Frame design competition winner: Maria Nava

Do you ever wonder how spectacle frames are designed? Students at the Royal College of Art have a chance to take part in an exciting design competition each year, and the winning frames are displayed at the eyewear industry’s trade show, 100% Optical. Read on to meet this year’s winner.

What encouraged you to enter the competition and design your first glasses?

I was always  interested in accessory design and the product development process behind it. Coming from an Animation and Fashion design background, I thought this would be a good opportunity to explore several making processes (3D printing, laser cutting, CNC machining) learning how traditional glasses are made and how these processes could be pushed in different directions. 

What were the challenges of designing a pair of specs?

The main challenges were finding the right fit and materials. Not everyone’s face and head are the same and trying to make a universal model that in my case interacts not only with the temples and eyes, but also nose, ears and head shape was not easy. Also the combination of materials, for example acetate and acrylic have different melting points and finding a middle range in order to be able to shape them was tricky. Another challenge was painting and finishing treatments, each material reacts differently.  

What did you enjoy about the process?

The challenge. I learnt a lot about making processes and I really enjoyed how open the brief for this project was. It allowed us to expand and tailor it to our interests.

Would you consider designing more frames in the future?

Yes, I’m currently exploring the combination of eyewear and headpieces for a project I’m working on.

Want to know more about courses that cover spectacle frame design? You can follow the RCA FAME course on Instagram.