In prehistoric times, during a particularly sunny day on which daylight bounced off snow and into an Eskimo’s eyes, he inventively carved a slit into a piece of bone and strapped the contraption across his face, effectively fashioning the world’s first pair of sunglasses. Prescription spectacles came later. In 1287, a monk named Salvino degli Armati properly invented reading glasses, not coincidentally at the start of the Renaissance period where larger numbers of intelligent classes and professionals meant a greater need to pore over the written word.
These days, optical sightings are much more common, although many visionaries are making extraordinary eyewear that goes beyond helping us see better. Visual artist Victor Hugo, through his Material Memorie collection, transforms sunglasses into costume pieces, flamboyant shades that look at home as part of urban street fashion, but really steal the scene at nightclubs, galas, haute couture runway shows, and other extravaganzas of life. Although he’s creating artifacts few have before, using ethically sourced tribal materials such as animal skulls, bones, and leathers and Swarovski crystals in what he calls a “macabre-luxe” style, his work harkens back to the days of theatrical pomp and flair, where grand entrances were characteristic of larger-than-life actors and life was just a cabaret. Like a traditional artisan, Hugo embellishes and decorates eyewear by hand, with production made to order and taking up to two weeks.
On the other hand, two sleep health researchers from Down Under have invented a solution to help those suffering from interrupted snooze patterns from staying up when we should be in bed. The Retimer looks like part of an Avenger’s superhero costume, and is the Kryptonite to ailments such as jet lag, insomnia, and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Put it on when you need to be awake, and an adjustable green glow mimicking natural sunlight coaxes your brain to keep working instead of shutting down for the day, so circadian rhythms can be regulated back to normalcy. Forget melatonin pills and other drug therapies – all you have to do is don this ergonomic contraption, which can fit over regular eyeglasses, and keep functioning.