BEFORE WE BEGIN, I'M GONNA PULL A LITTLE TINA FEY AND INSERT SOME FOOTNOTES TO BE REFERENCED AT YOUR OWN CONVENIENCE. ONLY INSTEAD OF PROPER FOOTNOTING, I'M GOING TO USE *'S BECAUSE I HAVE POST TRAUMATIC STRESS FROM THE VERY REAL TORTURE TECHNIQUE THAT IS FOOTNOTE-FORMATTING, EXPERIENCED THROUGHOUT MY FORMAL EDUCATION. (FORMER ENGLISH TEACHERS- LOVE YA, MEAN IT! HISTORY TEACHERS, MEH...)
Shiny new eyewear collections are released on the daily, marketed, merchandised, and magazine glossified.*1 They just are. All the brands do it and each hour you can pretty much count on another beautiful, hair whipping girl or blue-steel pouting guy putting there hashtag #sunnies on grand display across Insta, Snap, etc etc etc. By the way, I am super not NOT guilty of getting in on such shady fun, because sunglasses ARE fun! "Nah, a fresh new pair of shades really isn't my thing." - said no one ever. *2
Great, then what makes all these latest shades so cool, cutting edge, and compelling? Usually.... nothing really. And we don't often bother asking. Either they're good looking, unflattering, or worth wearing regardless due to a meaningful and rather visible brand logo. (Yours truly totally guilty here of all the above, again.) We rarely even know or care how eyewear are crafted and it's um, pretty disappointing when an expensive pair breaks in two seconds with no explanation.*3
While there is nothing particularly wrong with such shade-selection process, the BTM part of me is far less lax and 100% more aesthetically and creatively critical. Enter Safilo's "The Unseen" capsule collection, designed by Marcel Wanders. Mr. Wanders was dubbed "the Lady Gaga of the design world" by the New York Times, which I don't exactly regard as a gold mine for raving compliments if you know what I mean, so, it must be true. The collection itself, comprised of three sunglasses for both men and women, six optic frames, and eight color ways just debuted at Milan Design Week. For any product or interior designer, Mr. Wanders a'top the most highly regarded working artists of both categories, Milan Design Week is, simply put, ultimate #GOALS. By definition, this means Safilo's UNSEEN pieces are works of modern art. *4
"This also means I put aside every spec of sarcasm for a moment to say that my visual collaboration with Safilo is exactly what I want Beyond The Mag to be all about. Having the opportunity to work with such specialized product, impeccable design, and legendary talent is a true honor and compliment."
Now before we go on about more serious design-y things, compositions, and artistic details.... Yes, OF COURSE the glasses look fantastic on and prompt "where'd you get those?!" questions. Do you seriously think I'd ever collaborate with an eyewear brand that didn't look straight up amazing?! (or moreover, take time to write about it in long-form which is clearly a nerve racking medium?!)..... Ha, please. You'll love them. Everyone who came in contact with mine did. You can buy them right here: www.solsticesunglasses.com
So as I was saying, these capsule pieces were in fact created with the precision, technology, and design capability of a modern art piece, and therefore, I chose to visually present them as such: off-figure, like an exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. To do so, I elect a team as equally capable, authentic, and artistic as the product at hand. Hailing from Montreal, set designer, Oliver Stenberg, and photographer, Simon Duhameleach brought their incredible skill sets and respective styles to this project. While I've worked with both talented individuals separately, Ollie and Simon had never shot together before now. My visual concept originated with geological cross sections, where viewing stratigraphic detail like you see in science textbooks (always loved those!) emphasized and complimented Safilo's detailed floral and geometric patterns which you find engraved inside each pair. To achieve this vision, I was interested in combining Ollie and Simon's natural aesthetics. The fusion produced results.
More about our still-life process:
Both creatives prefer a photo-real approach, which essentially means they are the least lazy people you will ever meet in your life because they build and shoot everything in reality as opposed to digitally inserting missing pieces. Don't get me wrong, I love a good render- it's an art of it's own! But so is this. See that island through the optic glasses? That's a real mini eco-system Ollie built from scratch, hand placing every last sand grain and palm tree. How about that ocean shot? The water is real, the struggle is not.*5 Only bit rendered there were a few bubbles.
While developing visual concepts and preparing for our still life shoot, I wore a pair of Unseen's matte black frames. No matter how thoughtful or prestigious a product may be, if I don't love it, I can't (and won't) work with it. Mr Wanders's use of an extremely light weight metal is one of the collection's key highlights. "Congratulations on the weightless hardware," I thought, admittedly. Because while it sounded tech savvy and modern, in my experience, this means glasses will feel nice/ fit well for their first go round before those flimsy frames assume a crooked, slightly-bent, and unfortunately cheap look. *6 Guess what? THIS. DID. NOT. HAPPEN. Wanders really is the Lady Gaga of design!