Interview with Yasushi Suzuki, SOLID BLUE/HUSKY NOISE designer
Above: Yasushi Suzuki, designer of Bauhaus Co. Ltd.
EYEWEAR CULTURE is very delighted to be able to hold an interview with Yasushi Suzuki from Bauhaus Co. Ltd.(hereinafter referred to as "BAUHAUS"), the designer of brands SOLID BLUE and HUSKY NOISE that are both designed and made in Japan.
Please tell us how you have become the designer of brands SOLID BLUE and HUSKY NOISE.
I joined BAUHAUS in 2014. Before that, I had a career in the music industry and after that, I began working in the optical industry in another company for about 10 years, where I was involved in product development.
In terms of brands SOLID BLUE and HUSKY NOISE, after joining the company, rather than working immediately as the designer, I gradually took over these projects while juggling various responsibilities, including working as the sales representative. In these 5 to 6 years, I have been in charge of various aspects of the products, such as planning, design, production management, and quality control.
Is it correct to imagine that the eyewear you plan becomes the actual product?
Or are there other phases leading to product development?
Sometimes I come up with a concept like "I want to create something like this" and other times, products are born from the input of the sales staff who say, "We need a product like this". After gathering and consolidating various opinions, I translate them into drawings. Then, we discuss them internally, narrow down ideas and make some adjustments. Only a handful of the ideas planned eventually become actual products. While I push for those ideas I firmly believe in, I also consider the team's opinions and proceed accordingly.
I didn’t originally study design, nor did I attend a design school. I had some interest in it, so I dabbled in design software as a hobby, creating things like flyers for music events and some simple documents. After graduating from a university in Tokyo, I worked in the music industry, but due to family circumstances, I returned home and entered the optical industry. I was in my late 20s at the time, and from there, I learned about the manufacturing process of eyewear and gradually picked up skills in eyewear design. Basically, I learned on the job while working.
I had a desire to create things. While working in a record company doing promotional work, I had a strong desire not only to promote good music but also to create it. Although I wasn’t an artist myself, I wanted to take part in producing music that could move people's hearts. In that sense, I've always had the desire to create things and contribute to people and society.
Above: Image of how SOLID BLUE and HUSKY NOISE frames are designed
It was indeed a transition from the music industry to becoming an eyewear designer.
Are there eyewear designs inspired from music?
I didn't consciously imagine designs directly inspired by music, but there was a time when I gave some of the models a sort of theme song during the planning phase. I'd associate certain models with specific songs, like "this pair goes with that song". I often used bittersweet kind of soul music and rhythm and blues music as theme songs for certain models (laughs). Sometimes, when deciding on colours or sketching out lenses shapes, I'd have that song playing in the background. Those were interesting times.
How do you come up with your designs?
Do you sit in front of your desk to design?
For fine design adjustments or when working on the lenses shapes, yes, I do sit at my desk. But fundamentally, it's not like I say, "Alright, time to design!" and start designing. I do that when there are deadlines though(laughs).
Due to the schedule and the need to work backward from the release date, there are various deadlines that have to be met. Especially when it comes to choosing the colours, it can be a long process of continuous contemplation. As the deadline approaches, you can find me sitting at my desk, rubbing my head while working on it (laughs). In terms of design ideas or overall concepts, they often come to me spontaneously during daily life. They pop up when I am just daydreaming. Sometimes, ideas come to me when I'm relaxing in a sauna, jogging, or taking a walk.
Above: Brand image of brand HUSKY NOISE
Brand SOLID BLUE targets male customers, whereas brand HUSKY NOISE targets female customers.
Could you share your approach to designing for each brand?
Surprisingly, I come up with more ideas for HUSKY NOISE. When it comes to SOLID BLUE, I can proactively think about what I would like to wear and find it relatively easier to come up with designs.
Simplicity is one of HUSKY NOISE’s concepts, so we don't create overly fancy lenses shapes, but even within that framework, there are numerous design variations for the shapes. I tend to make more sketches for HUSKY NOISE, saying “I want it to be more like this…”. In the end, I choose from more options. Although HUSKY NOISE is not usually what I wear (laughs).
For both brands, one of the concepts is “simplicity” so it can be challenging to create something that stands out from the rest. However, there are always unique elements that make them different from others, and I believe there are people seeking for that. For clothing and accessories also, there are times when you can't find exactly what you want. Since eyewear offers fewer choices than other products, I want to create something that makes people say, "This is exactly what I have been looking for!".
We hear about SDGs in Japan more and more frequently these days.
Please let us know if there are anything you are considering about sustainability as a designer.
Mass waste is a significant issue in the fashion industry, and as someone involved in manufacturing products, I aim to reduce unnecessary waste in both products and the manufacturing process. I also strive to create products that can be used for a long time. Recently, we've been using materials with lower environmental impact.
For example, even materials like acetate originally come from plant-derived sources, such as pulp, making them environmentally friendly materials. However, we choose acetates with altered plasticizers and increased biodegradability, making them easier to return to the soil.
One problem is that there are limited options for materials. I believe more options will become available in the future, but for now, we have to choose from a limited range of materials. This is a little bit of a concern at this stage.
We're also working on switching to eco-friendly materials for demo lenses and nose pads. We will use biomass plastics made by mixing plant-derived materials like corn starch, resulting in reduced carbon dioxide emissions during manufacturing.
Although demo lenses are typically discarded, they are essential for frames to maintain their shape. So, if they have to be thrown away, we want to use eco-friendly options. Although they have certain limitations, like not being able to have coatings on the surface or mix in antistatic agents, we will prioritize eco-friendly materials whenever possible.
For the nose pads, we are considering a shift to 100% plant-derived polylactic acid pads. These materials have been around for some time, but they lacked transparency, which made us hesitate to use them. However, they have been improved recently. They are environmentally friendly, transparent, have high antibacterial properties, and are skin-friendly due to their mild acidity. Truly wonderful pads. Furthermore, we are also exploring the use of recycled titanium for metal materials.
In the future, we plan to adopt such materials to the extent possible in the products we will release. However, these materials tend to be more expensive, which poses challenges in setting the retail price. Nevertheless, we aim to use them while gaining the understanding of our customers.
Above: Yasushi Suzuki describing HUSKY NOISE frames and designs with enthusiasm
We hear the term "genderless" more often in Japan.
From your perspective who designs eyewear for both men and women, are there are any current or potential changes in designs of eyewear that men or women would like to wear in Japan?
Regarding SOLID BLUE and HUSKY NOISE, they are truly becoming more genderless. When I talk to shop ownders, I hear many stories about men buying HUSKY NOISE products and women purchasing SOLID BLUE products. It seems that customers' thought processes are becoming more genderless as well.
In our product development, we try to incorporate the current societal trends to some extent, which might be reflected in our products. Although we still broadly categorize our products as either for men or women, the conscious effort to create designs that are distinctly masculine or feminine has been faded. However, there is a practical consideration to keep in mind. Typically, men have larger physical sizes, including their faces. Hence, it's natural that SOLID BLUE frames are larger in size, while HUSKY NOISE frames are smaller. We are mindful of this difference in sizes.
While we are not designing intentionally, there are some SOLID BLUE models that women tend to purchase more frequently(Model S-223). Conversely, we have some male staff members who wear HUSKY NOISE frames.
Above: SOLID BLUE Model S-223 is a highly popular design among female users
For the last question, please tell us your most favorite frame from BAUHAUS collections.
It is difficult to choose just one, but personally, I really love this shade of grey that's almost close to black. However, it might not look very photogenic (laughs). (HUSKY NOISE Model H-194 Col.Light Black/Gold)
H-193 and H-194 models from HUSKY NOISE are metal frames that are designed with refined bicolours. The end pieces and the temples are characterized by its roundness. The frames are emphasized by their colours and shapes. For eyewear, when you use metal for these parts, they tend to become somewhat flat, and some sharpness tend to come out. However, with these models, we have managed to create a design that incorporates metal but with a soft and rounded touch.
Speaking of the colours, the parts that appears black is not entirely a black tone. It is a shade of grey that is close to black, it’s a dark grey. We call them light black. The other parts are in gold colour, but they are actually in white gold colour. We didn't want the eyewear to stand out too much when they are worn, so we chose colours that do not sharply contrast each other. We combined light and subtle gold with a grey closer to black, creating a harmonious and slightly softer overall appearance.
Above: HUSKY NOISE Model H-194 Col. Light Black/Gold is characterized by its soft and rounded features for the end pieces and temples
Below: HUSKY NOISE Model H-193 Col. Red/Gold
Above: Tomohiro Hamano, BAUHAUS Sales Representative(Left), and Yasushi Suzuki, the designer of BAUHAUS(Right)
Eyewear Crafted by Meister
An eyewear designer who understands both "resources" and "techniques" to the core completes the "designs", and with the experienced "skills" of craftsmen(Meisters), carefully selected materials are fashioned into a single pair of glasses.
Emphasizing subtle decorations without extravagance, continuing the workmanship of the Meister, dedicated to the art of craftsmanship. (From Bauhaus Co., Ltd. Website)
For further information on the brands, please click HERE (HAUSKA TAVATA Website)