Brother and Sister. From Venezuela to Italy, passing through the fascinating Northern Europe, the warm and sunny Spain and the strict Switzerland. Contaminations, studies, training, passion.
And a dive into the universe of eyewear, a field where they created a brand that speaks of art, uniqueness and innovation. Valentina and Gabriel Hernandez present us Portrait Eyewear through words and images.
1) First of all … What’s Portrait Eyewear?
Valentina: Portrait is a brand of handmade glasses, created by myself and my brother Gabriel in Italy with the aim of resuming what is genuine craftsmanship, and then giving to it a new spirit, a contemporary design. It’s a brand which is very influenced by contemporary art in its identity.
It’s called Portrait because it is also inspired by photography. Our goal is to create portraits of artists that somehow have given and give an innovative contribute to society, and that’s what we want to do, by framing with our glasses what is their uniqueness.
2) How much did traveling around the world and having met different cultures, help you and helped you in the design and on the project itself?
Gabriel: More than travel, I would mainly talk about our background. The research we have done and the training especially affect our work. We are inspired by photography because I have studied this art in addition to cinema. Valentina has studied design, communication and journalism, so she knows how to convey ideas.
Being born in Venezuela, having traveled a lot (Ireland, Spain, Switzerland …) has offered us a lot of opportunities, has allowed us to know different people and experience things that surely enrich our work every day and the way we approach to life itself.
Valentina: Ours is a hybrid experience. From a series of intersections, opportunities and high innovation. The multiculturalism distinguishes us and our work.
3) Handmade glasses, authentic. In what do they differ from other brands? What is their originality?
Valentina: On one hand the design is totally original. There is a deep search for identity, there is continuity on the various models of the different collections. Another important point is the use of color: despite being minimal, our glasses are inspired from the art world and that has allowed the use of very bright colors and special combinations. Do not forget the care for details, thanks to the relationship that we are constantly building with our craftsmen.
4) Who is your customer?
Gabriel: There is no precise age to which we turn. However, we recommend those who are looking for something different, colored, crazy, to those who love the care of detail. An esthetic person.
Valentina: We chose to place the product in independent stores, far from multinational companies. Our customer is curious, educated, he knows about design, loves fair trade products and is willing to pay for quality.
5) Looking at the product you breathe art, music, cinema. What are your sources of inspiration?
Gabriel: We like artists who have tried something different. For me one of the sources of inspiration is the post punk.
Valentina: We are inspired by those characters who have marked a historic moment because they have brought innovation, they have had the courage to do something different. Some of our eyeglasses give tribute to those women who have had courage, a feminist approach in saying their opinion, such as Frida Khalo.
We look not only for the artists of the past, but also for the emerging ones, that we promote through our campaign.
6) And what are your favorite artists, paintings, movies, and songs?
Gabriel: David Bowie; Self-portrait with Chuck Close Cigarette; Italian Neorealism and Nouvelle Vague are two cinematic currents that I love a lot, a movie I like so much is “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”; The album The Idiot by Iggy Pop.
Valentina: Caravaggio; La primavera del Botticelli; The Truman Show; Radiohead’s Karma Police.
7) Who comes first: the name or the product?
Gabriel: First I create a concept, then I draw and finally it gets a name.
Valentina: The collection is inspired by an historical moment. For example, the second collection is about futurism. Within this stream there are many figures that represented that movement. Once the frame is ready, we see who among these characters is the one who best suit to the product.
8) How do craftsmanship, technology and design meet in your products?
Valentina: It’s hard not to talk about industry 4.0. Even when it comes to our glasses, to the design phase, there is a strong technological component; An industrialization phase is inevitable. But it’s in the second phase, during bending, pre-gluing, assembling, finishing … that we find the purely manual part and only with skilled craftsmen we can really achieve quality. We can say that there is therefore a combination of industrial and crafts phases.
Even in the marketing phase there is the coexistence between the retailer, who becomes our ambassador, and the e-commerce which has its limits, but also has an enormous chance of getting to everyone. In short, there is a fair balance between this two realities.
9) What are your roles in Portrait Eyewear?
Valentina: Gabriel is the designer. I take care of commercial, marketing, and strategic aspects. But we always work as a team, constantly discussing about everything. And then there are the craftsmen who greatly contribute in the creation of the product we dream of.
10) And about dreams … what’s the glass that you would like to invent now?
Gabriel: I like the idea of keeping the identity with the previous collections, so it will be always understood that the product is Portrait Eyewear. However, there is the will to do something beautiful but, above all, intelligent and low tech.
Valentina: More than the glasses, our dream is to write a piece of the history of eyewear and continue to reinvent us, always on the basis of a clear identity, while overcoming the challenges of the market.