Radhika Dhuru November 5, 2015

Earlier this year, Materialise and eyewear specialist Hoet Design Studio launched the 3D-printed Cabrio collection. Since then, Materialise and Hoet joined hands again for a collaboration with SEIKO for the SEIKO Xchanger collection of sports eyewear – which won the Silmo d’Or award last month. Having set the bar up high, Materialise and Hoet are back with all-new frames, featuring all-new innovations including the world’s first 3D-printed adjustable temple system, to expand the 3D-printed Cabrio collection. Bieke Hoet, owner of the Hoet Design Studio, had a chat with us about where all this is heading for the eyewear world.

What was your approach to the design of the 3D-printed Cabrio collection? How does your design approach change when the frames are going to be 3D-printed?

Understanding technology and material is crucial in order to determine form. So yes, the start of a new design for a 3D print is different. To me, a good design is like a good meal: when all the flavors come together and create a new experience. For product design, take the ingredients to be material, form, and technology. When these three are in harmony, you get a new experience with added value. Each one of these separately or together can be inspiring and create the foundation for a new design. I am a cook and I aim for the 4 stars.

Now that Cabrio is growing, what are your dreams for the collection?

Innovation is my mission statement. My challenge is to match it with the core value of this collection which aims to be as streamlined like a car, drawn with the precision of eyeliner. This collection differentiates itself by the use of new materials and techniques which creates endless freedom for design and style. This makes this young collection unique in its segment. Design is the basis for these affordable and yet very comfortable sunglasses with a sporty look.

What trends do you see in eyewear design today? How do you use 3D Printing to advance them?

I see three directions in eyewear trends today: designers who experiment with new materials using traditional production technologies; designers who go back to handcrafted frames using wood and buffalo horn; and designers who combine new technologies with new materials, like using 3D Printing. I see myself in this last category because I believe this new trend not only offers new possibilities in eyewear design but is a game changer that effects the complete business. I believe it offers a better future for opticians and the optical world in general.

As a spectacles-wearer, which innovation from the new models is likely to make you happiest?

Finding a way to make the temples adjustable makes me the happiest because it is a result of pushing the boundaries of the material and technology towards a new added value which was not possible before. The new Cabrio frames have the world’s first adjustable 3D-printed temple system. I’m also very proud of the open texture of the DS4 – E model, which can only be created by 3D Printing, and results in a new eyewear design never seen before.

A woven 3D-printed structure keeps this Hoet Cabrio DS4 frame lightweight and unique
A woven 3D-printed structure keeps this Hoet Cabrio DS4 frame lightweight and unique

For designers now entering 3D Printing, what would be your advice?

Eliminate sheet metal or any other production starting from sheets. Start to think like nature. How the material can grow in any direction keeping in mind the different material properties.

What do you consider the defining characteristic of your collaboration with Materialise?

As a designer, it is important to have a manufacturing partner that understands your design and delivers a distinct quality. Materialise sets very high standards of quality and is only happy when these standards are reached. Factors such as surface roughness, color stability, and tolerances are controlled in-house. Any deviation from the original design is spotted immediately and handled accordingly. Having a lot of experience with traditional eyewear production and suppliers, I know this approach is precious and to be cherished.

The Cabrio Collection is available at Hoet Eyewear Shops in Belgium and at select independently-owned optical shops worldwide. Click here to find the shop nearest you.

All images by Negin Sadeghi