VerBien by Yves Béhar

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Industrial designer Yves Béhar of fuseproject has created a range of spectacles that will be distributed free to children in Mexico. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.

The VerBien ("see well") project is designed to overcome the stigma of wearing glasses and help the estimated half a million Mexican children with poor eyesight who enter the school system each year.

The glasses, produced by Mexican eyeglass manufacturer Augen, feature two-part plastic frames that are "almost unbreakable".

Here's some text from fuseproject:


SEE BETTER TO LEARN BETTER: YVES BÉHAR DESIGNS EYEWEAR FOR THE DEVELOPING WORLD

Yves Béhar and his fuseproject design team that created the One Laptop Per Child XO Laptop will  launch a new program in partnership with the Mexican Government to design and give away free eyeglasses to disadvantaged children in the states of Mexico on a yearly basis.

The glasses have been designed specifically for children, with a particular attention to the design increasing adoption and persistence by hanging the perception of being a handicap and stigma, a very real issue in Mexico. “Similar to the OLPC philosophy, I want to design products that are suited to the children’s specific needs, life and environment,” explains Béhar. “The children receiving these glasses need frames that are durable, ergonomic and have key customization elements like shape and colour that make wearing the glasses fun and personal.” From advanced plastics that are almost unbreakable and the lightest engineering plastics in existence,to the two‐part design that provides both a unique assembly system that simplifies logistics and means that  children can choose two‐colour frames, this eyewear is specifically re‐thought for children and  their lives. The glasses have been designed to be fun and fashionable, to avoid the children having any stigmas about wearing glasses.

The proven research behind this give away program has shown that many students’ grades drop dramatically during scholastic years due in large part to problems with their vision. 11% of children in classrooms were not learning simply because they could not read blackboards or books. The proportion of children in need of lenses at or above 0.75 correction can be as high as 60‐70% in some schools in poorer states such as Morellos, Sonora and Chiappas. Half a million new children with the need for corrective eyeglasses enter the school system every year in Mexico. The aim of “See Better to Learn Better” is to provide a solution to children in families that cannot afford the high cost of an eye exam and eyewear.

Yves Béhar designed a flexible collection of glasses using a unique construction system which not  only addresses the need for fit, durability and simple manufacturing, but also enables easy customization of the eyeglasses for individual  users. The top and the bottom of the frame is split in two halves, allowing for easy assembly of the lenses inside the frame without using a traditional heating process (which is a costly option in the field). These frame options are achieved through high-tech manufacturing located in Mexico, where the nose bridge is sonically welded, creating a connection between the top and bottom frame, after the easy insertion of the lenses (the ends of the frames remain open at this stage) and then the glasses are closed with a simple hinge screw.

This new construction of the frames provides children with unique choices of numerous colour and shape configurations for the eyewear frames. The design consists of five different frame options in three different sizes (for face and age variations), in seven different colours, resulting in many unique and iconic combinations. Children are able to pick colourful, unique versions of the glasses, and hence make them a point of pride rather than a visible handicap. "When kids choose for themselves what fits and looks unique to them, it completely changes the stigma of wearing glasses, they receive custom glasses that they feel they have designed and are truly personal to them," says Yves Béhar. The glasses are distributed by local and visiting optometrists employed by the organisation; they travel to the school classrooms, test the children, and then place the order with the factory. A couple of weeks later, the personalised glasses are given to the children in the schools, free of charge.

The new eyeglass designs give children a tool for learning and self-expression, and promote the altruistic cause to others by bringing greater visibility to the program. Discussions to expand the program to other countries and regions in need are taking place.

The manufacturing partner in the program, Augen, is based in Mexico and is the 10th largest producer of lenses in the world. Augen and Yves Béhar/fuseproject partnered in building a unique custom-made product for this cause. In the last 12 months, brand new injection machines, assembly and logistics were put in place in Ensenada to produce the glasses locally. Mass production of the glasses with the first phase being given away in April 2010 is underway. This partnership resulted in a 50% reduction in manufacturing cost from currently imported frames, a feat that will improve the viability of the program and support its expansion.

The visual identity and messaging development is another reflection of the mission and the design of the glasses. A unique book within an eyeglass shape was designed to guide providers and children through the selection process, as well as a new logo/identify both visualising the relationship between vision and education. Lastly the key message of the brand is "See Better to Learn Better" (Ver Bien Para Aprender Mejor) further cementing the vision behind the program.

"This project follows our philosophy that design should continue to make a difference beyond the commercial world, and that non-profits do need emotional appeal and efficient solutions just as much as for-profit companies. Design can make a tremendous difference and we believe this is a responsibility that the industrial profession carries: to bring transformative solutions." Yves Béhar


See also:

.

Reykjavik Eyes
spectacles
SIRE glasses
by Aekae
Clever Little Bag by Yves Béhar for Puma

Dezeen Book of Ideas out now!

Yves Béhar is included in our book, Dezeen Book of Ideas. Buy it now for just £12.

  • http://365daydesignchallenge.blogspot.com/ Andrei Sarusi

    Wow, really inspiring project! Congratulations
    Really well thought out design and manufacturing process.

  • http://kuwaitschool.blogspot.com Tom

    Great idea..!

    Hope it works…

    Tom

  • sluga

    great work

  • http://designplaygrounds.com Rodrigo Medina

    As a mexican I´m very proud that goverment implement this kind of projects thw whole design process looks awesome hope it really works so we can see more initiatives like this around.

  • http://www.paolalozano.com.mx Paola Lozano

    As a Mexican I can only say great project, congratulations!

  • Shawn

    Happy to read that this is happening. Is this funded by only the government or is it a non-profit project that runs of another form of funding?

  • Capstick

    I REALLY love this! A very good idea for everyone

  • tim

    Im happy a project like this is happening of course. I also have some real reservations:
    1) considering the real price of construction of the XO laptop vs their goals, I must ask: are these specs really cheaper than the standard, or is it just that they are subsidized that makes them cheap? I see that they have “reduced manufacturing costs” but this is not quite enough evidence. Why not just subsidize any pair of glasses than give a commission to one designer to design some intentionally cheap looking glasses…
    2) I find it hard to believe that these glasses will remove the stigma of wearing glasses. I think designers think that something that a cool European designer would wear is not necessarily the same thing that a little kid who wants to not get beat up for wearing glasses might choose to wear. The staged shots of color matched clothes + glasses are not quite evidence of kid acceptance. Its good that they are unbreakable though so when someone punches some half pink glasses wearing kid in the face, the glasses wont break.

  • eric

    not to sound stupid, but this is the kinda stuff that really gives me hope and makes me happy. i’m truly all for design for design’s sake, but somehow this is overall more worthwhile than another limited edition perfume bottle or some such thing. to top it all off, these kids look badass, which really, every kid deserves the chance to be.

  • bas

    These look great — and I wonder if there’s a similar program in the U.S. for adults!

  • david zhang

    Great idea, bad design.
    Had the designer paid any thought to the kids that would be wearing those eyeglasses instead of nurturing his ego, he wouldnt have made a product that’s saying: Hey! look at me! I’m wearing glasses! and they’re so gay!
    Does he know how many children wont be using those glasses cause they’re ashamed to?

    So sad that this great project was destroyed by another egomaniac designer.

  • Hans

    cool product cooler project :)

  • peh

    Finally a good project, that reaches people.

    After a that hillarious magnificent things, that we have seen from milan, that nobody will ever ever need or speak about in five days.

    Yves you rock!!

  • ree

    nice color

  • El Zebra

    i agree with those who think these glasses have been designed with an ego stroke in mind.

    the glasses look like something that would be popular among upper/middle class kids in europe and the u.s.
    the fashion aspects outweighs the glasses stigma aspect among this group.

    i think the design could’ve been simplified to LESSEN the stigma of kids that need glasses.

    good project. not so good outcome.

  • felix

    i’d wear them

    if they got a suitable celebrity to sport a pair then every kid would want them

    look what kanye west did for those louvre style glasses

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1599030336 Aide Garcia

    Hi,
    I just wanted to congratulate you for the outstanding job you have done for our kids in Mexico. I'm a Mexican American Optician and I'm totally in love with the whole project you created. Not only em I tuched by this because I'm an optician but also because of my nationality. In the name of the Mexican Kids we thank you Sr.
    Love XOXO
    Aide Garcia ABOC

  • http://coopervision.com/ Pete

    This is a really very nice project and the glasses being almost unbreakable is very good to. These glasses surely match the students. I hope other countries would follow this example. They give free notebooks, pencils, bags and shoes but this is a whole new idea which concentrates on the eye health of students. Very good indeed.

  • Domilly

    I dont want to be Mr Buzz Kill, but agree with the poster above, why not subsidise spectacles from a range for children, that way children are not obviously wearing the 'special' glasses – as a glasses wearer I sympathise, people want to wear glasses that suit them and feel comfortable. However this system unifies school glasses wearing into a uniform which has its merits.