HOW MODERN ARCHITECTURE INSPIRED AN EYEWEAR COLLECTION
Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Johnson, Pei. These are just some of the celebrated 20th century architects that helped shape the American urban landscape with their visionary designs. These masters of modern architecture are the inspiration behind our Metro Collection which features classic eyewear remastered for modern lifestyles.
One of the greatest architects in American history, Frank Lloyd Wright was also one of the more prolific designers. He designed more than 1,100 buildings in his lifetime, nearly a third of which were done when he was in his 70s and 80s! The energetic (and often cantankerous and uncompromising) architect, who passed away in 1959 at the age of 91, is best known for The Guggenheim in New York City, the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, and the Marin County Civic Center in Northern California, as well as many private residences including Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, Taliesin in Wisconsin, and the Wright home in Illinois.
Wright was a leader of the Prairie School architecture movement which encompassed horizontal lines, flat roofs and integration with the landscape. A pioneer of organic architecture, Wright believed that man-made structures should be in harmony with nature. He relied heavily on natural materials such as wood and stone in his designs.
With a nod to renewable resources, all the frames in our Metro Collection are constructed with premium acetate, a hypoallergenic, natural plastic that is derived from cellulose (obtained from cotton or wood pulp). The frames are cut from large, colorful acetate sheets to maintain depth of color and durability, then finished by hand for a lustrous sheen and incomparable quality.
Our Wright frame has a subtle cat-eye shape that is elegant and fearless. It comes in these natural hues and patterns: black, dark brown tortoiseshell and a striated honey brown.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a leading avant-garde architect who began his career in his homeland of Germany. Notably, van der Rohe was the last director of the famed modernist Bauhaus school of design. In the 1930s, after several raids by the Nazis, the Bauhaus was shut down and van der Rohe immigrated to America. His most famous designs in the U.S. include the Chicago Federal Plaza, the Farnsworth House just outside of Chicago, and the Seagram Building in New York City—considered to be one of the greatest examples of modernist high-rise architecture.
Completed in 1958, the Seagram Building became the model for New York skyscrapers for decades. The Seagram Building kicked off a trend toward simple skyscrapers that celebrated the structure itself—all glass and steel—as opposed to covering it up with ornate flourishes. Like Wright, van der Rohe believed in preserving the harmony between buildings and their environment. With the Seagram Building, he set it back 100 feet from the street with an open plaza in front. This created an urban pedestrian space that linked the building to the city.
Philip Johnson worked with van der Rohe, his mentor, on the Seagram Building. Prior to that, he caused a stir in the modern architecture movement with his Glass House. The Glass House, built in 1949, was Johnson’s private residence and was built with—surprise, surprise—glass walls. In addition to glass walls, the interior featured an open floor plan which was a new concept then. At the time, the Glass House was the height of modern design. Johnson’s later works combine minimalism and elements of pop art—in fact, he was an avid art collector who introduced artists like Rothko and Warhol to the Museum of Modern Art. Johnson’s iconic buildings include the PPG Place in Pittsburgh and the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA. Johnson even gets a shout out from the late David Bowie in his song “Through these Architect’s Eyes” with the lyrics, “Stomping along on this big Philip Johnson.”
The vintage-inspired Metro Collection features classic shapes—square, round, rectangle and aviator—with contemporary colors, patterns and details. Van der Rohe is a fashion-forward aviator that is perfect for attention-getting sunglasses. Named for the architect who also wore circular specs, the Johnson frame is a striking round frame with a stylish keyhole bridge.
Husband and wife design team, Charles and Ray Eames, are perhaps best known for the Eames chair. This molded plywood and leather lounge chair has been in continuous production since 1956—a true classic! In addition to their furniture designs, Ray and Charles Eames were filmmakers and accomplished modern architects. The Eames House, the couple’s home and studio in L.A., is a testament to livable, avant-garde design. Built in 1949, Eames House was part of a design challenge sponsored by Arts and Architecture magazine to build and furnish a pre-fab house using materials and technologies developed during World War II.
The geometric structure with rooms flowing into one another was also designed to integrate with the surrounding nature. A heavy focus on natural materials and natural light gave the sense of blending in with the outdoors.
The Eames frame in our Metro Collection has a rectangle design and comes in fetching colors and patterns like blue tortoiseshell and purple stripe.
Ieoh Ming (I.M.) Pei is the only surviving member of the modern architecture masters of the 20th century. Born in China in 1917, Pei was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright and ultimately moved to America in the 1940s to pursue his career. Pei’s style, based on simple geometric patterns, is best seen in his most famous structure abroad, the Louvre Pyramid in Paris. He had a rich career in the U.S. designing such notable buildings as the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Museum in Boston, the National Gallery East Building in Washington D.C., and the Javits Convention Center in New York. Pei also knew his worth—as one story goes, he supposedly told a client who balked at the price for his design, “My name is I. M. Pei, not I am Not Pay.” Woot!
Pei has always worn stylish round glasses, so it seemed fitting to name one of our Metro circular frames after him. The Pei has a refined look that exudes quiet confidence.
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