Last week I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by Alain Bekaert, of Belgian eyewear company Theo. Alain explained the design philosophy and some of the inspiration behind Theo, which was started in the late 80s by opticians Wim Somers and Patrick Hoet. They aimed to bring something different to the eyewear table, which was dominated by boring, label-conscious designs.
"(Theo) make frames for serious people who don't take themselves too seriously. People who are intellectual, but cool about it".
Striving for creativity while keeping a Belgian elegance, Theo understand that ones glasses must be in harmony with oneself - that frames should integrate with the face, not look "like a strange alien sitting on your nose". They appreciate that eyewear adds to the exact communication of an outfit, expressing an individual's personality.
Inspiration comes from anywhere, a neighbor on the street, architecture, interiors, wallpaper, a museum ("full of old goodies and fantastic things!"). Alain recalls a restaurant in Milan where, having spilled spaghetti on the table, the designers began sketching the shapes formed (much to the amusement of the other patrons) and consequently based a collection around them.
Theo releases two collections of approximately 26 designs per year, incorporating a range of frame shapes within the same family of thought. They create each style in eight colours, half neutral and half vivid brights, to give people extensive opportunity to match any mood or outfit. The frames are laser cut in Belgium and assembled in France. Theo aren't phased if a style doesn't sell well in any particular season - they keep all their excess stock and backstyles in a vault in Antwerp. Diehard fans can peruse this collection of vintage frames to find their perfect match.
You can see Theo eyewear in Melbourne at Two Faces in Yarraville (www.twofaces.com.au), Eyeworks on Chapel Street (www.eyeworks.com.au) and Scoogle Eyewear in Albert Park (www.scoogle.com.au). Theo loves you!