Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Designer Specs

Model 1054

The concept that something completey void of bold designer labels or conspicuous branding can still represent luxury and leading edge design is a concept I think might just be the new trend. Its certainly a concept that speaks to my design philosophy - intelligent design paired with impeccable style is always high quality in my books, regardless of labels. My design philosophy is something that's not only applied to my work, its my lifestyle approach - enhancing all aspects of day to day living thru good design, I live for good design. My recent experience purchasing a new pair of eyeglasses, selected purely for their craftsmanship and stylish silhoutte is a testament to that.

With a new prescription in hand, I spent a frustrating hour trying on every frame in the optometrist's office, most all with well known designer labels but nothing was working for me.  Before heading out the door, as a last resort I asked the technician if there was anything else she could show me ..... and to my surprise she reached under the counter and pulled out an entire tray of more frames!  I instantly spotted a pair of mottled tortoiseshell beauties and tried them on, the technician's face lit up with approval and I knew before even looking in the mirror I wanted them.  Not only was I crazy for their retro style, I loved the feel of them and the weight.  I was purely drawn to their design.  Unbelievably, I didn't even care that I just selected a new no-name pair of frames from amongst hundreds of designer logo specs (seriously I even shocked myself!). It wasn't until I returned a week later to pick up my glasses (that came in a plain brown cardboard box btw) that the technician proceeded to tell me all about the maker of my new *no-name* frames and the design story behind them.  

Modo Eyewear Boutique, Soho NY.

It turns out these new cool specs that I had *spec’d* are in fact pretty unique.  They are made by Modo eyewear based in Soho NY where they also have a flagship boutique. Modo is a small independent manufacturer that was founded by Italian born Alessandro Lanaro when he moved to NYC in 1990.  Unlike most eyewear brands who are all made by the same few factories (explaining why they also look so much the same) Modo's Italian chic inspired line of frames are designed in Soho and hand crafted in Japan. The collection features a few exclusive designer lines like Derek Lam, Philip Lim and Jason Wu, each discreetly branded.  In 2008 Modo launched the world's first-ever consumer line of UL validated eco friendly eyewear, called Eco Specs (Eco Conscious Optics), guaranteed made from 95% recycled materials and....discreetly 100% designer logo free.  This new line not only respresents a dedication to sustainability (a revolutionary one at that),,,,,it maintains Modo's dedication to sophisticated designs and highest quality craftsmanship.  Don't you wish all products were like this?

Interior view Modo eyewear Boutique, NYC.

Eco spec glasses are discreetly identified by a very small, fine circular silver arrow symbol on the arm (almost looks like a screw head) its similar to the recycle icon we’re all so familiar with.  I refer to it as a ‘symbol’ rather than a logo as to me it symbolizes a design philosophy rather than a designers name.

Each pair of glasses comes in a plain brown box made from recycled material.  Inside you'll find a canvas case and an envelope addressed to an organization that distributes your old glasses to people in need around the world.  In addition to this, for every pair of frames purchased Modo donates a tree to Trees for the Future, a non profit organization that plants trees around the world.

The Eco Spec concept has been described as a revolutionary approach to eye wear and I'm thrilled that I just blindly discovered them (literally and figuratively!).  I’m excited when I stumble upon great design in any form, its something I value in all aspects of living from housewares, to furniture, sports equipment, tools and electronics.  Its what enhances and simplifies our lives, in small ways and big.  There's nothing I love more than discovering great new design,,,,, except sharing it.

For more info check out these links:

Top Photo:  Carol Reed
All other photos:  Modo Eyewear


  1. I knew there was a reason I had not found new glasses....these are lovely.
    thanks for sharing.

  2. They are stunning and I am so in agreement about the designer labels. I will search high and low to find products which do not have the ephemeral brand name on them. A design should be good enough to hold its own, and not have to be supported by a brand name.


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