Ron Arad 3D-printed glasses interview

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

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.