01 Feb 2019 • Lauren Grace Morris
Covet luxury eyewear? This Melbourne optical studio indicates the industry’s global staying power
During Phoebe Philo’s decade-long reign at Céline – we’ll keep the accent to show respect – optically savvy consumers came to derivate social value from three small dots on the corners of oversize acetate frames, an easily identifiable marking for the coveted brand. It’s a not-so-unique story of a luxury product achieving cult trend status, yet the interesting phenomenon is how exactly spectacles were able to transcend their nerdy reputation and become a sophisticated fashion accessory. Maturated spatial strategies have something do to with it.
There are more and more retail optical spaces cropping up that reflect this burgeoning demand for luxury eyewear, whether consumers necessarily need the prescription lenses or not. Vision Studio designed by Studio Edwards in Melbourne is one of them – the minimalist shop certainly looks nothing like the places bespectacled generations before us would have learned they had astigmatism or far-sightedness in. The aesthetic has grown up, well overdue for an industry that’s literally supposed to optimise how and what we see.
The global eyewear industry is projected to reach over 118 billion euros by 2021; the rising popularity of direct-to-consumer brands and our visually detrimental blue light dependency are just a few factors responsible. Desirable eyewear boutiques first introduced by established luxury brands like Oliver Peoples paved the way for newer retailers and opticians to bring their own vision of spatial disruption to the industry.
Vision Studio takes a lot of cues from what’s done well for fashion industry and influencer Instagram feeds: marble, monochrome surfaces, exposed industrial elements and that pervasive millennial pink are all present for duty. The space is zoned by the retail and private consultation areas; clients have free rein to try on glasses, learn about the products and envisage themselves in vertically angled mirrors.
It’s the eyewear industry’s willingness to amalgamate with the fashion industry and the instant self-branding magic of a pair of frames – hello, Iris Apfel – that support the inevitability of spaces like Vision Studio. Otherwise, wouldn’t we just be content with the sheer mediocrity of our old opticians’ offices and a set of contacts?