EYEVAN is a brand based on the concept of eyewear as fashion. After launching brands such as EYEVAN 7285, 10 eyevan, and Eyevol, the brand has launched its fifth and newest brand: E5 eyevan.
E5 eyevan’s theme is based on the idea from biology that “form follows role and purpose,” and the brand strives for true function. In a return to the roots of eyewear, the brand has five principles for creating functional products: the products must be practical, functional, reliable, flexible, and durable. Born out of the pursuit of essential functions, the resulting designs are minimal and beautiful. To celebrate E5 eyevan’s launch, there will be pop-up stores at EYEVAN 7285 Tokyo, THE EYEVAN Kyoto Gion, and Continuer Ebisu until October 24th.
We asked E5 eyevan designer Hirotaka Nakagawa about how the brand started and the products’ special features.
An aesthetic that prioritizes convenience and efficiency for the wearer
――Why did you end up choosing biology as E5 eyevan’s theme?
Hirotaka Nakagawa: I was familiar with “form follows function” as a phrase in the architecture industry—such as in Bauhaus—but it had never been the focal point of my design. I just remembered it as cool, so when I faced the challenge of designing eyewear that would strive for function, these words felt right. Upon making this phrase the theme of the new label, I learned that it had originated in 19th-century biology.
――It’s a famous saying in architecture.
Hirotaka: Further research led me to readings that refer to Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Why is it that when we look at plants and animals, we find them beautiful? This is because the shapes of these organisms have a purpose. Purpose has shaped their design. The same goes for architecture and manufactured products. I feel like everything reaches its ideal state based on its purpose and role, and that’s how I came up with this theme.
――In terms of design, how is this brand different from the other brands you’ve worked on, such as EYEVAN 7285, 10 eyevan, and Eyevol?
Hirotaka: The production process is very different. In the past, my design process mainly consisted of imagining a beautiful shape first, and once I’d decided on the exterior, so to speak, I’d dig deeper into the function—how easy it was to wear and use. You could say this was based on the brand’s concept of interpreting eyewear as fashion.
On the other hand, items meant for function are primarily designed with convenience and efficiency as the top priorities, right? For example, with military wear and workwear, all the parts—such as the fabric, the pockets, and the placement of the buttons—have a fixed purpose and role, and the final design is created according to that. Unlike other brands I’ve worked on before, I realized that if I followed this very basic process with E5 eyevan, I would end up creating something beautiful. I also remembered that when I was a kid, I was obsessed with plastic model tanks. There’s also a clear reason behind the tank design.
――That’s similar to the philosophy of menswear. The placement of suit lapels, vents, and pockets all have a purpose.
Hirotaka: Right. In the past, an idea for a beautiful eyewear design came first. But E5 eyevan has the opposite approach. I think if you strive for function, the product naturally becomes beautiful.
Creating products that suit the subtle differences of each generation’s face shape
――10 eyevan is also a label that emphasizes function. How exactly is it different from E5 eyevan?
Hirotaka: This is quite straightforward, but since the birth of EYEVAN 7285 in 2013, we’ve gone on to launch 10 eyevan and Eyevol. My creative thinking has gradually shifted in a direction that emphasizes function. Eyevol’s sunglasses are an exception, but EYEVAN 7285’s designs focus on beauty, or what I’d call artistry. With 10 eyevan, I think the artistry—how beautiful the parts are—is equal to the function aspect. E5 eyevan prioritizes function, so there’s a clear difference in the way we strive for artistry and function. We’ve been launching a new brand about every three years, and looking back, it’s clear that my feelings have gradually shifted towards function.
――Recently, the trend of returning to the classics has calmed down. but what do you think of this when it comes to E5 eyevan’s branding?
Hirotaka: I don’t think of the branding in a chronological way such as new or old, but rather, as a mix of artistry and function. That being said, there are clear trends in the lens shapes. But that isn’t something that gets in the way of function, so while E5 eyevan looks classic on the outside, the construction is modern. It’s a bit of a strange combination, isn’t it? While it uses the latest technology and materials for functionality, it appears classic.
――The brand has five principles: the products must be practical, functional, reliable, flexible, and durable. Could you give us some more detail about the features?
Hirotaka: First, there are the L-shaped temples, which we patented. I had the idea to maximize the effectiveness of the materials and use BS titanium, which we had never used before. The point between the temple of the glasses and the temple of the head is kept farther away from the front of the face and the reach of the hinge is about 1 cm longer, which makes the spring more flexible.
Another thing is the construction of the hinges, which don’t loosen easily. The stress of opening and closing the temples can cause the screws to loosen, but by covering the area around the screws with piping, we can reduce that impact. This eliminates misalignment and distortion for a long-lasting, comfortable fit. In addition, the end tips are made of tungsten—which means “heavy stone” in Swedish—to reduce the weight on the front of the face, and the nose pads are made of Nucrel, a material that doesn’t slide around easily and stays intact over time.
Lastly, this is very important—the glasses are easy for opticians to adjust. In reality, few brands think about this point. As a result, one of our brand’s unique characteristics is that it’s difficult to tell if the glasses have been adjusted.
――With metal frames, you can clearly see if the glasses have been adjusted.
Hirotaka: That’s why our glasses are structured in a way where even if the temples are spread out quite widely, it’ll look like that was the original design. I have experience as an optician, and eyewear that’s easy to adjust only has advantages for the person wearing it. This is obvious, but every idea is for the end user.
――What kind of brand do you want to develop E5 eyevan into?
Hirotaka: Regardless of how complete the first collection is, I’ll continue creating products that suit the subtle differences of each generation’s face shape.I think if I do that, the theme will naturally become clearer. It’s just like the theme says: “Form follows role and purpose.” With past designs, I often pursued artistry, so I was searching for answers that didn’t exist. But if you strive for function, the answer is clear. I think designs with practicality and purpose naturally give way to beauty, and while I’m not interested in that process, the final design contains an answer. I believe that in the future, we’ll be able to feel a certain newness from an aesthetic that pursues functionality, structure, and construction in addition to beauty.