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Saturday / May 18.
HomemifashionThe Face in His Canvas

The Face in His Canvas

Allan Rasmussen has always had an eye for spotting the right frame for a face. His talent has helped cement the Danish company ProDesign’s philosophy of creating eyewear that dresses the face, so the frame and face interact in perfect harmony.

From a very young age Allan Rasmussen had a vivid imagination. He originally wanted to design clothes, but ended up entering the field of optics as an optician instead because he enjoyed the close contact with people and helping his customers find glasses to suit their face.

His dream and passion to design was always aroused when the perfect frames for a customer couldn’t be found. Rasmussen left the practice of optics and landed a managerial role at ProDesign but was still a step away from reaching his dream as a designer.

In 1999 ProDesign was in trouble. The company parted ways with its head designer, had little cash and not much product in stock. The management of the company was taken over by Mogens Frederiksen and it was at this time, Allan Rasmussen saw an opportunity.

As an optician, whenever Allan saw that the customer would hold his or her head a little higher when walking out the door, he knew that he had chosen the right frame

He put some ideas down on paper and shared his designs with the new boss. A shocked Frederiksen decided to take a chance, and six months later Rasmussen’s frames were on the shelf.

Rasmussen has been designing for ProDesign ever since.

Face First

Allan Rasmussen has a specific customer – or face – in mind when he designs. He is very much inspired by, and designs to enhance, the best facial features in people and to make them an even more beautiful version of themselves.

He finds inspiration from the thousands of faces that have crossed his path. Whenever he’d see a customer hold his or her head a little higher when they walked out the door of his optical practice, he knew he had chosen the right frame.

It therefore makes sense when you discover that all of the designer frames at ProDesign have been drawn directly onto a face before they are made. The ProDesign designers, with Rasmussen at the forefront, work to create frames that are not only cool designer objects, but they also deliberately enhance the lines of the face.

The crux of these ‘cool designs’ comes from the different beautiful elements of life – art, nature, architecture, fashion… “You name it,” he says.

“There are no limitations on where we can find inspiration; the tricky part is integrating the inspiration into eyewear in a sophisticated and commercial way. That is also why we use so many resources in product development – we are simply not satisfied until we get it just right.”

Danish Design

The term ‘Danish design’ originates from the great furniture designers from the 1940s to 60s – Arne Jacobsen, Poul Kjærholm and Hans Jørgen Wegner – who set new standards for beautifully sculptured and functional furniture.

Denmark has a proud tradition of making functional, beautiful design characterised by minimalism and sophistication. Today, design continues to be one of Denmark’s biggest exports in.

“What is significant about ‘Danish design’ is the way we challenge ourselves and the materials we work with,” says Rasmussen.

“In Denmark we are good at getting a lot out of almost anything and to eliminate all excess elements that might distract the eye.”

Denmark is a country with great focus on technology and innovation, and of course this is an important parameter for ‘Danish design’ in general. It gives a strong foundation when seeking new challenges in terms of materials and processes. These elements, combined with high quality products and a good understanding of making beautiful products are the main reasons why ‘Danish design’ is so strong.

ProDesign Processes

The designers at ProDesign care a great deal about the materials they use in order to achieve the look they want. Sometimes they even invent new acetate patterns to produce the right frame.

“When designing eyewear, we always try to think out of the box regarding design, technology and materials, but never at the expense of the functionality and comfort. And always from our overall goal: Designing eyewear that suits the face,” says Rasmussen.

ProDesign works with up to seven different frame manufacturers. This is a huge advantage because each manufacturer has their own core competency and ProDesign can choose the most competent manufacturer for each project. This ensures a great level of flexibility as well as creative freedom for the designers.

Because of his background in optics, it is important to Rasmussen and by extension it is important to ProDesign, to listen to opticians. “They know better than anyone what the customers are looking for. Due to the fact that many teens and younger kids spend an increasing amount of time in front of a computer screen – to play or to study – the opticians experience an increase in the demand for cool frames for juniors. ProDesign took this into consideration and created a line of frames for little faces”

Favourite Design

Rasmussen is very passionate about the work of one of his peers who also started out in optics as a practitioner, albeit as an optometrist, not an optician.

“The early Kata models from Blake Kuwahowa are some of my favourite eyewear designs. Kuwahowa was one of the first to use co-injected temples and his eyewear was always in rich colour tones.

“Of our own design, I am most proud of the bestseller 7343, which is the ultimate streamlined designer frame. This was a project that our designers worked on for seven years so it contains our heart and soul.”

Currently, ProDesign is working on a series of retro-shapes that are larger than has been seen from ProDesign before. The materials and colons are very true to the 70s and 60s style frames, but always with a little modern twist. “So we are harking back to some of our past designs for inspiration. After 37 years in the optical industry we have a long backlist of frame designs to be inspired from.”