Dezeen and MINI World Tour: designer Ron Arad launched a range of 3D printed eyewear in Milan earlier this month. In this movie he discusses his pioneering 3D printing experiments in 2000 and his views on the technology today.

The glasses feature one-piece frames of printed polyamide with flexible joints instead of hinges. "It's the first pair of glasses that I know about that is one component," says Arad. "It's monolithic."

"It's the first pair of glasses that is one component"

The frames are the latest concept designed by Arad for new brand pq eyewear, of which he is co-founder. Yet he says the fact that they're printed is uninteresting: "Who cares?" he says. "What we care about is does it work well? Does [printing] give you freedom to do things you can't in other techniques? Not the fact that it's printed."

Arad was an early pioneer of 3D printing as a way of making finished products rather than prototypes. His 2000 show Not Made by Hand, Not Made in China, which featured lights, jewellery and vases, was several years ahead of other designers' experiments in with a technology that at the time was called "rapid prototyping".

"It's the first pair of glasses that is one component"

"There was a lot of excitement in the technology," says Arad. "It was obvious that it would be embraced by lots of people, and then that technology would be less exciting. You could do more exciting things but the technology would be, and should be, taken for granted."

Arad compares the one-piece construction of the printed eyewear with the multi-component, hand-assembled A-Frame glasses he recently designed for pq.

"It's the first pair of glasses that is one component"

"If you ask my studio to send you a movie of how say [the A-Frame] glasses are made you'll see there's so much manual work around it and so much fiddling," says Arad, explaining that the glasses require a skilled workforce to assemble. "I don't want to take the jobs from these people, but [printing] is a different way of doing something."

Arad helped come up with the pq logo and brand name, which refers to the spectacle-like forms of the letters p and q. "It's a new brand that we started from the ground up," Arad explains. "We had to invent a name for a brand of eyewear, we had to do the logo. [It's called] pq because when you write p and q you draw glasses, and they are palindromic, so you can look at it from [the other side]."

"It's the first pair of glasses that is one component"

The glasses are featured in Print Shift, our one-off, print-on-demand magazine about 3D printing.

The products were launched at luxury eyewear store Punto Ottico in Milan during Milan design week. We travelled to the opening in our MINI Cooper S Paceman. See more Dezeen and MINI World Tour reports from Milan.

The music featured is a track called Where are Your People? by We Have Band, a UK-based electronic act who played at the MINI Paceman Garage in Milan.

  • bonsaiman

    “It’s the first pair of glasses that I know about that is one component”.

    @Mr. Arad: No it’s not. Please do some research on 1960s’ spectacle design, not to mention its revival in the 1980s.

    • Easy there, bonsaiman; your premise is erroneous unless you can get inside his head; the key phrase is “that I know about”, which is conveniently left out of the title of the piece.

      • beatrice

        Exactly. Typically ego-centric attitude.

        A. They are ugly.

        B. He failed to notice that the glasses are made in three pieces, or did they print the lenses?

        C. Here are some frames that are single piece parts: http://safety.com.sg/pds/node/910

        D. Head needs to remove from own backside to prevent suffocation.

        E. I prefer the MDF spectacles CNC cut ages ago.

      • bonsaiman

        You are right. But what I wrote has also a key word: research. That’s how I know about the designs from other periods. Historical research is mandatory to design practice and its main goal is to fill in the gaps in “that I know about”.

        • beatrice

          He’s one of the world’s most established designers and you credit him with this pathetic excuse? You think he’s never seen this before or perhaps he jotted out a design and now needs to back it up with a bit of bumpf.


          It’s self elevating grandiose PR twaddle and you’re a fool if you missed it.

  • Harry

    The lenses don’t appear to be 3D printed, just the frames. Therefore the glasses comprise of THREE components surely?

  • Will

    Erm… Apart from the fact these are brightly coloured, one component, and have been 3D printed, aren’t they just Timmy Mallet sunnies from Boots?

  • David

    Looks like three to me. Maybe he should learn to count the lenses.

  • Parizi

    It is exciting that we can produce one component glasses but don’t we think there is a REASON for all of these elements such as: screws, arms, to keep these glasses a unique object/design?

    So what does happen if I drop mine? I have to go and buy a new pair? How can I fix it? And many more questions I don’t get with this new way of making?

    Are we making and then post rationalising these days?!

  • wpgmb

    I just came here for the music.

  • beatrice

    Did he imagine that he was actually the first person to think and make this? I didn’t research it, but I can just guess it’s been done before. And, oh look! One Google search and I’m right! Such arrogance.

  • 4reivax

    I got these ones a couple of years ago… you don’t need to go back to the 60s and 80s Ron!

    Parizi, these ones are made of some kind of elastomer, you can drop them as much as you want, hahaha… and come with 2 sets of lenses (faded and plain dark): http://www.alerodesign.com/gallery/dropcollection

  • hugo

    I think they’re cool.

  • OPBeast

    I think everyone here is missing the point. And that is, that this dude’s hat is amazing! How is no one jumping on this!

  • Joe

    Ron Arad is a mad dog. He can’t be tamed and he doesn’t care what you think.

  • Nice brand name! In French PQ is slang for toilet paper.

  • John

    Each one of you is trying to be smarter.

    A There are no 3D printed frames made in one piece

    B Of course the lenses cannot be printed, you cannot print anything with clear vision

    C Why is no one referring to this genius hinge that allows the frames to be folded

    D The way these designs are made is something that you can only print in 3D, what’s the point in printing it if you are using screws and metal hinges!

  • jon

    Would love to see the Mornington Crescent ones.