The Essential Qualities of Artisanal Eyewear

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Behind every great artisanal brand there are three elements. Firstly, a respect for great raw materials. Secondly, a dedication to craftsmanship. Thirdly, a clear style.

The combination of all three is necessary to give a brand a lasting interest. 

Great raw materials are wasted with poor craftsmanship. Great craftsmanship deserves the best materials. Finally, great materials and craftsmanship are wasted without style.

The marriage of these three traits are the ambition of all true artisanal brand, and few companies embody this better than Maison Bonnet, the French “Lunetier”. 


Image credits @maisonbonnet

Let’s use this bespoke eyewear brand as an example of an artisanal company and learn a little about glasses along the way.

Whenever a skilled artisan spends considerable time on something, it is only reasonable that the material reflects the preciousness of their craftsmanship. 


Image credits @maisonbonnet

In the world of eyewear there are three materials that fit the artisanal techniques best. 

Acetate is often used in eyewear. It is made from cotton and wood and can be produced sustainably and be worked beautifully. Buffalo horn and tortoise shell are the more precious materials that have been used to make spectacles for centuries.

These beautiful materials deserve great craftsmanship, which Maison Bonnet has exercised for 4 generations and it takes many hours to perfect a frame. Bespoke eyewear is made by hand and involves two fittings, one for measurements and to choose the design, material and colour and a second fitting to adjust the glasses to the face.

Surely such a heritage of “savoir-faire” is helpful but nevertheless it is always difficult to think about reaching perfection.

Craftsmanship is quite universal, so perhaps it is similar to when renowned chef Marco Pierre White said that “perfection is a lot of little things done well”

Lastly, style is very important, without it the rest is wasted. 

When you are choosing a pair of glasses, these are the things to keep in mind. The shape is most important and must compliment the stature of the client, the shape of the head and the contour of the eyes. The colour and texture of the raw material must be flattering to the completion and eye and hair colour just like the shades of sunglasses must be both practical and stylish.


Image credits @maisonbonnet

Maison Bonnet have made glasses for presidents, architects and designers, but still starts from scratch with a sketch for their bespoke glasses. The style must suit the wearer and be authentic. 4th generation, Franck Bonnet believes that “Style becomes an evidence once it reflects one’s soul, audacity and anatomy”

Houses like Maison Bonnet are special, but they are not unique. Great artisans can be found in every craft, and perhaps near you. It is the process of collaboration and having something made for you that is so special.

Invest in quality. Invest in passion. Invest yourself in making something great.

Perhaps you are not looking for a pair of glasses but for a beautiful wooden dining table. Why not go to your local cabinet-maker and design it together. Artisans are often open to realise new ideas you might have. This way you can have something you will truly cherish.

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