As a member of Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh is often recognized by his iconic assortment of spectacular spectacles. Now he’s sharing his love for unique glasses by launching a collection of eyewear in collaboration with his wife Anita Greenspan and designer Shane Baum. Mothersbaugh tells CH that the idea to design his own line of glasses had been stirring in his head for quite some time. “I modified glasses throughout the years and modified the stuff I would wear, but always wanted to design some,” he says. “My wife got excited about the idea too, so we started a company and started doing drawings.”
Mothersbaugh—who was declared legally blind at the age of seven—has had a life-long relationship with glasses, in terms of necessity and self-expression. “It just seemed that vision and eyewear was something that came organically out of what we were doing on several levels,” Greenspan explains, “Mark just cannot function without glasses, and I don’t think anybody would recognize him without them.” Mothersbaugh directly correlates his choice to enter the creative world with his dependence on glasses, saying that he dreamt of becoming an artist the night he was given his first pair as a child. “They say that when one sense is depleted, others bloom and make themselves known,” Greenspan says, noting that their daughter, who also has severe vision problems, is following her father’s footsteps by expressing herself through art. “Loss of of physical vision can expand your inner vision, and that’s what we wanted to explore with this.”
The first collection features three styles, with each representing something special to the couple. The Akronite frame, named after Mothersbaugh’s native Akron, OH, was styled after the artist’s highly recognizable rectangular glasses. “Whatever glasses you choose end up being a statement about yourself when you walk into a room. It’s a statement about how you see the world,” says Mothersbaugh. “Yeah,” Greenspan agrees, “There’s something familiar about them, but then there’s something completely new about them. Wherever we go, people stop us and ask us where we got them.” Other styles include the Mutato, sharing the name of Mothersbaugh’s music production company Muzika Mutato, and the Francesca, named after the couple’s hermaphroditic dog and designed as a unisex frame.
In terms of design, durability was a key element. Baum suggested using beryllium, which imitates the look of Mothersbaugh’s classic stainless steel frames, but with much more resilience and flexibility. Recalling mishaps with his own glasses (including popped lenses while performing with Devo) Mothersbaugh jokes, “I’m not reverential about whether my glasses get back in the case every night. I kind of just fall into bed and they end up on the nightstand or on the headboard, or they end up mixed in with the blankets. So these are much more durable. Beryllium just looks so good, and it’s flexible.”
What makes the collection most unique, however, is the use of highly reflective glass, which Mothersbaugh and Greenspan conceptualized when first sketching their designs. In doing so, they wanted to make the glasses interact with their surroundings, especially by mirroring whoever is looking into them. “If I walk into your office, or your house, or wherever we meet, it’s like I take on the qualities of the room and take on a part of you,” Mothersbaugh explains. “What I like about all of them is they have this kind of like zellige thing where they refract and deconstruct colors.”
To promote the collection, Mothersbaugh interviewed artists—including Moby, Fred Armisen, Lance Robertson—while they wear the eyewear. Each artist is asked about their artistic vision and approach to life, connecting how they see the world with what they choose to create. “We know a lot of interesting people, and we thought that inviting them to express their vision would be the perfect first offering in a line of objects and necessities that we hope to create.”
Mothersbaugh + Baum will be available at over 500 retailers around the world, including RONROBINSON | Fred Segal and Opening Ceremony.
Additional reporting by Gabriella Garcia, final image courtesy of Mark Mothersbaugh, all others by Greg Stefano