Shan’s SILMO Paris Diary
Optik Editor Shan Khan travelled to the City of Light to get caught up on the latest trends in eyewear design, technology and manufacturing. Here is her SILMO Paris Diary!
A source of inspiration and progress, the SILMO Paris has been influencing the optical world for more than 50 years. The 2022 forum featured more than 735 exhibitors across a diverse range of categories including smart and connected machines and glasses, children’s eyewear, luxury frames, sport frames, and lens and eyewear materials.
Welcome to Paris!
It’s so exciting to be amid the hustle and bustle of the fabulous French capital, surrounded by fashion, grace and elegance. I am in my element – energized to be here and filled with anticipation for this iconic and inspiring event.
The doors of SILMO Paris open into a calm and serene space. Ushers dressed in 1940s-style bellhop uniforms, along with stylishly- dressed models in beautiful yellow leather skirts are there to happily greet and direct me. Walking into the vast expo space is like a dream come true for an optical nerd like me, with large exhibit halls filled with spectacular designs and innovations.
Voting for the SILMO d’Or awards start today with winners announced tomorrow night. I’m so excited to be asked to judge the nominees – what a fantastic experience. There are literally hundreds of independent designers here – it’s hard to take it all in.
New silicone artwork frames by Morfo Eyewear of Italy catch my attention. The poetry is in the material here, with the mineral substance taking on unpredictable shapes and colours.
Custom “bespoke” frames are hot. Designers like Nina Mur offer up an old-style creativity, an art form that has almost been forgotten. It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling to see these designs.
A lot of manufacturers are also devoting more resources to developing new shapes, styling and colours for children’s frames. I’m thrilled to chat with Eyelet designer Mr. Yang about some of the key trends in eyewear for kids.
The SILMO Trends Forum highlights some of the product and design themes we can expect to see in the coming months. Here they are:
- Combination (unlimited designs) – Composite frames – in metal and plastic – assert their “streamlined sophistication” with essential shapes.
- Big Brown – Black has not disappeared, of course. However, intense dark browns are taking over, offering a variety of rich tones.
- Bulky – Glasses with nothing to hide, eager to grab centre stage, with substantial proportions that can be quite exaggerated. A wide array of materials, thickness and curves steal the show for an impressive look.
- Enlightened Classics – This concept takes a new perspective of familiar eyewear shapes, redesigning and resizing them to bring a fun touch and a stylistic twist that reaches outside the box, breaking with the established codes while maintaining a certain elegance.
There’s also lots of opportunity for professional development, with the show addressing two current issues: myopia and the importance of good vision in an ageing population. Experts shared their research and shed light on these two broad themes. The SILMO Next forum looked at how technology can revolutionize the optical and eyewear sector, including a workshop about the emergence of the Metaverse in the optical world.
I end the day exhausted but energized and ready to take in more of the city of light.
It’s SILMO d’Or Awards Day
Returning to the event space on Sunday, it’s nice to be able to check in with our independent Canadian eyewear designers, shining as they always do.
The Rapp booth is very busy, with many interested visitors.
Spectacle Eyeworks was proudly displaying a stunning new collection. I was flattered to be introduced to two new namesake frames by creator Mehran Baghaie, the “Shan,” inspired by yours truly, and “Wendy,” named for Wendy Buchanan, Optician and Image consultant, founder of Perceptions Eyewear in Mississauga.
Speaking of Wendy, I was so proud to see her nominated for the International Optician of the Year Award. Nominees were evaluated based on criteria including professionalism, communication skills, innovation, creativity and commitment to the profession. It was a tight race for our Canadian nominee against opticians from three other countries, with the award going to Grant Hannaford of Australia. Congratulations to Grant!
Later in the day, the SILMO d’Or awards were announced. Check out the rundown of the winners HERE.
After a few invigorating days at SILMO, I leave Paris feeling both excited and overwhelmed by the sheer scale and spectacle of this amazing show. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to absorb the extraordinary creativity and energy on display, and to meet with new and old friends in this inspiring atmosphere. The experience has left me feeling extremely optimistic about the future of our industry and our incredible potential. I can’t wait to return — until we meet again!