Bold London is a boutique eyewear brand born from the desire to make beautiful and well constructed eyewear using the finest materials and British artisanal methods available. We caught up with Director & Designer Guy Buchan to learn a little about the brand's history, his favourite spots around London and how he has been dealing with life in lockdown.
CC: Can you give us a little back story to Bold, when did the idea come about?
GB: I feel like Bold came to me slowly, a steadily building feeling of increasing intensity to birth my own viewpoint in a tangible and physical form.
I’ve always had a passion for design, style, product and brand. My professional background has involved me setting up and running a boutique design and innovation consultancy, Integrate London, working with clients internationally. My consultancy work ranges from fashion to finance; from helping define and hone communication and strategy for PUMA, through to designing new digital products and services, such as trading applications, for UBS Investment Bank and Deutsche Bank and other FTSE 100 companies.
Having successfully led many others through the very personal and emotional journey of bringing an idea to life, and all the thousands of different decisions which shape the value of proposition, product and communication, it was a case of wanting to walk the path myself. I wanted to evolve it in an organic way, with a series of small experiments, and create something that I could start to put out into the world, into people's hands, to get a reaction and observe how it's received. The difference being it’s up to me to make those decisions, to express my own viewpoint, and tap into my intuition to feel I'm on the right path.
So Bold is a vehicle to express and channel my inner artistic voice that was growing in volume, a way for me to create my own objects of desire that could be held, appreciated, carried every day and can age with character, classic yet also timeless. A chance for me to learn, experiment and evolve my ideas. Looking back on it now, also a chance to integrate my commercial brand and design consultancy language, with my own personal artistic expression to create an art + commerce project focused on British handmade.
CC: What were your early struggles?
GB: When I first started developing Bold we’d just come out of a time of economic crisis. When I told people what I was planning to do, some thought it was bad timing and not a good idea, doubting it could work. I did have moments of internal questioning and introspection about the timing, the value proposition, the business model, but they led back to moments of clarity and an intuitive feeling that I was on the right path.
From a business perspective, a large investment of capital is often required in creating a new brand and eyewear collection, but as I’ve seen the project as a form of personal self-development I’ve self-funded the project by reinvesting my consultancy profits back into Bold. I’ve always focused on creating a lean and sustainable business model, which in turn is sustainable for the environment.
For me Bold is a life-time project, I’m enjoying the process of growing it organically and want to evolve in the right way with the right quality, in the time it takes to do so, build brand value, but with a focus on the art and beauty of the product first and foremost.
CC: What drew you originally to designing eyewear?
GB: Eyewear is the ideal opportunity to define and express your personal style. Occupying prime real estate, it’s often one of the first and most prominent style identifiers and presents the largest opportunity to define and enhance your personal style and identity.
CC: What inspires you creatively; is there a specific record or a certain film (s)?
GB: I’m inspired by the way Mark Ronson, the British-American producer, DJ & musician, has a vision and style but curates and collaborates with different artists to create something new and fully formed. To pick an album, I’d say ‘Record Collection’ with the Business Intl, my favourite track ‘Somebody To Love Me’ featuring Boy George. Other favourite tracks include ‘Oh My God’ featuring Lily Allen, ‘Stop Me’ featuring Daniel Merriweather, and more recently his collaboration ‘Don’t Leave Me Lonely’ featuring YEBBA. He also does a lot of work behind the scenes writing and he co-produced Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’. Each collaboration brings something new and offers a new perspective to the artist.
I also find music helps in unlocking my creative flow state and staying in-flow when I’m designing, but for this I tend to favour intricately crafted electronic music that takes you on a journey.
In terms of Film, I’m inspired by the effortless cool, charisma and glamour of the big screen Hollywood style icons like Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Cary Grant and Lauren Bacall. Closer to home, Michael Caine looks great in eyewear and has a powerful presence, ‘Get Carter’ shows his authoritative charisma as a London gangster seeking vengeance for his brother's death.
Classic eyewear-in-film references, would have to include Jean Reno’s iconic round eyewear in his film ‘Leon : The Professional’ portraying a hitman-with-a-heart. Quentin Tarentino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ and the iconic ‘Reservoir Dogs’ opening scene where they’re walking across the screen in a slow motion sequence and music.
CC: What about the way people dress?
GB: I’m really inspired by how people dress. I was in Tokyo for a trunk show in Shibuya at the Trunk Hotel and I love Japanese culture and style. I find that attention to detail, appreciation of craft, and high level of service in retail reassuring. It’s interesting to observe the revival of high quality Japanese-made American-influenced military and workwear style. I like the way heritage is respected with the Japanese appreciation of British brands such as Lewis Leathers and the Sanders Military collection of shoes created for the Japanese market. An insightful point of reference is the well thought-out curation in the Clutch Magazines which capture the essence of the scene from an insider's perspective.
I love the avant-garde London street style taking influences from the new and the old, leveraging the history and heritage of English bespoke tailoring on Savile Row. London is so culturally diverse and open-minded that there’s such a broad spectrum of cultural influences to reference and designers and individuals have a willingness to play and experiment.
New York is one of my favourite cities for its energy, hustle, scale and sense of opportunity. There’s something about it which always energises me, I feel a strong connection to it, and there’s something about the pace and entrepreneurial outlook which supports ambition. I try to visit at least once a year, and have made bespoke frames and shot some stories for the Bold Journal with style icons Lono Brazil in the Lower East Side and have been planning another with Nick Wooster in Chelsea.
CC: What is your favourite style you have designed within the Bold collection?
GB: In terms of the shape that I personally favour, primarily for the reason it’s the shape that suits my face shape the best and I wear it the most, is the Brushfield.
All our shapes are intentionally designed to be worn as both spectacles and sunglasses, so in my current rotation I’m favouring some made to order Brushfield spectacles with different colour acetate on the front, crystal clear and sides, dark tortoiseshell. For good measure, I have another pair of Brushfield as sunglasses utilising a single colour acetate which has a layer of black and a layer of crystal clear within the one piece. From the front and outside the frames appear black but the inner clear layer adds additional interest and exposes the underlying construction and architectural detail of the rivets and diamond pattern wire.
The Brushfield wasn’t originally intended to be part of the main collection, it was a shape I made on the side as a personal pair I could wear myself. When I wore them out and about I found I was getting an unusually high number of unsolicited compliments from strangers about how they liked my glasses, to which I explained that they’re my collection we had a warm conversation. It got to the point where it felt like a sign worth not ignoring and they’ve been one of the favourite shapes.
CC: If you need a break from work/office where is your go to place?
GB: I like a change of perspective and movement shifts my energy and clears my mind, whether that's to walk, cycle or ride my motorbike.
I’m attracted to urban environments, the hustle and energy of people and the mix of stone, glass, highrise buildings and the way they reflect the changing light at different times of day. Saying that, I’m also drawn to being up high and find being by water incredibly calming, whether it’s a canal, pool, river or ocean.
If I have appointments around Shoreditch, Liverpool St or Bank I like the variation of walking down side streets seeing the mix of old and new architecture and the changing energy and contrast of walking from creative, to gritty, to historic, to corporate environment all within 10-15 minutes. My go-to place is usually a coffee shop, locally I enjoy Nude Espresso on Hanbury St which has a roastery onsite, and as I’ve been cycling more I’ve been going to Rapha, perched on the side of Spitalfields markets, they has a great in-house coffee from a collaboration with Colonna Coffee in Bath. On the subject of Spitalfields, I’m often there on Thursdays, the designated day for the antiques market. I like the discovery of vintage products, posters and design.
CC: What's your favourite restaurant in London?
GB: It’s hard to pick just one, so I’ll map out a day for you.
Brunch at The Good Egg situated on Stoke Newington High Street. Featuring Middle Eastern-inspired cuisine of Tel Aviv’s street food stalls. My current favourite being the Sabih - an Iraqi aubergine pita with eggs, fried aubergine, tahini, mango amba, dak dak, pickles and zhoug.
Lunch at Caravan in Kings Cross Coals Drop Yard, next to Central Saint Martins College of Art. A mix of fusion dishes from around the world, serving coffee they also roast on-site. Housed within a grade II listed Victorian Grain Store in a high-ceilinged industrial space.
Dinner at Roka on Charlotte Street. Starting off with a glass of some Japanese Shochu on the rocks, the ice hand-chiselled from a large slab that sits on the bar in the elegant and dimly-lit downstairs Shochu Lounge. Followed by Sushi and Japanese dishes sitting by the open Robata grill on ground level, my favourite being the Black Cod.
CC: What has been your lockdown routine?
GB: In lockdown I’ve learnt to be more mindful and grateful for what I have, I’ve been taking pleasure in familiar routines. My morning routine is to start the day with a fresh lemon hand-squeezed into hot water which is great for digestion, followed by an espresso using Redbrick coffee beans roasted locally in Walthamstow from Square Mile Coffee for a gentle kick-start. I don’t usually eat until lunchtime in the week, but enjoy brunch on the weekend - one of my favourites being the Bill Granger recipe for corn-fritters with avocado salsa and a poached egg.
As a result of the lockdown I’ve decided to optimise the time by deeper exploring the art and science of coffee and espresso and I invested in a cast aluminum and stainless steel manual lever espresso press and a hand grinder. Making espresso has become a reassuring routine. I weigh and hand grind the beans, pack and tamp the ground beans. I preheat the portafilter with boiling water from the kettle and gently pre-infuse the ground coffee before using manual pressure on the lever-press to extract the espresso, adjusting as I go.
I have a dedicated office at home so I’ve been working from there, I also have a simple studio setup for product photography so have been taking time to catch up on designs, photography and updating the website. We have some new English Bridle leather card cases lined with Suede which we’ll be launching soon, so I’ve been photographing those too.
I bought some card games remembered from childhood so we’ve been playing Uno and Monopoly as a family which has seen highs and lows with the typically competitive banter and heated discussions!
In lockdown, getting a break from the office means going for an off-road ride on the gravel bike into Wanstead Park and along a path that follows the River Roding, it’s a historic patch of Epping Forest owned by the City of London, or cycling to Queen Elizabeth Park and the canals by Hackney Wick and Victoria Park for some exercise.
Many thanks to Guy for taking the time to answer our questions, and for the photographs. You can shop the Bold London Eyewear Collection here.