Renowned eyewear designer Blake Kuwahara launches his first self-titled eyewear collection, Blake Kuwahara Eyewear. The debut collection comprises nine unisex optical styles (featured here) and nine sunglass styles, which will be previewed in a subsequent issue. Handmade in Japan, each frame is individually crafted from richly colored Italian and Japanese acetates, with one style incorporating titanium.
Kuwahara’s design inspiration was initially driven by aesthetics and a desire to fulfill his own design needs and those in his social circle. “Like many people I know, I straddle both the artistic and business worlds. Many of us struggled to find suitable eyewear, hence the prototype I designed for myself,” says Kuwahara, who wore the prototype one evening while dining with a photographer friend. The friend pointed out that she was seeking a pair of eyewear that was stylish but understated with an edge, just like the pair he was wearing. “From that dinner conversation came the inspiration and proverbial push for launching my signature brand—a collection of frames that are a mash-up of my colliding aesthetics with special attention paid to sculpting and tactility. They are artful but wearable.” By using laborious production techniques paired with intricate handwork, an inner frame silhouette becomes encased within an unexpectedly fresh outer frame shape, resulting in a “frame within a frame” look.
In addition to the eyewear, Kuwahara also designed all of the packaging, cases, displays and accessories. The brand logo was created by longtime collaborator Romane Cameron and is based on Kuwahara’s Japanese family crest, or kamon. Blake Kuwahara Eyewear will be distributed through Fade to Gray, a newly-formed distributing company and will be available at select independent optical shops and lifestyle boutiques across the country.
PHILOSOPHY: “By essentially making a ‘frame within a frame,’ the juxtaposition of shapes and colors creates a design tension that is fresh and unexpected. I wanted this collection to reflect my own aesthetic sensibility—streamlined and modern, but soulful with an artisanal hand,” says Kuwahara. Richard Mewha, president of Fade to Grey and co-founder of Bevel Eyewear adds: “The complexity of seamlessly bonding two frames together was a major technical challenge, but the results are sublime. Blake’s attention to detail is unparalleled. He is such an iconic figure in the design industry and has a huge following. We are thrilled to be working with him on this very personal project.”
MARKETING: Laminated Lucite logo plaques in two sizes and a sculptural metal display with a hand-burnished bronze finish are available. Each frame comes with a hard-shell case wrapped in a textured, leather-like material with the Blake Kuwahara logo in an antique pewter finish.
PRICE POINT: $$$$$
CONTACT: For additional information, contact Fade to Grey, (816) 220-7533;
Blake Kuwahara is the founder of the multidisciplinary design agency Focus Group West and first gained international acclaim as the creator and designer of Kata Eyewear. Prior to launching his own eyewear collection, Kuwahara has designed and collaborated on eyewear collections for John Varvatos, Carolina Herrera, Isaac Mizrahi, Behnaz Sarapfour, Hanae Mori and Coach. His groundbreaking use of engineering and production techniques together with his highly curated eye has reinvented the way eyewear design is approached today.