Michele De LucchiMichele De Lucchi

JINS Design Project #03JINS Design Project #03

We are all designers of ourselves. JINS×Michele De Lucchi InterviewWe are all designers of ourselves. JINS×Michele De Lucchi Interview

The Designing Process

“Eyeglasses of today” from the perspective of an architect.

As an architect, I design architectural structures as well as space, furniture and lighting fixtures. I’ve also designed bridges and jewelry, but designing eyeglasses is a different matter. It is indeed exciting to be able to design eyeglasses, a product that is a part of our daily lives. The experience has enlightened me to the fact that eyeglasses are a product made up of a number of parts.
When one refers to eyeglasses, it normally means the entire product, but it is composed of a number of parts, including the front, rims, bridge, nose pads, hinges, temples and so on. In this regard, the same could be said of a building that has doors, windows, roof, façade, etc. Therefore, this project was carried out with the same idea of integrating many different parts.

I particularly focused on the fact that “eyeglasses are worn directly on the face.” Each of us has our own individual face. Although changes will appear with age, we are destined to have this face as long as we live, and that is a wonderful thing. Whether to wear eyeglasses or not and, if so, what type one chooses to wear are decisions that are most personal and profound. In taking part in the design for this project, I realized that it is vital to remember what effect eyeglasses can have on an individual.
Then, there are various factors one must take into account when determining a design. There are the technical details, the aesthetics and the contemporariness. The role of architects and designers is to pursue the image of the times with respect to the people who are living in the era. I contemplated what kind of eyeglasses, in terms of form and detail, should be designed right now.

“Eyeglasses of today” from the perspective of an architect.
“Eyeglasses of today” from the perspective of an architect.
“Eyeglasses of today” from the perspective of an architect.
Assemble the types,then create the designs

Assemble the types,then create the designs

Architects and designers must not be rushed into reaching a solution to their work. A certain amount of time must be spent on discussing how to go about the task, and it is essential to understand what sort of discussions would contribute to the objective of the project. The most beautiful course would be where, upon discussions, expectations and needs are recognized and “the solution inevitably becomes clear”. In other words, rather than going through laborious thinking and developing, it is ideal when the solution manifests itself naturally. When one finds the only solution – a solution that is irreplaceable – it is beautiful, because it comes with good cause.
What is essential here is to fully understand the basic nature of what is expected, as only then an appropriate solution can be drawn.
By studying the history of eyeglasses, I learned about the basic shapes and typologies of the lenses and fronts; for instance, the Wellington and Boston. In designing eyeglasses, even when you think that your mind is open and free, a design can fall into a typology. Since this rarely happens when designing some other product, I started by trying to understand the ingredients of each typology. By altering the bridge and temples, which would become the distinctive details, the form of the eyeglasses evolves into various styles. So I started by creating a matrix of the typologies of eyeglasses, beginning with the shapes of the lenses. Combining the designs according to typologies, eight examples of eight types were arranged in a matrix, producing a total of 64 designs. They were further narrowed down to four examples in four types to make a total of 16, which were finally sorted into four forms. Based on the typologies Round, Boston, Cats-Eye and Polygonal, it was a process to discover what is most appealing about the modern eyeglasses, what most complements the wearer, and what they all mean.

Assemble the types,then create the designs

An effective use of deformation
for the front form

The method of “deformation” is used in design.
New forms were explored by specifically distorting or widening the front form. Forms were cut out and tried out on my studio team to examine in detail.
In the preliminary stages, we also made wooden models as samples, just as we do with architectural designs. Since making eyeglasses with wood is a very delicate process, we had to do it over and over again. But the experience proved to be very meaningful.

From the initial making of the samples to the completion of the product, the staff at JINS came to my studio a number of times. I should mention that with the staff’s professional knowledge and experience and with the mutual trust we gained, the process moved forward very smoothly. As a result, the mock-ups reveal the wonderful outcome of the whole process. Whenever there is something I do not like about a project, I destroy the mock-ups, but this time, as you can see, they are all still here.
I gave the names of my team, Monica, Federica, Davide and my name, Michele to the four types to which they were narrowed down.
Once we had come up with the four best types, the next thing was to discuss the kind of finish to apply. Was it going to be a single material finish or a combination of several kinds? Was it going to have a shiny or matte finish? Such details had to be determined. What was surprising and interesting was that by altering some very small details, the entire image of the eyeglasses would change completely. Even with identical eyeglasses, the images of a shiny finish and a matte one would be totally different.
Since a chosen material embodies a whole range of possibilities depending on how it is processed, I hoped that each material would reveal its finest property and produce a new and modern sensitivity. There are finishes in which a clear, transparent part and matte part have been mingled, and ones in which there are two layers.
As for the colors, we carried out numerous trials with the JINS team. Learning as we went along about the special qualities of the materials and how a color can differ when transparent and when opaque, there was much dialog among us before we reached a final decision.

An effective use of deformation for the front form
An effective use of deformation for the front form
An effective use of deformation for the front form
Column : 01 Working and thinking with hands Thinking through the hands that carve the woodColumn : 01 Working and thinking with hands Thinking through the hands that carve the wood

Column : 01 Working and thinking with hands Thinking through the hands that carve the woodColumn : 01 Working and thinking with hands Thinking through the hands that carve the wood

At the workshop I set up in my studio, we always make architectural models by carving wood. The models are made one by one, just as a woodworker would, because I believe that the initial stage of a project should be done by hand. After the wooden models and samples are made, we continue with the trials using modern equipment, but in the early stages when the project gets started, we take working with our hands seriously.
I have lived through an era in which there were major changes. When I was a student studying architecture, information was all written on paper. A pencil and paper was used to design, books and archives were all on paper, and we would be given an assignment to see how many lines we could draw within a millimeter. Those are the ways we studied architecture. But nowadays, it is different. The student who can use Illustrator to draw a 3D plan the fastest might be considered the best. I am troubled by the fact that the value of our amazing hands is being diminished.
Work done by hand embraces the real meaning behind conducting a wide range of experiments. Sometimes, work done by hand can fail. But that is exactly the reason why it is important to make the many different parts with our hands, which will help us discover essential points as we proceed. I believe that there is considerable meaning in the process of examining with our hands and enhancing our ideas.

Research & the Concept BookResearch & the Concept Book

Column : 02 Research & the Concept BookColumn : 02 Research & the Concept Book

We always make a concept book for each project.
This project is also compiled in a book. Unlike architectural projects, research into how eyeglasses have been used, as well as their origin and history have also been included.
The history of eyeglasses goes back about 400 years. I myself cannot work without glasses, for without them the world fades farther away. But when we go back in history to Leonardo da Vinci, it is astonishing to learn that he carried out such amazing work without eyeglasses. Musing over such matters was also very interesting.
According to existing records, eyeglasses first appeared in 1352, when they were used at a church in Treviso. Since Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452, he could have used eyeglasses, but no records can be found that he ever did. Later on, in the 1600s, the general public came to use eyeglasses, and I also learned that, from about 200 years ago, eyeglasses also evolved with the evolution of fashion.
I also studied eyeglasses worn by celebrities, because they shed enormous light on the personality of the wearer. For us architects, the most renowned person to have worn eyeglasses is, of course, Le Corbusier. Such studies into the relationship of eyeglasses and an individual also greatly contributed to understanding the world of eyeglasses.
Toward the end of the book, we mention what inspired us. Various photographs, such as an imperfect surface and a step-like surface are included, too. The book is also a platform to share with the collaborators. Using this book, we were able to conduct some interesting conversations with the staff from JINS.

The philosophy behind a design

Personalities that each of us create

Personalities that each of us create

Let me tell you something about my beard. I’ve had it for a long time.
I have a twin brother. When we were children, we were always looked upon as one pair. Our mother would call “Twins, twins!” and we’d go to her together, and that is the sort of environment we grew up in. The two of us were always together, both when we were praised and when we were scolded. But as we got older, neither my brother nor I wanted to be looked upon as one of a pair. We tried as many ways as possible to look different, and I grew a beard.
In this way, I began to have a strong sense of being myself – of being a unique individual. I discovered that one must create one’s own personality, and that everyone is a designer of themself. Your hairstyle, what you wear, how you behave, all such elements that make up a personality are determined by no one else but you.
In this regard, eyeglasses are very significant. They are the most important detail of a person’s face.
Selecting a pair of eyeglasses is like a self-analysis, and the act of choosing a pair itself constitutes a profound decision-making process. When you are trying to select a pair of eyeglasses for yourself, you are probably thinking about eyeglasses, not just when you are in the store, but also in the morning and in the evening, or when you see your face in the mirror at home, or when you are walking around town. Some people might choose to wear eyeglasses to look different from others, while some might choose to wear them because they want to have the same look. Some might have a celebrity such as a movie star or a soccer player in mind and choose a pair similar to those he or she wears.
It is interesting to note that one’s personality is exposed when selecting eyeglasses.

Personalities that each of us create

Column : 03 What to keep in mind as an architectColumn : 03 What to keep in mind as an architect

Architecture is a testimony of the times, because it involves the following issues: What sort of value does it embody? Who is it for and how do you assess it?
I studied architecture in the 1970s at university in Florence. I learned about the history and techniques of architecture, including the Renaissance. Some years later, I met the architect Ettore Sottosas, who was 34 years older than me. I joined the Studio Alchymia, which he had launched with his colleagues in 1976, and I also took part in the founding of Memphis in 1981. Ettore taught me the really important things that I did not learn at university.
He taught me that an architect’s work is not merely about creating a design for a structure, but also about the significance of looking at human behavior and activities. The job of an architect is to understand humankind and the world, and to make a careful analysis of the needs of human life, and then to project them into a form.

What to keep in mind as an architectWhat to keep in mind as an architect

The distance between objectsThe distance between objects

Since taking on the role of chief editor of the design magazine “Domus”, I have come to contemplate more about the meaning of “objects”. Particularly interesting is the “distance between objects”. For instance, the buildings you see out of your room look like small objects when seen from a distance. If you hold a pair of eyeglasses in your hand, the glasses in front of you look bigger than the buildings in the distance. The buildings are therefore perceived in the same context as the objects on the desk. Large scale objects, objects in the distance that look small, and objects that are actually small; when creating something new and designing these objects, what is important is the “human” aspect. We need to explore “humans” in depth. The editing of the “Domus” magazine is also inspired by an interest in this theme.

Eyeglasses that link you to the future you wish for.
Eyeglasses that link you to the future you wish for.

Eyeglasses that link you to the future you wish for.

Eyeglasses that link you to the future you wish for.

When we explore this theme further, we come to realize that eyewear is an important tool in achieving our dreams. It is what connects you to the future you wish for. You think about how you want to look as you form a mental image.
One thousand years ago, if you were born in a certain place, you’d probably stay there for the rest of your life. The flow of time used to be much slower and the amount of information that was available was limited. However, nowadays, we don’t have to stay in one place. We are free to live anywhere we want. Each of us is in charge of our own future.
Another point is that of all the living creatures, humans are the only ones that can create things. Of course, there are other creatures that make things, but bees always make the same type of beehives and birds always make the same type of nests. But look around and you will see that the buildings are not the same. Only humans keep producing something different. We strive to see something novel and cannot resist creating something new. If we were to keep making the same thing, we would probably feel as if time had come to a standstill.

Eyeglasses that link you to the future you wish for.
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