A man and a woman wearing Reframd glasses

2 February 2021 

Berlin start-up designs glasses for Black people

Traditional glasses often fit poorly on Black faces. A nose bridge that's too high or narrow creates a gap between the frame and the wearer's nose, with nose pads resting on top of the nose instead of on the sides as they're supposed to. This makes glasses slide down or conversely move up when their wearer smiles.

It's a design problem that Reframd's founder Ackeem Ngwenya, who studied innovation design engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, decided to tackle. He created frames with lower and wider nose bridges for glasses that rest comfortably around the nose bridge instead of on top of it. Currently, Reframd offers 'standard' frames in three widths, priced at EUR 200, with sunglasses sold for EUR 249.

Recognizing the individuality within Black faces, the company's next step will be to incorporate 3D modelling to create custom-built frames. A customer will be able to use their phone camera to capture their 'face landmarks'. As Ngwenya explained to Design Week, "Essentially, it's a pair of glasses that adapt in response to different inputs such as head width, bridge height, pantoscopic tilt, temple length, and more. These parameters drive frame creation for a particular person and that frame is then sent to our production partner and made for the customer."

When creating a new product, every choice a designer makes has the potential to exclude people. Sometimes that's done unwittingly, other times it's a deliberate decision to focus on the largest group of potential buyers. Either way, those decisions create gaps in the market for other entrepreneurs to fill, by embracing any group that has been excluded or overlooked!

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