Rapp Eyewear is a small independent company in Toronto. They design and manufacture limited collections of bespoke hand-finished eyeglasses, which they wholesale to a small number of hand-picked optical shops throughout the world, as well as in their own store.
The frames are produced twice a year in limited runs of 20 to 30 kits. Once the collection sells out, it is never repeated thus ensuring that those who purchase the frames are in a unique position to be wearing a truly limited edition piece.
One of the main reasons they have decided to offer the collection in this way is to keep true the notion of individual identity and to allow the consumer to purchase an item which is genuinely unique in a world of mass-produced luxury items.
Their philosophy of design hinges on two main principles, those of functionality and imagination. Because they produce an item which is, in essence, a prosthetic device, it must be functional – fit well, work with many different prescriptions and suit many different people. However, they also work very hard to make sure that the frames they design and manufacture are beautiful, both in design and execution. In this way, colour, finishing and small details become extremely important.
Rapp draws inspiration for their design from cultural sources – art, music, film – something as basic as a piece of vibrantly coloured paper or a particularly beautiful painting, or the colour of a blouse can inspire and influence the collection
What started out as a technical manufacturing limitation, became Rapp Eyewear’s signature look. Rapp Eyewear is entirely hand finished and is a combination of raw titanium and Italian acetate. Their fronts are finished by hand with extremely crisp, well-defined edges and in a combination of glossy and matt polish. This style of finishing truly shows off the shape of their frames. This level of finish is unheard of in a world of mass production, mass finishing machines.
Partly because they are a family-run business and partly because this seems to be the most organic way to create the collections, the three principals in the company decide on the new collections in a collaborative way.
Shilo Rapp is the company’s head designer and is also responsible for the technical aspects of production. Shilo comes to frame design naturally, as he was first introduced to the optical world very early. Shilo began his optical career in his father’s shop at the age of 14. He is also a trained and accomplished goldsmith.
Mel Rapp is the founder of Rapp Optical and the original designer for Rapp Eyewear, when it was first founded 16 years ago. At this point, Mel works as a technical adviser frame production, as well as concentrating on establishing the infrastructure for the fledgling business. Several years ago, Mel fell in love with metaphor and later, with the accordion; he claims his life is irrevocably transformed by the glorious sounds of both.
Julia Rapp’s duties include working closely with Shilo to edit the existing frame designs into each international release; she is also responsible for choosing the colour palette of each new collection. When not working at the factory – Rapp Eyewear, or the shop – Rapp Optical, Julia is engrossed in a 19th or 20th century Russian novel or poem.
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