[dropcap size=small]O[/dropcap]wn 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 fit.
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 firm has also been consulted on projects for theatres, multiplexes and offices, 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 configuration 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 finish, 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. Or, take a whirl through their website.