We first met Blake Kuwahara at SILMO, where the LA-based designer was debuting his eponymous eyewear collection to the Paris press to rave reviews. The founder of the design agency, Focus Group West, Kuwahara first gained international acclaim as the creator and designer of the KATA Eyewear brand. Now, he’s back with Blake Kuwahara Eyewear, a line of glasses that frame familiar silhouettes in nontraditional surrounding shapes.
The debut collection is comprised of nine unisex optical and nine sunglass styles all made by hand in Japan. Each is individually crafted out of richly colored Italian and Japanese acetates (with one model incorporating titanium).
By essentially making a “frame within a frame,” the juxtaposition of shapes and colors creates a design tension that is fresh and unexpected. Needless to say, bonding two frames together was a major technical challenge, but leave it to Kuwahara and his years of experience with material and manufacturing to make it happen. In addition to the eyewear, Kuwahara designed all of the packaging, cases, displays and accessories which currently include a tote bag and a hand mirror. The logo for the brand, meantime, is based on Kuwahara’s Japanese family crest (or kamon).
Kuwahara wanted his namesake brand to combine his personal inspirations – film, art, literature – with techniques of sculpting and tactility. The result is a collection of artistic frames that is completely unique, yet comfortably familiar.
We like the attention to detail paid to each pair of glasses, which really makes them standout as works of art. While many brands fit into easy classifications – preppy, athletic, avant-garde – Kuwahara’s designs aren’t as easy to pin down. They’re not simple by any means, but they’re not as over-the-top as you’d think on first glance either. The shapes are totally wearable and flatter a variety of face shapes and personalities. As for Kuwahara’s new signature, the “frame within a frame” look adds visual interest and proves that glasses – and glasses wearers – don’t always have to fit into a box.