PARIS–In an old, rejuvenated industrial park, along the docks of the Bassin de la Villette and at the foot of an old railway wasteland converted in a beautiful ecological park, lies the sun-kissed atelier of Lucas de Staël. This is where the young designer and his team produce very luxurious and innovative eyewear with one-of-a- kind craftsmanship.
On the door, a sign reads “Undostrial.” It is the name of the first eyewear company of Lucas de Staël, still in production, but it remains the philosophy behind his work.
”I called my first company ”Undostrial,” because I wanted to explore another way of doing things, to create things differently, in an ‘un-industrial’ way,” explained Lucas De Staël with a smile.
The young designer graduated in 2003 from l’ENSCI, and specialized in eyewear and sustainability. After acquiring some experience in French eyewear companies, he decided to launch his own brand with a friend. “With my previous job I had to visit the traditional french eyewear factories in the Juras and the production process appeared to me very complex. I wanted to do something simpler and in the purest form of eyewear.”
In 2006, the first Undostrial collection came out with modern-looking glasses in one piece, without any hinges.
Some years later, he decided to create another eyewear brand with a more traditional shape and that would allow him to dig into his passion for materials and experiments. He gave it his name, Lucas de Staël, a beautiful heritage passed down to him from his famous grandfather, the painter from Russian origins, Nicolas de Staël.
The Materials Geek
While touring the workshop with the young designer, it’s obvious that what he does animates him — each machine, each part of the process, each different kind of leather we come across… he explains in detail and with passion. He wants us to touch the different kind of leather, to feel their differences, to smell the smoked cork he is planning to use for a new collection of glasses.
The auto-proclamed ”material geek” is also passionated about the mysterious Egyptian pyramids that, according to some specialists, could have been realized with a kind of first cement and not with stones, how the cow leather is getting thinner and thinner due to the bad alimentation of the cows, or how some ancient knight armor was made of a solid cooked leather that we don’t know how to do anymore…
In the morning, the young team that accompanies him in this adventure is sharing a coffee and small talk around a big wooden table. When they all join their workplace, a concentrated silence descends on the open space, which is sheltered by a glass canopy. It is seldom disrupted by the clicking of machinery. About 70% of the brand’s production is realized in Paris, in the same workshop.
His love for beautiful material and his quest for developing unique techniques is also evident when you go through the different eyewear collections. They all get the same stainless steel core structure but then the material, their combination and melting and the finition are different.
The Minotaure Collection is made of genuine cow leather, natural chemical free and is tanned using hypoallergenic dyes. The fine frame combined with the soft yet thick leather contributes to create unique glasses that will evolve and deepen in color as time enhances their tan.
The Stratus collection is made of striped, slated, dark granite, pearl or magma slate or shiny granit quartz.
Overall, Lucas de Staël’s prices range from 650 to 950 euro with some luxurious models with exotic skins ranging in price from 2000 to 2500 euro. About 50% of his sales are booked in Europe (25% In France) and 25% in Asia, 25% in the United States.
Why glasses, one may ask ? The young designer doesn’t even wear any.
“When you develop glasses, you have to work on the technical aspect, the organic aspect, the morphology, the design. It’s a very complete product that is at our scale.” And Lucas de Staël also really appreciates the world of the opticians and its friendliness. “They are real experts so it is challenging to provide them with the perfect product. Sometimes they come to the fair with their kids — a lot of times, it is a family business. I think I also enjoy this part of my work.” Undostrially yours, for sure !
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