23 Jul Shane Baum X Leisure Society
CFDA Designer / Founder and CEO of Leisure Society
Passion / Occupation
An American luxury designer with a desire to create objects that people will appreciate for a long time.
What’s your mission statement?
The Leisure Society Collection embodies precision craftsmanship with high fashion. The frame designs and timeless aesthetic were created in the spirit of heirloom design, with the intention to create products that will last forever.
Where do you take your overall inspiration from?
From objects of beauty. Furniture, jewelry, house fixtures, silverware, nearly anything that has shape and form. That said, right now I’m watching “The Song Remains the Same” by Led Zepplin, live at Madison Square Garden circa 1973 and feel pretty damn inspired. Those fellas were so damn talented. Long hair and dressed in hippy figure skating outfits. They were not fucking around. Commitment is key to any genius.
What percentage of your workday do you spend on eyewear design?
About an hour our two maximum. I can’t just doodle all day or I lose focus. You have to have a clear idea of what you want to create or you can end up trying to fix a bad idea all afternoon.
What other tasks take up considerable amounts of your professional life?
Telling people about your passion, (which is why its 11:22 PM), traveling, managing inventory (sooo unglamorous and important!)
How many pieces of eyewear have you created so far?
Maybe 300 unique designs (many not so good!).
What’s the main attraction of eyewear design to you?
To me, it’s a mixture of part architecture and product design, part medical device and part fashion. For a person who excels at math, science and more technical things – but loves fashion – it’s the perfect combination.
What is the hardest part about designing eyewear?
Coming up with an entirely new collection every six months. Many retailers want something fresh and new at every exhibition and to a person that creates highly detailed frames, derived from time-consuming drawings, some with over 3,000 individual lines, add in massive tolling charges, it can be slightly frustrating when someone says, “show me whats new?!” Great brands stand the test of time and understand that being known for consistent creations is key to long-term viability. I learned this lesson very well during my time with Louis Vuitton. They are well known for certain patterns and colors that took over 100 years to really mean something. Land Rover has changed the Range Rover body style only three times in 31 years. Rolex has introduced just 46 models in 87 years. True luxury brands know the value of being steadfast and consistent. If you can shut your eyes and imagine what their products look like and what their brand stands for, this is the mark of greatness.
Where do you get the inspiration for your creative design work?
I really think the subconscious is powerful in its accumulation of inspiration. I spend my entire life searching for interesting cultures, subcultures and landscapes. My stripes that you see on nearly every Leisure Society object came from the handle of a 18th century horse-drawn carriage in Salzburg during a family visit in 2009. The red highlights in our text from a beautiful label of French Bordeaux, our patterns from vintage jewelry, artifacts and candelabras. Shapes and fit always come in variations from our archived drawings which number near 1,000 pieces.
Out of all the glasses you created, which one is your favorite piece?
I’m fond of the Leisure Society Oxford or the Bindi I developed with Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton.
Which eyewear designer has had a lasting impact on you?
Cari Zalloni who designed Cazal. His fearlessness is without equal. The Austrian engineering from Alpina in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s was incredible. More modern-day designers would be Alain Mikli, Christian and my dear friend, Patty Perreira for her work at both Oliver Peoples as well as her own brand.
What’s your advice to aspiring eyewear designers?
Be very, very honest with yourself. Don’t drink too much of your own Cool-Aid. There are thousands of companies trying to do what you are doing. To create something new and different, that’s never been done before, that looks luxurious but not ostentatious. A frame that stands out from the crowd in a commercially viable way. It’s easy to link two stars together, put them on Lady Gaga and pronounce, “I rock!” But to really nail all the details, to create something that will influence the industry, that my friend, is a tall order. If you are a young designer, ask yourself very honestly, does my drawing change the game or is a slightly improved version of something that’s already been done? If the answers is the latter, throw it in the bin and get back to work. Innovation is always possible with enough heart and desire.
What would you be doing if it not for eyewear design?
I’d be playing music or designing something else.
How about a thing you can only do with a pair of sunglasses on your head?
Stare at the sun, duh! And oh, you can also stare at somebody beautiful without them thinking you’re a creep…
What’s the best combination of celebrity status and eyewear?
Having a celebrity with a direct connection to your brand that’s loyal and in it for the long term. Like Barton Perreira and Giovanni Ribisi, or my collection with Jennifer Lawrence.
What is your greatest passion?
My children. I love them beyond what I ever knew to be love and am very committed to put wind in their sails as they explore this beautiful thing we call ‘life.’
What do you see yourself doing at 70 years old?
Fly fishing in Montana with a great garden, a massive cellar of wine and having a steady flow of dear family and friends to entertain and share life with.