‘I perceive that the eyewear I create – solely by hand – as sculptures… I do not feel like I own an eyewear brand, but rather a way to create and to experiment with materials’; Elisabeth Leau, the Deep Shallow Exposition designer, told me a Saturday evening when we met at her studio for a samples sales event. Walking down the stairs, you could immediately spot her in total white look, identical to the ambient pureness of her studio that resembled more of a gallery.
| A short narrative by Anna Baniora |
Upon entry, I am suddenly greeted by a huge pair of decorative sunglasses settling the visitor into the analogous mood. Moving to the center, surrounded by white-washed walls decorated with big stickers depicting her designs, I stumble across a specially-designed stand featuring all the range of sun glasses. Moving along the gallery, I arrive at a small atrium where the bar was offering exceptional cocktails. People were trying on the sunglasses, drinking cocktails and shooting some photos.
The designer Elisabeth Leau, with her cropped blonde hairstyle and restless nature, was in the spotlight. Both dynamic and sweet, she exudes the energy of an inspirational artist always eager to create. After studying Architecture at Central St. Martins, London and experimenting for a couple of years in artistic projects, she suddenly decided that she could no longer be kept away from her birthplace, Athens, a city founded on antithesis.
‘I was intrigued by the fact that I could be in the center of this vibrant city, albeit unkempt and controversial, and in one hour be near the sea at the temple of Poseidon in Sounio.’
Therefore, she left her life in the alternative East London neighborhood, returned home and started making sunglasses for her and her friends without thinking twice – an interest very familiar to her since adolescence, as her grandfather owned a major sunglasses factory established in the 40s in Athens.
‘I grew up surrounded by sunglasses made from ‘tartaruga’. I was so influenced by this material that I used it, instead of plexiglass, for the architectural models of my projects at the University, while driving my professors crazy. Can you imagine that?’
Nowadays, Elisabeth Leau spends almost two weeks on each pair of Deep Shallow Exposition eyewear, making every production stage completely by hand: Cellulose Acetate, a biodegradable material – a polymer of vegetal origin coming from cotton linters and wood pulp – is used as a raw material for her creations sourced from the renowned Italian manufacturer Mazzuchelli. It is a very flexible substance when heated and really delightful to work with. Once the glasses are ready, this material has the capability to adjust to the shapes of the faces they adorn.
‘My desire is to see the results of my creations as soon as possible and to be a part of the process from the beginning until the end. That’s why I could not practice as an architect burdened by time. But my love for the different forms and shapes that I get inspired from is a result of my studies.’
‘I like the exclusivity and the limited edition of my collections, because I believe eyewear must be as unique as the person who wears them. That is the magic of the process and the result. I dislike mass production and I am about to offer a custom – made service for my clients’.