The ultimate shopping guide—our editorial team curated this year’s exquisite optical glasses and sunglasses in terms of color, design details, and materials. From distinct styles to classical shapes with a contemporary twist, here are our favorite frames of this year.

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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.

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We are delighted to announce the launch of 4SEE’s premium issue at the SILMO fair in Paris from September 26th to 29th, where optics professionals get together. Our inaugural issue is handed out to a visitor by SILMO staff and will be shipped out throughout Germany at the beginning of October.

silmo

Photography: BERT SPANGEMACHER
Text: ANN FORD 
Model: Cooper
Titel: FUNKroyal SHU € 298

At first glance, these frames seem to be rather simple and plain, but when taking a closer look, we must applaud Funk for their sense of understated cool. Funk’s frames are made out of surgical steel so they are light and durable for every day use. And Funk can be quite playful. Their new models shown here are artfully designed and they come with a delicious name like “Fudge Pie” and “Kaiserschmarrn.” Funk is not a major eyewear brand, but they are one of the most interesting independent labels with a developed taste of their own.
Funk can now look back at their 21 years of history and see how their designs have been evolving. Funk introduced the collection “FUNKroyal” in 2004. Another line is called “FUNK food” – that plays with various shapes and different color palettes.

Cooper_06FUNK Food Fudge Pie € 179

Cooper_03FUNKroyal Kuba Kahn € 299

Cooper_01FUNK Food Kaiserschmarrn € 149

Cooper_02FUNKroyal MUT € 329

Cooper_05FUNKroyal Lancelot € 329

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The entire 4SEE staff is very pleased to officially launch the 4SEE Magazin homepage.

Please visit us here regularly to find out more about current and future eyewear trends. 4SEE’s mission is to inform and entertain our readers by offering highly visual editorials, interviews and reports. The Berlin based 4SEE editorial office is collaborating with internationally active editors to present you the global status quo in eyewear fashion and trends.

4SEE is the new benchmark when it comes to eyewear!

We are always online for you at: 4SEEmagazin.com
The 4SEE magazine published twice a year in spring / autumn.

 

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