Pyrotechnically Produced, Weightless, Futuristic, Crush-Proof Eyewear The ic! berlin World Takeover
If you adore the post-modern, fine craftsmanship, the latest in technology, ultra-sleek surfaces, invention, innovation, and a futuristic vibe that is always ahead of the curve, ici! berlin is your kind of eyewear company. ic!’s laser-cut, paper-thin stainless steel frames are not only weightless, they are only .5 millimeters wide, have no screws, no soldering, and are cut from one piece of metal. Like Michelangelo, it is as if the founder-genius Ralph Anderl sees the glasses within the metal and only has to “hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition,” as Michelangelo said of sculpting.
The secret behind these space-age frames is a patented hinge system that clips the frame to the temple. You can completely disassemble and reassemble the glasses, meaning you can switch out the lenses yourself, turning prescription glasses into prescription sunglasses, or trying a blue lens as opposed to a brown. Instead of having a wardrobe full of glasses, you could have a case full of assorted lenses for one perfect frame.
Anderl’s ars poetica can be summed up in one word, “naked.” Naked in design and philosophy — To be naked before the world, and for his glasses to be naked in terms of manufacturing, design, and in the feel of the glasses on the face, since they are so weightless. To further underscore his philosophy for the public, Anderl recently modeled his glasses naked for the ic! berlin show. Anderl came out on the stage completely naked and stood there, staring up at the sky in a pair of his silver rimmed, rectangular lensed creations. Anderl explains in his almost-perfect English,
“When you hold a pair of ic! berlin glasses in your hands, you can feel why all of this effort is justified: the glasses captivate you with their stability of form and their flexibility. The rounded edges caress your fingers. ic! berlin glasses do not allow for compromises, because they are naked. Because we don’t screw, solder, or weld, no pair of ic!”
Interviewers who have met Anderl use adjectives like “genius” and “someone who does not pass by unnoticed. An amazing person, cheerful, positively crazy and madly creative.” When asked to describe his own eyewear, Anderl exclaimed, “Light, simple, comfortable. The style is from conservative to super crazy stylish. The sheet metal is a very open space for creativity and we are fully playing with it.” His philosophy for the future is to capture the world public with an “unconventional conception of a conventional object [that] becomes a daily companion.”
Award Winning Eyewear Designs
Anderl has won an Eyewear of the Year award every single year since 1998, sometimes in Paris, France, at the Silmo, or in Tokyo for the Eyewear of the Year. Ic! has won the Silmo D’Or (Paros) three times (recently winning again in 2013) and the Eyewear of the Year Award (Tokyo) a whopping eight times –a most impressive resume since these are the most prestigious awards in the industry. In fact, ic! has won a major award like this every year since they launched their lines. Receiving the Eyewear of the Year award in Japan, where the Japanese are known for producing the most meticulously crafted eyewear in the world, is quite a special feat, but it was winning the prized Silmo D’Or within a year of startup, Anderl explains, that made “people beg[i]n to believe in us.”
Secrets to Success
If asked to explain the lasting success of this independent eyewear company, Anderl explains, “Customers love being part of a story. Everything we do is reproduced in the center of Berlin. We have a do-it-yourself set where people can build their own glasses. This really helps them understand the flexibility we offer.”
There are all kinds of reasons Anderl’s designs are so popular. One of the major features of his eyewear is the frames are as he calls them, “luxury products” that are hand finished, every single piece. Also, every aspect of their eyewear is made and produced in Berlin. As Anderl explains, “All our departments can be found under one roof at the Backfabrik (a baking factory) in Berlin Mitte. Having all departments together, Anderl asserts, guarantees a supreme level of quality. He demonstrates this confidence by adding his personal mobile number to each frame produced, inconspicuously lasered inside.
This meticulous craftsmanship results in ic! berlin only producing 150,000 frames a year, but each of those pairs have been pampered and polished, hand finished, and loved, before it ever leaves the shop behind the bakery.