NYC LIMITED EDITION: Frame Designer Interview Series (Jason Kirk circa 2015)

Why did you get started in this industry?

MyGrandfather, Sidney Kirk, and his brother, Percy Kirk, founded Kirk Brothers in 1919, an optical factory and business that was fundamental to the growth of the British optical industry. My Dad, Neville, was an optician but it was of no interest to me until I stumbled across a box of my grandfathers old designs back in the early 1990s. From then on I knew it was in my blood. Karen Kirk, my wife and partner in the business, is a trained designer and brought discipline to my untamed passion.Together we have been creating frames for over twenty years.

What are you most passionate about your company?

Sidney and Percy Kirk made a difference to the nascent optical industry and Karen and I are driven to do the same. Our goal is to create unique eyewear that is totally wearable, to make people really think about frames and, above all, to enjoy their glasses.

How should we explain your product to our clients?

The Vivarium Collection is made from acrylic, not acetate, which gives two major benefits:
1) We have a range of colours and textures that only exist in acrylic
2) They are extremely light and very comfortable to wear
We have created a range of discrete animal pins, fashioned by British jewelers from sterling silver and nine carat gold which complement the slightly metallic finish of the frames.
The optician can choose, the frame, colour, animal and precious metal so create a collection which is very personal to their store.
The collection is tasteful but with an element of humour that reminds us to enjoy our eyewear.

What inspires you at work?

The Vivarium collection was inspired by the eccentric scientists of Victorian England and their bizarre relationship with nature.
Victoriana combines so many of our passions and inspiration - art, dandyism, exploration, discovery - it was an amazing era and so very British.
Inspiration can come from many different places. Our studio is on the sea front and we are constantly amazed by the unique light that this offers which is an idea that we are playing with at the moment.

What's one thing you'd like to share with opticians?

Our crusade is for transparency and honesty; insist that the frames that you are offering are really MADE where they say they are made. This has nothing to do with price but it is all about customer confidence. The most valuable asset an optician can have is the 100% trust of the consumer.