Men @ Work: Martin Lehmann

Upwardly mobile gardener turned eyewear designer

Martin Lehmann



Passion / Occupation
Aspiring gardener and student of the arts, self-made designer, certified master of business administration.

What’s your mission statement?
Goals can turn into roadblocks, or in other words: develop open goals, so you can update them constantly.

Where do you take your overall inspiration?
To leave something behind, like footsteps in the sand. Imprints, finished products, shapes and messages. A growing, kneaded-through, fought-for something that’s proof you were here. A brand, if you will.

What percentage of your workday do you spend on eyewear design?
At first sight, only the smallest part. Oddly enough, I spend more time to get myself into “creative mode” by running my lungs out or climbing factory walls. And that’s when ideas come up, around 5 a.m. or some other time. During these stages, my organized daily schedule tends to fall apart; I work nights and miss appointments during the day (Editor’s note: That, we can confirm.) But I also have great people for keeping the individual parts together. Because for the next collection, everything has to flow together into a synthesis of shapes, colors, materials and technology in combination with communication and presentation. All this comes together during a trade show appearance, which is a big moment for us.

What other tasks take up considerable amounts of your professional life?
Mainly making sure that all strategic and everyday occupations keep running in the same direction, creating a coherent whole with a unique signature. It’s like a 24-hour puzzle with a metaphorical theme. And I’ve already moved over the rather time-consuming distribution aspect to my partners, LuxTrade!

How many pieces of eyewear have you created so far?
Around 120.

What’s the main attraction of eyewear design to you?
Nothing changes a person’s type as markedly as a pair of glasses. It sits smack in the middle of the face, and is really THE most important accessory.

What is the hardest part about designing eyewear?
Everything happens in an area of 14×5 cm. So one-tenth of a millimeter will make a dramatic difference, as well as the colors, which can determine the optical appearance of shapes. As the French say: “Architecture en miniature.”

Where do you get the inspiration for your creative design work?
It may sound bizarre, but there’s a recording device inside my head, permanently running. It’s quite receptive for combinations of shapes, colors and materials, a sensitive magnetic film for capturing combinations of nature and minimalist architecture, for example the re-developed former US rocket silos by Tadao Ando in the town of Grevenbroich.

Out of all the glasses you created, which one is your favorite piece?
That’s constantly changing, but as far as the creative process goes, clearly the “Bert” model. It came to me in a dream, and I was able to reconstruct the dream afterwards. Or how about the “Paul” model, with my favorite uncle as a namesake.

Which eyewear designer has made a lasting impact on you?
Philippe Starck, for his versatility and business sense in the realm of design.

What’s your advice to aspiring eyewear designers?
Don’t let anyone spoil your plans and develop your own signature. It will not necessarily become apparent in one single pair of glasses, but very much in an entire collection…

What would you be doing if it not for eyewear design?
Probably the same thing in a different industry, most likely designing gardens and garden shacks. And here’s another piece of advice for aspiring designers. At the start of my professional career, I tried to channel my creativity into my payroll accounting, which was not well received at all…

How about a thing you can only do with a pair of sunglasses on your head?
Seeing and being seen…

What’s the best combination of celebrity status and eyewear?
Oh, there are quite a few: Buddy Holly, Heinz Erhard, Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, Anne Hathaway, who also looks pretty good without glasses.

What is your greatest passion?
Inspiration of all kinds, art, exhibitions, music, the more eccentric, the better… Everything that lets me vent energy and clear my head: long runs, climbing, ski tours, interspersed with sauna, tours to chalets and the occasional monastery visit… just never slipping into fixed routines.

What do you see yourself doing at 70 years old?
Hopefully the same things as now, albeit a bit slower…

Photos: Denis Ignatov

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