One hears the word “artisan” a lot these days, but it’s remarkably rare to see an intricately crafted product like, say, eyeglasses, being put together by a single person in a single space. So we were understandably intrigued to find a custom frames shop that puts together frames from scratch in a small space on the Upper East Side, with the help of a lens grinder, finishing wheel, drill press, an occasional lens-tinting setup and countless other bits of industrial gadgetry.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Nader Zadi.
The glasses themselves are mostly nosepiece and rimless lenses, making them some of the lightest and least obtrusive frames you’ll ever wear. (Think of them as Moscot’s polar opposite.) And since the hardware is all sourced from vintage deadstock, they feel closer to something that was on-trend in the mid-20s.
The process starts with Zadi’s collection of vintage nosepieces, most of which have been sitting in factory storage for almost a century.
From there, he moves on to grinding the lenses, which is still done on a watered wheel. This is the automatic version, that can work from a template…
…but the half-moon lenses (like the one up top) have to be done by hand on this wheel, which means no two are exactly the same.
The next step is hand-drilling holes in the lenses to attach the nosepiece and the arms. If the holes are off by even half a millimeter, the glasses will wobble, so it has to be measured as precisely as possible.
There’s also a collection of reshaped vintage frames—but after seeing all the hardware at work for the rimless version, it hardly seems sporting.
- — Russell Brandom