No hinge wooden case with an indigo dyed soft case made in Kyoto
Our History & Process
In 2008, I was studying architecture at Cornell University located in Ithaca, New York. It was during the time of the Iraqi War and there were protests, anti-war activities and debates that were happening on campus. It is difficult to pin the reason of any quarrel to one cause, but oil seemed to be a large reason of the war. Our economy, and many economies are dependent on oil. The gasoline that motorizes our cars and automated machines, the natural gas that generates electricity and provides fire for cooking, and many products made by petroleum including pet bottles and plastic. Our dependency on oil has an enormous influence on our economy, and I had come to realize the significant damage and pollution it had on our planet.
SOCAR Oil Fields #10 - Baku, Azerbaijan, 2006 - Photo by Edward Burtynsky
After graduation, I returned to Japan, the land where I was born and raised, and was surprised to see the amount of waste that was produced everyday. A manufacturing system that covers everything in plastic, and a consumer trend that fails to acknowledge its environmental impact. Petroleum based products were everywhere. In our homes, in offices, in our towns, and in every corner of our civilization, goods made from oil surround us. Although Japan is not at war with any country in particular, we are very much supporting the quarrels and war that are happening around the world by being a large consumer of natural resources.
Yono, Mie, Japan - According to the Ministry of the Environment 44,000,000 tons of waste was produced in 2016.
I wanted my homeland to be a symbol of peace and an example of sustainable living. I started to believe in order for such achievement, we needed to use resources that were plenty and local to build tools, goods, and environments we wished, and that all we produced must be friendly to our planet.
When I was 23 years old, I came up with the idea of making eyewear out of wood. Turns out the first eyewear ever made was made out of wood, but they were bulky and were replaced by materials such as metal and plastic that promised a higher resistance towards water and was easier to manufacture in quantity.
When I was 24 years old, I met an architect from San Francisco that was researching small residential dwellings in Japan, particularly focused in Tokyo. His outlook on life and his lifestyle inspired me, and I decided to follow him to San Francisco and became his apprentice for 2 years. In San Francisco the pioneer spirit, and the explosive creativity that existed amongst the young generations inspired me. Although I continued my research and studies in making eyewear out of wood during my stay in San Francisco, the first prototype was made after I moved to Kyoto at the age of 26.
Photo by Han Wang - San Francisco
A close friend of mine lived in Kyoto at the time, and through his kindness I was introduced to a small 6 meter squared room. The apartment was an old classical style building built close to a 100 years ago. The units had no private bathroom and shower, and the rooms had no insulation and were accommodated with single-sheet hand made windows. The winter days were spent cold with chilly air seeping in through the cracks. Despite the old and rustic conditions, there was something magical and special about the place. Our first eyewear was crafted in this tiny magical space.
The first eyewear made
Kyoto has a long and prolific history in the arts, and many wonderful artists and creators lives in modern Kyoto. I enjoyed interacting and learning from inspired artists and craftsmanship while continuing my research. About a year spent in Kyoto, I met a cabinetmaker and designer, Yoshito Dodo of + veve, that would change the way we made eyewear forever. His aesthetic and knowledge took the eyewear, which was then an artistic artifact, and made it into a functional product.
Photo by Nico Perez - Yoshito Dodo of +veve (http://plusveve.com/)
Our eyewear is a product of relationships, ideas and hardship, and the result of unconditional support from family, friends, and our customers. Our aim is to design and manufacture products the bridges the generations and people from all around the world and to coexist with the natural principles of our planet.
Sincerely, Sheyen S. Ikeda
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