Massada is an art eyewear brand favored by independents around the world. Created by the couple, designer Kate Lupinsky and financier Chris Mastaler, Massada stands as a boutique brand enjoying a simple unrestrained structure. Massada constantly challenges the convention of eyewear standard paths of design. Inspired by natural science, mathematics, geometry as well as personal emotions, experiences, studies and perceived aesthetics impulses, the pair collaborates with the best craftsmen around the world. In all these areas, Massada extract some form of Art they then transpose into their frames. 

As such, Massada understands themselves as an art eyewear brand. Every frame has the connection to the world of art. As we are about to include them in our Portfolio of Brands, we sat down with the founder Chris to talk about… Art of course and how big a part it plays in the creative process and design of their frames. 

Reading in the evening is our daily diet

  1. There’s hardly another eyewear label that carries art in its DNA and is so dedicated to it as MASSADA. How come?

It comes from our heart. It comes from our blood. Interest in art has always been part of our lives and when MASSADA was started it was a natural solicitation of what we feel and who we are. We bring our personalities to MASSADA independent eyewear label. The art element of MASSADA is not a deliberately applied marketing ingredient of the label, this is the way we feel and experience life.

  1. What was your relationship with the art world before you founded the brand MASSADA?

It was not linear. In short: looking at the world we realized more and more that culture is one of the most important assets. From early art related studies and fascinations came observations of economy, business and the way art was linked to social order, power, leisure and luxury. Kate is a designer and studied art history. I was interested in economy and culture across various nations and political systems. Art is an imminent representation of that. In addition we simply love to see and experience art as much as possible, either by visiting museums, art trade shows, reading books and collecting art. We are fascinated by our own artistic projects and eyewear label MASSADA. We also have a long history of art collecting and collecting books on art, reading in the evening is our daily diet. The majority of big names in art were individuals who had a lot of solid educational background and curiosity.

  1. What exactly fascinates you about art? Is there a special type of art that you feel attracted to in particular?

The most fascinating aspect of art is its emotional power arising from human creativity and the power to communicate that. A mutual communication via aesthetics. The most important is the context of the interaction and not the type of art.

Our interests touch all forms and periods of art. We are interested in a variety of art scenes: prehistorical paintings, free jazz, calligraphy, medieval color symbolism, ballet, folk art, history of architecture, comics, modern art of XXI century as Flemish School of paintings and so on. What is important is that all of these are within a historical, political and socioeconomic context as we do not believe in art for art’s sake.

  1. How would you say do you fit in the global art scene? How do you contribute?

Our major contribution is working on convergence of aestheticisation of commerce and commercialization of the aesthetics in eyewear design and branding.

Things take time, eyewear helps to achieve goals.

  1. What was your motivation to launch an Independent Eyewear Label?

We like knowledge based social ascension. Eyewear is to us a symbol of ambition based on education and persistence. Historically speaking, Eyewear was associated with studies. In art history, one of the first images of eyewear is of nobility, emperors, cardinals, merchants, high echelons of society. Mandarins always wear glasses in old paintings. When the cult of youth exploded, wearing eyewear in western culture was considered as a handicap for the elderly, and we think it is changing. It is becoming trendy.

It is clear that there is a correlation between wealth and education. Smart families care about their children’s future and do their best to provide the best educational options.The use of artificial lighting and computers add to the increase use of eyewear. We are thrown back to the wheel of history where eyewear as an object can again be associated with successful individuals who study hard and work hard, accumulate knowledge and wisdom. Wealth does not come overnight, at least most of the time. It takes time, eyewear helps to achieve that. To us, eyewear, intellectuality and wealth are almost synonymous. That makes an incredible narration for an eyewear related brand. We wouldn’t choose other objects to play with branding.

  1. What does Eyewear have to do with art anyway?

We believe in the convergence of art and luxury. It is an object of consumption presented in society as a means of communication among a variety of actors involved. Eyewear has become a message in itself. What you consume is who you are in today’s world. Consumerism as ideology is as strong as religion. The same applies to eyewear. Eyewear carries an emotional weight imposed on the observer. Viewers can judge the value of the person wearing a particular label associated with a particular message. It can influence the way people are valued within social circles. The more elite you are the more you try to stand out. As soon as avant-garde becomes mainstream, elites move to new areas unknown to the less informed. People can make a lot of judgments based on the eyewear you are wearing. I am sure opticians, depending on the country, culture and context also do that when they see a client or observe people on the street wearing eyewear. Linking eyewear with art in the way MASSADA does is the proposition of being a member of the club, which can be joined only by some chosen and knowledgeable. It is a statement of belonging to a certain intellectual group. It is a statement of aesthetics within the MASSADA experience. Eyewear is a strong communication tool in luxury.

  1. Do you use art merely as “a beautiful communication tool” or do you draw inspiration from art when it comes to designing glasses as well? How so?

All our pieces are art related! There are direct applications in every piece. Either by elements like temples or in the story related to the pieces. We love to adapt art creations by artists like Jean Hans Arp, Constantin Brancusi or Monet to our pieces. In every piece we use the story related to art. The names and descriptions tell the narrations that exist in our heads. It’s important that our art inspirations do not tempt us to overdesign the frames, it has to be justified by utility.

Architecture is the art of design with a lot of purpose.

  1. Architecture also plays an important role in your communication: do you consider it to be art too or is it a completely different genre?

Architecture is the expression of our personalities. We think it is very much associated with human psychology. Everyone who builds houses or decorates apartments knows it. Architecture is definitely an art as it requires imagination and it is how humans communicate their social position, their tastes and all other aspects of their richness. We tried to look at as many buildings as possible from a variety of eras. Architecture is the art of design with a lot of purpose. It is essential as it provides shelter or other functions needed in our existence. It is so broad and so universal. We derive a lot of inspiration from it. For example, the Teshima building fascinates us all the time and our frame design titled after the building involves curves and the lightness achieved by the SANA architects.

  1. Besides its art DNA, what makes MASSADA glasses so special?

Genuine design and outstanding quality. We spend a lot of time designing the frames, we try to be different from others and that requires a lot of thinking and polishing the shapes. We do not want to go to extremes, our goal is designing simple but unique shapes. From our recent collection, shapes like Rashōmon and Pogany are good examples of simple geometric shapes. However we also have plenty of designs that we spend endless hours on designing, polishing: simple shapes like Atmosphäre, inspired by Gernot Böhme’s “Atmosphäre: Essays zur neuen Ästhetik”, a concept of space that is touched by the presence of people, things and environmental constellations. Our frames are timeless. We are not a fashion brand. Our quality is outstanding and we work breathlessly to provide the best possible engineering. We are convinced that we are the best on the market in that respect. We will spend the next few weeks in the Sabae area working with craftsmen on elements and development of frames that we designed already for next year’s SILMO. It takes an incredible amount of effort to develop and manufacture the frames and defy mass productions. However we are committed to excellence and our quality effort is a very personal challenge.

  1. Are MASSADA opticians required to have a minimum of art expertise?

Opticians need to know their clients. In any case more label knowledge always helps for any brand. Knowing the client and knowing the labels helps to match both and make a successful sale. Offering Massada requires a bit of knowledge provided in our manual book for the shops and sales people. You can learn it easily just from reading a short handy book explaining brand and product. If you know your client and you know the label’s DNA and what it’s all about, opticians can satisfy those who constitute a fertile soil for the art related eyewear brand. Such an approach adds value to the transaction as the optician becomes a trader of cultural capital.

Thanks Chris!

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