EYE ON THGE PRIZE

If any­one can make bi­fo­cals look good, it’s Ken Okuyama.

The Peak (Singapore) - - The Hot Seat -

Own a Ferrari Enzo or a Maserati Qu­at­tro­porte? How about a pair of glasses or shades by the man who de­signed them? Yes, we’re talk­ing about eye­wear by none other than the leg­endary Ken Okuyama, a su­per­car icon who has left his artis­tic mark on every­thing a gen­tle­man of taste (and means) could want. And his eye­wear col­lec­tion, Ken Okuyama Eyes, has ev­ery bit of that sharp, mas­cu­line DNA he’s be­come known for.

Okuyama is in the busi­ness of de­sire more than mere func­tion. Pair that vi­sion with a man­date of “mod­ern, sim­ple and time­less” de­sign and you have eye­wear that is stylish, com­fort­able and, par­don us, eye- catch­ing.

Ev­ery pair is er­gonom­i­cally de­signed, with tem­ples made from beta ti­ta­nium — a ti­ta­nium al­loy val­ued by air­craft, space­craft and sports car in­dus­tries for its high strength — and ends shaped in a way that shifts the cen­tre of grav­ity back­wards, en­sur­ing a more bal­anced t. The frames are held to­gether by Torx screws (an­other au­to­mo­bile favourite), as they pro­vide su­pe­rior tight­en­ing and anti-twist­ing prop­er­ties com­pared to reg­u­lar screws. More ap­par­ent nods to his day job can be found in mod­els like the KOS-103 avi­a­tor sun­glasses, where the bridge takes on the grille pat­tern of cars.

It’s not just cars Okuyama has taken in­spi­ra­tion from. His rm has also been con­sulted on projects for the­atres, mul­ti­plexes and of ces, and this pas­sion for ar­chi­tec­ture is ev­i­dent in pieces from the Stile col­lec­tion. The frames on the brow­bar KO-211 model, for in­stance, take on a truss-like con gu­ra­tion in ti­ta­nium, and won him the Red Dot De­sign Award for Prod­uct De­sign in 2015.

His eye­wear may look and feel good, but if you’re in it for ex­clu­siv­ity, the Tsub­ame X Sabae col­lec­tion is what you should be eye­ing. Okuyama has sought out crafts­men from Ja­pan’s Tsub­ame city and the man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy of Sabae city to cre­ate this lim­ited production col­lec­tion. Tsub­ame is fa­mous for its metal pol­ish­ing tech­nique and, us­ing meth­ods handed

down from the Edo era, pro­duces 90 per cent of Ja­panese-made metal cutlery. Its crafts­men can pol­ish any­thing — from air­plane wings to iPod backs — to a bril­liant mir­ror nish, and Okuyama has bor­rowed their ex­per­tise for the glasses’ frames.

Sabae on the other hand, is based in Fukui pre­fec­ture and has an in­dus­try en­tirely ded­i­cated to eye­wear with a his­tory span­ning over a cen­tury. It now pro­duces al­most all of the na­tion’s eye­wear. For Okuyama’s KO-219 model, Sabae’s crafts­men chose du­ra­lu­min, an alu­mini­um­based al­loy, for the front frame for its su­pe­rior hard­ness and light weight.

Ken Okuyama Eyes also boasts a Gold Col­lec­tion. While gold ver­sions are avail­able for some of the ex­ist­ing ti­ta­nium mod­els, a com­pletely new de­sign was cre­ated for this col­lec­tion. Every­thing save for the lenses and nose pads are made of 18K gold. The styles are clean and con­tem­po­rary, ex­pelling the im­age of os­ten­ta­tion that un­for­tu­nately tends to plague solid gold ac­ces­sories.

If the move from lux­ury cars to eye­wear seems a tad con­trived, know that Okuyama is any­thing but a one-trick pony. He may have worked as chief de­signer for Gen­eral Mo­tors, se­nior de­signer for Porsche AG and de­sign di­rec­tor for Pin­in­fa­rina S.p. A., but he has a host of Red Dot De­sign Awards for his home­ware and fur­ni­ture, as well as Good De­sign Awards for home en­ter­tain­ment sys­tems, kitchen­ware and even a spec­trom­e­ter. His most re­cent ac­com­plish­ment was earn­ing this year’s Lau­rel Prize for the ex­te­rior and in­te­rior de­sign of the JR- East E235 train.

If you want to up your eye­wear game, Ken Okuyama Eyes is avail­able at Eye The­ory at Leisure Park Kal­lang, Ocu­lar Com­pany at Sun­tec City, The Eye Place, and Paris Miki at Takashimaya, Liang Court and VivoCity.

The su­per­car de­signer ap­plies his technical ex­per­tise to his range of spec­ta­cles, which fea­tures ti­ta­nium al­loy and Torx screws used in the car in­dus­try. The KO-211 model (this page, gold) won the Red Dot De­sign Award. KO-219 (far right) is made from du­ra­lu­min.

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