What weighs about the same as a single hyper velocity bullet, is made from the ninth most abundant element in the earth’s crust, was co-created by an architect and lightly adorns the faces of Danish royalty and luminaries like Robert De Niro, Elton John, Tyra Banks and Tommy Lee Jones? Anyone ‘in the know’ would know that the correct answer is simple: Lindbergs.
While minimalist, rimless glasses are now de rigueur and obtainable across a variety of spectacle brands, loyalists laud Lindberg as the leader of the pack when it comes to purist optical design. Like any milestone in innovative design, there is a story behind the iconic Lindberg range, a story that starts back in the 60s…
A Danish tale
In 1969, optician Poul-Jørn Lindberg and his wife Hanne set up his practice, Lindberg Optik, in the centre of Århus, the second-largest city in Denmark. Not content to simply sell the glasses others created, a decade later Poul-Jørn began designing his own range of eyewear, his impetus ostensibly being his own ailing vision. When he discovered that he, himself, required glasses, he found all the frames in his shop too heavy and cumbersome and started yearning for feather-light glasses that did not, as yet, exist.
The optician and the architect
Spurred on by his vision of sleek optical elegance with no comfort spared, in 1983 Lindberg teamed up with Hans Dissing of the architectural firm Dissing & Weitling to fine tune the ultimate eyewear design. What they conceived, designed and produced was the world’s first range of titanium frames, Air Titanium – a range that set a new design benchmark for spectacles the world over.
Frames in the family
The design house, Lindberg Optic Design, with Poul-Jørn’s son Henrik amongst the staff, opened its doors in 1984. In this instance, the ‘doors’ being the door of the three-room flat above Lindberg Optik, where the finest titanium frames were fastidiously fashioned by hand. Two years later, the first AIR Titaniums became available for retail, to the awe and acclaim of the frame-seeking public.
Never before had the world seen, or indeed looked through, such glasses! Rimless, seamless and with nary a screw in sight, each pair was customised to perfectly suit the contours of each face. Each pair made from an incredibly strong metal alloy, yet still possessing superior flexibility and almost pure weightlessness. This truly was the closest one could come to wearing air. So much adored were the first Lindberg frames that, a year into their release, HM Queen Margrethe II and HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark gracefully donned their AIRS (resulting in the granting of the Danish Royal Warrant of Appointment to Lindberg in 2009, an honour bestowed upon the preferred esteemed suppliers of goods to the royal family).
Evolution and awards
Since Lindberg first AIR range there have been myriad variations, additions and enhancements, from the AIR Titanium RIM Sun, Kid and Acetate, the Strip range, Sirius sports sunglasses and the Precious range, boasting elegant touches like solid 18ct gold rims or buffalo horn temples, to the X kid/teen and the firmly masculine 3Star collection. Since the AIR Titanium range being awarded the highest recognition of superior Danish design, the Danish “ID-prize”, in 1989, Lindberg’s design excellence has been rewarded by the granting of over 40 coveted design awards from all over the world. The most recent kudos, the 2012 Red dot product design award as well as the Good Design award from Chicago Athenaeium, were granted for two variants in the Precious Bamboo temple design range and also to the Lindberg Acetanium Teen range, much anticipated by the more discerning of the younger generation.
The Lindberg legacy
Back in 1993, the Lindberg brand was in the 1993 “Design Miroir du Siecle” at Grand Palais in Paris, an exhibition of a selection of the best designs of the 20th century. And in 2011, Poul-Jørn Lindberg was appointed Knight of the Order of Dannebrog, a title traditionally bestowed upon officers, diplomats and politicians for long, loyal service to the Crown. So today, Poul-Jørn Lindberg can proudly say that he has changed the history of optical design. And no doubt he is now happy to wear glasses. After all, they are Lindbergs.
Information provided by Dr Jan Coetzee of Insight Optometrists, Indooroopilly (Brisbane, Queensland). Dr Coetzee holds a doctorate in optometry and is dedicated to raising awareness of eye health issues and providing high quality, protective eyewear. Insight Optometrists is also an accredited member of the Eyecare Plus group, a select collective of clinically-driven optometry practices across Australia. More info: www.insightoptom.com.au.