SIRE glasses by Aekae


Zurich and London designers Aekae have designed a collection of glasses made of water buffalo horns.

The range of eyewear, called SIRE, consists of three pairs of sunglasses and three pairs of correctional frames.

Each piece is made of several thin layers of horn, which are laid in alternate directions to increase stability.

The range is manufactured by Swisshorn Eyewear and is being shown at the SILMO Eyewear and Optics Exhibition in Paris this week.

Photos are by Nadine Ottawa.

Here's some more information from Aekae:


SIRE handmade natural eyewear

In the ancient days a sire was chosen for his character and skill.
The SIRE collection takes this tradition into the future, using only the finest materials and the best manufacturing techniques to create exclusive optics with outstanding character.

Each single piece of eyewear is handcrafted out of natural horn in a collaboration between aekae and Swisshorn.

aekae's aim to introduce new ideas into the very traditional market of natural horn optics is visible in the design: the open nose part involves a new construction and a strong visual element. The experience and knowledge of the small manufacturing company Swisshorn has gone in to numerous prototypes in the past two years. Finally, the SIRE collection of three sunglass- and three correctional frames is beeing presented for the first time in Paris from the 17th to the 19th of September at SILMO.

manufacturing process:

Each SIRE natural horn spectacle consists of up to seven thin layers of horn. The core plates of horn fibers run in opposite directions known as the ”Triplex Safety System”, which is considered to offer the highest standards in quality, stability and resistance to deformation. The only waste in the production are horn splinters, which serve as natural plant nutrition. At the end of the manufacturing process every frame is polished carefully by hand, to make the natural horn structure visible.

about natural horn:

The water buffalo is a domesticated animal throughout Asia, comparable to our cattle. It is normally trained to plow and harvest fields, and is vital in the rice plantations. Besides also supplying milk and leather, the horns, which can reach two meters in length, are later used for exclusive natural products.

SIRE spectacles are hand crafted into exquisite eyewear from this raw material. Only a small part of it can actually be used to produce an eyeglass frame.
Our manufacturer Swisshorn selects only the finest horn pieces, and continues to craft them into beautiful horn spectacles. Due to the characteristic patterns and colors of the raw horn, each product is always a unique piece. It takes the best and most experienced craftsmen in this field to create a SIRE frame.

Posted on Friday September 18th 2009 at 12:13 pm by Sarah Housley. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • cordial

    animal horns!? get this OFFFFF!!!!

  • m

    Wauw, I very much appreciate to see an article in a branch of design that involves such a high level of craftmanship. Fascinating

  • Amanda

    nice design, but
    must be like wear a fur coat.

  • Rotoscoper

    Hey cordial – animal products are renewable. What’s the problem?

  • These glasses are impeccable designed and crafted. The Buffalo horn also gives it a beautiful depth that artificial plastics just cant emulate.

  • this is stunning !I love it

  • amsam

    I love things that are simultaneously fabulous and disturbing. Ethically this is no different than leather, but it sure feels different. Feels a bit like wearing a necklace made from someone’s grandmother’s knuckles.

  • Carnivore

    Its a bit Kanye but very nice idea.

  • GBUK

    @Cordial: at first I had the same kind of distressed reaction, then I read the part where it talks about the fact that the water buffalo are domesticated and their horns most propably sourced when the beast is dead from natural death after providing milk and plowing help…

    beautiful design!

  • i love to see people using renewable resourses. why waste such an abundant byproduct. i too greatly appreciate and admire the level of craftmanship. it’s a product meant to last a life time both in quality and enduring design. kudos.

  • Great use of fine natural materials. Beautiful and desirable brand.

  • dylan

    hip retro shapes made with luxury materials. big deal.

    first explain to me why the f*ck I need to wear water buffalo on my face.

    sean: “it’s a product meant to last a life time both in quality and enduring design. kudos.”

    lets count the months before these shapes go out of style. life time? forget about it.

  • This material catches light in a very nice way, it looks waxy, smooth and luxurious. With these natural colors and conservative shape, it is very close to the archetypal form for glasses frames, yet its hollow bridge gives it a modern and up to date look. Well done.

  • tmac

    you can come out with a line of ivory glasses next!

    ooooo and wouldn’t panda fur on the exterior look nice?

  • Tina Hovsepian

    I think it is ugly and rude, comon dezeen what were you thinking?

  • Bradley

    Beautiful execution of a very clean design . . . .

    And just so everyone can calm down, water buffalo DO in fact shed their horns.

  • Booh

    I don’t quite like the fact that they used water buffalo horns. I think it would have been more interesting to use a regional materials to drive that “sustainable” idea- but i’m pretty happy with the final product. Bravo

  • Thank you Bradley, for pointing out the ignorance of the majority of the people freaking out about the use of an animal product. Even if they didn’t fall off what is the problem with using an animal byproduct. All of you upset or outrage at the idea better not be eating chicken, have leather shoes, or use or have anything that contains animal products. Glues, gelatin, make-up, just to throw out a couple and the list is huge. And rightfully so, why use an animal just to provide you with your Big Mac.

    Dylan if you don’t want to wear water buffalo then don’t. I could just as easily ask why do I need to wear plastic on my face? Do you know the environmental cost of using plastics?

    And last Dylan, design like history repeats itself, as you said right at the beginning of your statement, “hip retro shapes.” So you admitted that this is a repeating style. I agree that in time (a few years) these will once again be out, but would argue that someday it will once again be retro. There are companies today that sell old glasses that were quality made and designed and have lasted long even to have a second life. So I am sorry but you are wrong.

  • mark burnham

    it brings up the question: which is more ethical- animal horns or fossil oil based plastics? what if this material wasn’t sourced ‘ethically’?

    anyway, no denying the beauty of the material. i wouldn’t wear that particular design but i like the look.

  • Save the whales, kill the buffaloes!

  • WillM

    Touche Sean.

    I was going to remark on the righteousness and ignorance of people commenting on this post but then Bradley and Sean’s posts did the job for me. Niice. Questions though; why do people follow the link on products they dont like/approve of?

    I mean, people don’t need to know “you” think eye glasses made of horn are “sooo lame.” why post?
    Additionally, rather than posting “shame on you Dezeen!” posts…email the complaint don’t post it.
    This way when i read through the comments i don’t have to sift through your drivel and can instead enjoy the often useful and insightful comments made by more objective posters.



  • requiredname

    who the hell would wear these glasses ?? ya i love my ski goggles so much ill get perscription ones!

  • People should stop being hypocrites and just appreciate this gorgeous design.

  • Utku

    At least the buffalo horns were used for a beautiful design.

  • Oioiman

    Superb design and utilization of a natural product. That said, I tire of the minset of the crowd screaming bloody murder about the usage of water buffalo horns. This is the same crowd screaming for the “greening” of most product production, bleating on and on about globa warming- (OOOPS global CLIMATE CHANGE, now that the sunspot activity has subsided and temperatures are going down) the elimination of synthetics, and many times demanding a substantial de-industrialiaztion of the last 300 + years. Well, boys and girls, if you follow this hyprocrisy-laden paradigm, do you thnik you will arrive at? Yess-a, 300 year old and older usage of NATURAL resources such as water buffaflo, an animal who the older it gets, grows a larger horn. Please, spare me your pontifications, and but a logic book, for your arguments do not hold up to even the most cursory of inspections. True Luddites would welcome this base material.

  • Sr_Chipicao

    After reading the designer’s text, and with a little thinking, i like it! The fact is buffalos are procreating regularly, and they’re dead when extracting the
    horns is in fact better than encouraging the use of plastics anywhere.

    The fact that they’re made by skilled craftmen, makes it more expensive, (which in this case it’s good) and employ’s workers who’s technique is being forgotten.

    Just one thing worrying me: If this becames fashion, alive buffalo’s will their horns being removed against their will, exhaustively, and skilled craftsman will lose their jobs que not-so-skilled chinese or indian slaves!

  • sydb

    i almost had a heart attack when i saw this on the web… but wen i read through it it wasnt so bad… beautiful glasses and shape.

  • Knee jerkers read this……….. .
    The horn is used once the animal has passed!
    Not really like skinning a Mink is it!!

  • Great use of a natural product which would otherwise just decompose into dust, IMO. I love animals too, so believe me when I first visited SIRE's website I was shocked; then I realized they used it after the buffalo is deceased. Or so they say ;)

    The greatest aspect to the glasses though is the handmade craftsmanship which makes every pair unique. I saw the process on SIRE's gallery and it's pretty damn impressive. They've gotta be $$$ I bet. Well I do have a friend in Switzerland so I'll ask him how much they are. =)