Based in Barcelona, Vuerich B is a team of two brothers – Gianni, a cabinetmaker, and Baptiste, a freelance designer. In 2010 they devised a method of crafting eyewear from old skateboards, transferring the physical qualities of 7-ply cross laminated Canadian maple into sturdy pairs of sunglasses. With a strong focus on sustainability the brothers have designed a range of intricately detailed, entrancingly colored, eco-friendly glasses. SLAMXHYPE recently caught up with Baptiste Veurich to learn more about the concepts and processes behind the brand.
Carolina Barua: How did VuerichB. come up with the idea to produce glasses from skateboards?
Baptiste Vuerich: We’ve been working for a long time on the erosion, the life time of objects. I started to create things with old decks, because I had no money to buy new material and the decks were laying beside my bed. We did all kind of things out of a deck: chairs, lamps, coatrack, fourch, boomerang, bow and arrow, and so on… but the glasses seemed to be an interesting development, it uses the qualities of a skateboard transplanted to another object of everyday life.
Can you tell us a bit about the process behind making a pair of glasses?
The first step is to get boards – we go to different skate spots in Barcelona and grab some kids skating and buy their old decks, and the rest are given by friends and skateshops. This contact with the youth is essential, it’s like digging for coal in your neighborhood.
And then we follow these chronological steps: we select the colored decks, take off the griptape, (that we’re now reusing to add texture on the frames) cut front part, cut arms, sculpt, glue the hinges (wooden hinges), sand a lot, laser engrave, marquet the logo, and finally varnish and assemble lenses, arms and frame part, then we take photos in five different angles of each pair of glasses.
Did you make many prototypes to come up with your working model?
We got a one cubic meter box full of prototypes, it took us two years to get the quality we wanted to reach. All details were deeply studied. Decks have different shapes and curve which mean it’s difficult to standardize a manufacturing process.
How do you go about selecting the old skateboards? Are you searching for particular features?
The selection is the key, each skateboard brand has their seasonal tendencies, not only represented by the graphic but also by the selected tainted layer that they are using to build the deck. It’s always a surprise, each season we got new colors and our coating process gives depth and makes the wood grain appear.
How long will one pair take to make? Are you working on any new models at the moment?
Each pair requires between 5 to 6 hours.
(We’re designing new shapes but they’re not gonna be released before september.)
The glasses are so cleverly crafted – Can you tell us a bit about how you acquire the colour gradients?
Sanding, passing through the colour layers, just like the geological layers united to each other.
The sanding process as an accelerated metaphor of natural erosion.
There is so much detail in the designs with the final product still resonating with its past. How do you think the story behind the glasses speaks to your customers?
Details give distance with the previous shape and use of the material. Thinking about the amount of tricks that one pair of glasses did… A kid, a teenager or a proskater, they can try the same trick one hundred times. Maybe that energy is introduced to the glasses – it’s hard to tell.
The laminated wood adapts itself to your morphology, with time the deck becomes softer, it’s a default for a skateboarder but it’s a quality for glasses.
What would you say some of your influences are in design?
Victor Papanek, André-Charles Boulle , Jacques Androuet du Cerceau.
Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Vuerich B? Do you guys often work together?
The inspiration was to propose alternative product, new interpretation and a new path.
We are two brothers, Gianni is a cabinet maker and I’m an industrial designer. We wanted to work together because we knew we would complete us. All the manufacturing processes are handled between us.
What are your backgrounds, what got you interested in design?
We come from a small Belgian town (Charleroi. The city is grey, and there’s a lot of coal mines and mine dumps, it draws from the whole landscape, all the industries are deserted and abandoned. By designing we create, we manufacture, and we hope in a more moderate way then in the past. We’re not industrial people, we love to handcraft every pair of shades we do.
Do you think its important that more design companies begin to address environmental issues within their practice?
Certainly. I hope it can be integrated in the essence of every company. We’re not political, we do things and we try to transmit sensitive messages.
Will VuerichB grow to encapsulate other products in the future?
Yes, but it will take time.