Glasses included in the Claude Samuel Collection Glasses included in the Claude Samuel Collection Optometrist Claude Samuel's collection offers an overview of eyeglass design dating back to the 16th century. (Photo: Eli Bohbot)

With an eye on design, new exhibit explores history of eyewear

Eyeglasses have morphed in shape and size through the centuries.

The history of eyeglasses is rich, varied and very long; through centuries eyewear has evolved from being a medical device meant to correct a defect, to, somewhat counterintuitively, becoming an intellectual signifier and fashion accessory.

"We tend to forget that the initial purpose of eyeglasses was to correct a flaw, and eyeglasses do not conceal that flaw, but actually emphasize it by means of design," said Maya Dvash, curator of a new exhibition at Israel's Design Museum Holon that examines cultural milestones and the role eyeglasses have played in defining social and cultural phenomena.

Benjamin Martin Eyeglasses, 1756, metal and Bull Horn

Benjamin Martin, an 18th century instrument maker, made these eyeglasses in 1756 out of metal and Bull Horn. They are now part of the Claude Samuels Collection. (Photo: Eli Bohbot)

The exhibition follows the development and future of eyeglasses through several different points of view: from the unique Claude Samuel retrospective eyeglasses collection dating back to the 17th century to contemporary conceptual interpretations of eyeglasses by 50 Israeli designers.

Protective welding glassing, France 1960s, aluminum and rubberThese protective welding glassing, from 1960s France, are part of Claude Samuel's collection. (Photo: Shay Ben Efraim).

The exhibit is, so to speak, a visual exploration of humanity's attempts to make beautiful even its most pervasive imperfections.

Michael Tsinzovsky display, titled 'Extruded Glasses,' is an attempt to deconstruct and reconstruct the object’s design, and examine the place of the designer, the industry, the material, the technology, and manufacturing processes.Michael Tsinzovsky display, titled 'Extruded Glasses,' is an attempt to deconstruct and reconstruct the object’s design, and examine the place of the designer, the industry, the material, the technology, and manufacturing processes. (Photo: Shay Ben Efraim)

Phoropter, England, The British Refracting unit, 1904, metalThis Phoropter was used in early 20th century England and is now part of the Claude Samuel Collection. (Photo: Eli Bohbot)

Eyeglasses by Israeli designers Anuk Yosebashvili and Yaron Shmerkin.These glasses, by Anuk Yosebashvili and Yaron Shmerkin, reveal the lengths to which self-expression and individuality can be expressed through eyeglass design. (Photo: Shay Ben Efraim)
PQ glasses by Ron AradRon Arad, who designed the Design Museum Holon, contributed these PQ glasses to the exhibit. (Photo: Shay Ben Efraim)
Famous Windows by Luka OrLuka Or's 'Famous Windows' explores eyeglasses as an iconic garment and reduces the fashion statement into a simple cartoon. (Photo: Shay Ben Efraim)
Yaacov Kaufman's display at Design Museum Holon
From Yaacov Kaufman’s perspective, eyeglasses are a mask. In this display the characteristics of a mask have been reduced through a series of different vision devices and have created an evolutionary timeline, concluding with the monocle – the most minimal vision device. (Photo: Shay Ben Efraim)

'SODAPOP' by Oded Webman at Design Museum Holon'SODAPOP' by Oded Webman, is Webman’s attempt to create classic but distinct shapes, while using a nontraditional design and manufacturing process. (Photo: Shay Ben Efraim)


'Scroll Back' by Ori Ben Zvi and Maya Ben David 'Scroll Back,' by Ori Ben Zvi and Maya Ben David, engages in the relationship between the historical archetype of the magnifying lens and the scrolling action featured in today’s digital devices. (Photo: Shay Ben Efraim)

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