With a line of family members having practiced in the field of optometry, a young visionary from London was influenced to explore a more innovative, creative side to optics.
Jason Kirk and his wife Karen, are the duo behind the eyewear brand Kirk Originals.
With a warm smile, and wearing “Joni” glasses from his Sculpture collection, Kirk sat down with me at Toronto’s Karir boutique to open my own eyes to his latest projects.
The Kinetic, Saturn, Sculpture, Kirk Heroes and sunglasses collections are all part of his latest designs, derived from a list of things he and Karen love.
“It’s just stuff we remember throughout our lives that have made us smile,” Kirk says.
On that list: furniture, cars, places they’ve been to, pictures, paintings, sculptures, art, films and toys.
There’s plenty of variety when it comes to a pair of Kirk Originals. Every colour combination imaginable has been carefully mingled together alongside creative designs you can’t find anywhere else.
The array of colours is influenced by a box of glasses his grandfather made in the 1950s and ‘60s.
With his family coming from a background in optics, Kirk says he didn’t feel pressure to go into the field. When he was four, he spent every Saturday with his dad at his practice in London. However, the profession of being an eye doctor didn’t appeal to him, noting it was rather unexciting. “I was more into creativity,” he says.
By chance, he found a box of beautiful glasses his grandfather designed. “That was the inspiration. I went out looking for similar products to see if anybody else was doing it and didn’t find anything,” Kirk says of the initial spark for his business. “Karen and I just started saying ‘This is perfect.’ She’s is a graphic designer by trade so it’s a perfect marriage.”
The most popular of his designs is the Kinetic collection – bold, colourful glasses with a lenticular image that moves along the temples. The line was inspired by the cards you used to find in cereal boxes; when you moved the card, the image would move as well.
Kirk admits that for the last few years, his brand has been about movement.
“It’s about taking what’s essentially a structure and bringing it to life,” he says. “It’s about having something dynamic when it’s traditionally still objects.”
Another collection he seems to hold dear to his heart is the Saturn line. With glasses named after the moons of Saturn such as “Mima” and “Pandora”, Kirk says they are the reflection of the wearer.
Coating a shiny surface along the outside, it’s what’s in the inside which makes these spectacles so spectacular.
“To wear Kirk Originals you’re going to be a personality…when you put [the Saturn collection] on, what you see is something simple, appealing, interesting,” Kirk says.
“You can see something at the side, but you can’t tell what it is. It’s up to me whether to share the secret on the inside.”
An explosion of glitter, influenced by celebration.
“Like, in the 1970s when you just got up and danced and didn’t care. It’s just passion. It’s like we’re all having a disco on the inside,” he says, noting that, “The best part is you don’t have to share the secret.”
My personal favourite, his Sculpture collection, displays colourful bold acrylic temples with a lightweight feel, making them very comfortable to wear.
“Nobody uses acrylic. It took us three years to actually find a way to make it into these glasses,” Kirk says. They also have memory foam to keep their shape and prevent them from falling off your face.
The designer eyewear has a price range of $460-$500, and Kirk states his brand is not about value in terms of money, but of how you feel while wearing the glasses.
“When you put the glasses on you should feel two inches taller or like a million dollars.”
The description sounds appropriate considering Kirk Originals designs specialty items for Elton John, U2, Julia Roberts and Samuel L. Jackson – celebs serious about standing out.
Kirk also recalls another client determined to set themselves apart from the crowd.
“The last day I was in London, a guy came in [the store]…dressed as a pirate and asked us to make him a monocle.”
Kirk accepted the challenge but, due to marketing reasons, he won’t make an entire collection of the single-lensed designs.
While you may not have needs as specific as this sea-faring gentleman, we all want to feel special in a pair of specs, whether they’re for everyday wear or for those long sunny weekends ahead. With Kirk Originals, you get style, comfort and a special feeling unique to their designs.
By Jessica Moy for Plaid Magazine