Architects may almost be as well known for their spectacles as their fashion sense. . I think that more than the average bespectacled person, architects view eyewear as a personal statement of personality, taste, and creativity. I have always been a firm believer that an eyewear booth would be awesome at an architectural convention. Since I have been slugging through some not-so-enjoyable times these past few weeks, I thought I would have some fun in my post this week.
Keep it up and you’ll go blind
So personally have currently eight pair of glasses. Yes, you read that correctly! I must admit though that two of them need updated prescription lenses, but I have them to do just that and therefore I count them. My personal journey into eyewear actually did not start until my later thirties. Up until that time I was the proud parent of 20/20 vision. But I began to have headaches late in the workday and decided it might be my eyesight. As it turns out, staring at small lines on paper and on a screen can take its toll over time. I mean who knew? I was actually quite resistant in the beginning due to my ego and pride in that previously mentioned eyesight perfection, but the headaches became stronger than my pride and therefore the eyeglasses became part of my life. I began only wearing them at work and only when I was staring at the screen. Of course, that was the majority of my day as you may have guessed. But now almost a decade later, glasses rarely leave my face. I am to the point that I feel more uncomfortable without them on my face. Honestly, at times I push them up even when I am not wearing them. That will make you feel not only old but a bit ridiculous. Ghost glasses? I’m sure it has a name. Anyway, now I am one of those architects that fully embraces the need for eyewear and of course want them to convey a piece of my identity.
The Round Rim
So with that in mind, I wanted to review a few of the types of glasses I think are prevalent in our profession. Let’s start with an easy one… the round rim glasses. These were the chosen style for many a modernist back before the turn of the century. Of course, they are still well-loved today. While they are not a pair that fit my face type or preferred style, I am certain that in a group of twenty architects there will be a pair of these. I think made most famous by Le Corbusier they seem to exude a sense of classic bravado and confidence. I also think this represents a bit of “old school” appreciation.
The Black Plastic Frame
My favorite pair is a simple black frame of either rectangular or a modified wayfarer style. Simply put, a black plastic frame with some weight to it that is a strong element on my face. Now more recently I have moved into a brow-line or semi-rimless wayfarer style, but I still prefer the heavier black notion. I think this basic style gets a great deal of traffic in the architectural profession and probably just “creatives” in general. But I think the nice part about it for most folks utilizing this style is that it only takes a small detail to really make them pop and become individualized. This one seems to run the gamut of styles and shapes but is certainly an architectural staple.
The Metal Frames
Next up is the metal-framed thin-rimmed glasses. This one is maybe also a bit more traditional in the sense of basic eyewear. There are a few notable architects with this preferred style. Oddly enough two of my favorite architects tend to sport this style, Renzo Piano and Glenn Murcutt. Granted they are a bit different stylistically, Glenn’s could be called “frame-less”, but still metal in part. I also have a pair in this vein but I tend not to wear them that often. I just feel they are too light for my big ol’ face. I feel like I just need more weight and these also seem small for my face also. It is sometimes hard to see a full field of view in them for me. But I didn’t want a giant oval frame either. Compromise for the sake of style I suppose.
The Clear Plastic Frame
Another type that seems to have become quite popular lately is the clear frame. While this style has been around for a while, it seems to have made a recent surge in popularity among creative types. Now Denise Scott Brown was sporting these long before anyone, but they can also be seen on some current prominent players in the profession. The current AIA president can often be seen sporting a pair of clears. Again this is a plastic type frame that can be of various shapes, but it’s the “clear” that makes them stand out. Of course, I also have a pair of clear frames; well partially clear. They are clear front-facing but read on the earpiece sides; so they are a modified version of this frame style.
The Wild Card Frame
Lastly, I think there are the “wild card” pairs. This eyewear may not conform to any of the above categories. These take some bold professionals to sport and are usually part of a greater identity of the utmost uniqueness. While I would not say that I have any that fall into this category I see them in my gathering ever so often. They definitely garner some attention. I would say the closest I have to this type are my screen glasses. Granted I do not really wear these out in public, during the pandemic I have sported them in more than a few Zoom meetings. They have yellow lenses to deal with screen glare. I usually only wear them when I am churning away on the computer for several days and I am not worried about colors on that screen. But I can tell you they do get some comments, but being in Texas, it is usually something about wearing “hunting” glasses. Haha.
Also if you want to see how Bob feels about eyewear check out this post from eleven years ago. Maybe he has changed his tune since then, but maybe not. So I will throw this out there and ask you all to share your architectural spectacles with us via Instagram and tag Bob (@bobborson) or myself (@architect.andrew) in the post. Maybe add the hashtag #archspecs too! I would love to see what kind of eyewear our readers are sporting these days. Wishing you all good vision and sweet frames.
Until next time,