Brand of the Moment: BAARS Eyewear

BAARS is a French-based eyewear brand that prides themselves on their distinctive and innovative designs. Launched in 2014, it began with two friends, Parisian designer and electronic music artist Guillaume Thuau, and an Annecy optician, Marc-Antoine Rubaud.

Inspired by Dieter Rams' Less is more approach, Guillaume solved the adage problem of sunglasses or optical glasses that break by developing glasses which have a patented magnetic hinge. Manufactured in Oyonnax, the magnetic hinge makes the models more resistant, more easily interchangeable with a system without screws and fallible elements, thus avoiding breakage of mechanical connective parts. Additionally, it offers options to add temples in different colors or materials with no wear and tear.

Upon their arrival, the brand was noticed and was nominated for the prestigious Silmo d'Or in 2015. Baars philosophy is design with simplicity and sobriety in the face of contemporary complexity. Streamlined silhouettes feature lines with unique shapes which are pure, robust and simple. Baars, which is also the stage name of Guillaume is sold online and in 100 points of sale in France, but also in Europe.

Having seen their stuff for quite a while now, it was high time we got around to chatting with the brand's co-founder and creative director, Guillaume Thuau.

What made you decide to start your own company?
Discovering this revolutionary hinge made me sure that we can really give something new to the business. The best way to do it was to create our own brand, with our own value.

What are your signature designs?
The metal part used for the hinge of course. We also try to provide classic, well balanced, minimalist design. We're a lot into function and sense.

Who wears it?
People who break their glasses, people who like our simple and efficient style, people who think that buying less and better is the good way to do it. That's all we offer.

What was the hardest aspect of setting up your own business and what has been the most rewarding?
The hardest part is to find the right people to work with, people who see as far as we do. The reaction of our clients when they try and discover our innovation is priceless, and it's the best reward we can have.

What has been your career highlight so far?
Pretty good. When I was younger I won an award for a project on "Art Science Price". The idea was to develop Ploppy, a device to spread the awareness of water-related issues in countries where water is easily accessible. After that I went to work as a designer for a nice innovative independent eyewear brand called "Parasite Design" and after that, started my own project and we have been nominated for another award, Silmo d'Or, the first year for the company.

How did you become successful on an international level?
The key is to find the right partner and to share the same vision. Christian (was working at Mykita) helps us a lot because he knows exactly the aim, and we share this same vision. Also, we are really lucky because we have a very unique product, which is the best that we can have, and it doesn't need any words.

How did you become successful on an international level?
Entering business shows as SILMO, visiting shops, explaining what we do, how we are different. It's a lot of hard work.

What are your plans for the brand going forward? What plans do you have for future expansion?
We have a market to develop in Europe, and also the Americas. On the product side, we are introducing this year a new titanium range and we are developing a really unique and amazing project for next year. We really want to be able to offer our innovation, our hinge for every kind of product. I'm also convinced that 3D printing will be big. We already work a lot in this direction.

Who or what were your early influences?
Mostly designer and architects. Dieter Rams, Charles and Ray Eames, Le Corbusier, Marc Newson... Functional items are also really interesting, military clothes and devices, airport vehicles, work outfits ...Just a walk anywhere can also be really interesting, it's all about being able to see what's around us.

How has your creative process evolved over the course of your career?
As my passion for the functional thing became bigger and bigger I've focused more and more on what really matters. The idea is to focus on one important thing, one thing that you really want to bring and design it to be as efficient as possible, to be perfectly clear, simple and obvious. This process of finding the little detail that changes everything is really important to me and its hard work. In the beginning, I wanted lots of things as a designer, make beautiful stuff, furniture or the other. Now I know myself and I know that the important thing is to create something useful, something that brings a little more to the world. It's all about the function.

Where do you draw inspiration from to create your eyewear styles?
Movies, life, people. Just looking at people, the shape of their face, the way they talk, their outfit. All that can bring an idea to imagine and draw a frame to fit on them. Vintage glasses are also interesting to look at.

Are the constantly changing fashion trends affecting how you design?
We're not really into fashion. We're more into style, as it can last. Our style is really simple and minimalist so we can match with the fashion, no matter what's it's about.

Out of all the glasses you created, which one is your favorite piece?
An old frame called Jean. The perfect example of a minimalist frame.

Who is the BAARS customer?
A 40-year-old architect.

Guillaume Thuau
Co-founder and CEO Guillaume Thuau was inspired by Dieter Rams' Less is more approach and applies it to the brands design philosophy.

Who have you seen rocking your shades that's set you over the moon?
When I started in the eyewear business I was looking a lot at a brand called IC! Berlin. The boss, Ralph, really loved our idea and asked me for a pair. That was really cool.

What makes you so passionate about eyewear?
Because it's all about details and material. A tiny change, a drawing, can change everything on a face. It's about finding the perfect line, the simplest one, and after putting that on a face and seeing how those two live together.

What is your Design Philosophy?
Less and better! Of course.

Describe your style

What restrictions are there with eyewear fashion design?
Most of the people want the same as their neighbor. That's a shame for creativity really.

What is the next step after you design a product?
Trying it, shooting it, making a nice picture, showing it to our commercial staff and after to the optician. Always trying to explain why this product is here, what's the story.

What are some of the technical challenges during development?
We had to have special magnetic hinges since the beginning. Putting that on glasses was really challenging. Nobody knew how to do that, and we had to create everything by ourselves.

Would you like to reveal a little bit about the manufacturing process?
We select the best acetate from Italy and bring it to France to turn it into beautiful frames. The lenses are also made in France. The magnet is the only part made in China, and we don't really have a choice: We have developed a very unique magnet which only a few factories in the world are able to make.

Can you tell us about your new (FW19) collection?
The big thing is: Titanium frames are coming...

What fascinates you right now and how is it influencing your work?
I think right now I'm a lot into vintage military gear. As I said before the functional stuff is really interesting to me. It's influencing because it reminds me how to create something around a specific need.

How do you balance creativity with commerce?
I'm in charge of the creativity and my amazing partners (Marc Antoine and Christian) are in charge of the commercial side. It means that we can really focus on what we are good at.

What does design, style and; fashion mean to you?
Design is the key, it's everywhere, it's just about making something that made sense. Most of the people don't really know what's design is about. Design could really change our way to educate, to create in a much better way. Style is important too, it's more about having fun to me, create a story through products or clothes. It's also really interesting. Fashion is of course something big, but that's not my main thing.

On holiday, what do you miss most about your work?
The pressure!

Finally, do you wear glasses?

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