Fasano aka “The Magician” based in Brussels continues evolving his musical influence through his own music label “Potion,” started in 2014. The Magician just released a brand new single “Shy” featuring Brayton Bowman on May 2nd from Potion and we caught him backstage right before his gig for the Kitsuné Club Night Parisian Tour in Tokyo.

 

Musical background – Instruments or DJing?

DJing background. Long time ago. Late 80’s — at the beginning of House music I guess. My uncle was a DJ, nothing commercial but a collector of obscure disco records. He gave me his turntables and a mixer, and a collection of obscure disco records.

You got lucky. 

Yeah in a way…, but I hated so many of those records! The late 70’s were, as they say, “the end of Disco” times and we were starving for Acid House coming from the US. Disco records don’t have BPM synchronized so that was the kind of time I practiced the beat match technique, mixing those with new House music. Then, after that, I slowly got into Techno, Drum ’n’ bass, Trip Hop — I have a big collection of DJ Krush from Mo Wax records, DJ Food, Ninja Tunes and those kinds of things. Those were the times I used to travel to the UK a lot and go record-digging.

From Brussels? 

Yes, I went to the UK once a month. Now it’s only 2 hours on a train but it was 4 hours on a boat to cross the canal and another 2 hours on the road back then, but that is nothing when you are a teenager — the absolute freedom! 

And went into production in those ages?

Yes, as I slowly started getting myself a sampling machine like AKAI or Roland, or the drum machines like TB303, I got those for around 100 bucks or something. Now it costs 3,000 US dollars or more and you know how crazy it is. 

The Magician, Stephen Fasane, Kitsune Tokyo. DJ, Magici Tape, SoundCloud , Potion label, the end of disco

Do you still use those set ups?

No, I rarely use them as those are equipped in the software nowadays. For working on demos, I just get into my computer and for the final production we bring vocals and instruments at the studio for live recording, which I really enjoy.

How did you get to know Kitsuné?

I was forming Aeroplane at that time around in 2008, we got approached by Kitsuné for a remix, and that was the first time I met Gildas (one of Kitsuneé’s founders). Then they booked us for tons of parties in London and Paris. After that, we signed for a single “I Don’t Know What You Do.”

How do you balance out Production and DJing? 

I would say 50/50 and I like it that way. I am inspired by the music that I play, the music that is around me if you know what I mean. I am rather a DJ in origin than a producer.  My music can evolve through playing and it’s a bit like a fashion. So for example when compared with 5 years ago I would say I was more Disco. Not in the melody line, but the base line or the compression of the sound, my sound is more Housey now. BPM between 120-122 is the best tempo ever, not too fast yet groovy. 

Memorable gigs?

Actually, Ageha in 2012, Japan was amazing. The speakers… the sound was totally amazing. 

Large audience or handful of people?

I actually do both and I played for only 200 yesterday in Seoul, played in front of an only 150-person audience the other day in Hong Kong and, to be honest, I like it much better than big festivals. You see the faces and the groove is more intense.

You are a vinyl collector but which format do you use when DJing?

I don’t play vinyl except at home and took a while to get used to it, but I use USB memory sticks. I still have 10,000 or more records at home — maybe its time to pull them out again and get inspired.

So, how come “The Magician”?

Well, it was my wife who named it. When I split from Aeroplane in 2010, my wife (then girlfriend) said at the time, “Now we have to think of a new name…, lets say “The Magician.” And I didn’t like it at all! (laughs). She says I have the “Magical” powers, but it sounds a bit arrogant you know. But slowly, having her designing these jackets, I understood the meaning of it that aligns with my concept to entertain the audience. And of course the branding side of it too. And after all, I own 10 other jackets of this kind.

Why are you wearing that one today?

This is the one I am wearing this year and will be recognized with. The material is actually a cellophane. Last year it was more baggy style, but not like in the MC Hammer style though, Moroccan-Jewish style from the 1920s with the 3 buttons jackets and all. So for next year, it should be different. To me, DJing is entertainment and the core is to entertain the audience. And for that reason, I like to be dressed. 

The Magician, Stephen Fasane, Kitsune Tokyo. DJ, Magici Tape, SoundCloud ,

Any ritual before gigs?

Very simple. Text my wife that I am starting. And have one shot of vodka or two. 

It seems like there is a very strong bond there. Any kids? 

I have one little one, she is two and a half years old now. Now we are starting to have a lot of interactions and it is great fun.

Why are you based in Brussels?

Because I did not have the balls to move out (laughs). Well, it was just not the right time to move, my studio is in London and the business is there. And its only 2 hours on train. 

If you were to pick one city to move to?

Business-wise it would be London, but if I pick the best, I would say LA. The weather, and the food!

Favorite food?

I would say Italian and Japanese. And you can find both good ones in LA (laughs).

So, half and hour to go live, what are you playing today for a 2am slot?

I am selecting more straight House music, more energy than the last visit in 2012. A lot of people expect music that they know, but I will be playing things that are really new. Because I expect people to get surprised.

The Magician is the alias of talented DJ/Producer, Stephen Fasano. 

The Magician on Soundcloud + Homepage

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