Interchangeable lenses, resistant, light, comfortable and sustainable. These are just a few of the many promising values that eyewear brand Nina Mûr stands for. The brand has a visible passion for creating beautiful products that combine high technology and craft. We were curious to get a peek into the refreshing take on such a secular product, and talked with the designers behind the brand.
You both run the design and development agency Fikera & Quiche. Why did you decide to create an eyewear brand besides doing this? 
Davide: The idea of the project emerged long before we started the agency. Lorena comes from a family of opticians and has a far-reaching history with glasses. Since she was young, she helped her mother spotting trends and independent brands. Due to her passion for this accessory and her vocation for design, it was just a matter of time before Nina Mûr was born. The brand started as an in-house line of Alohe Optics in Madrid and little by little we have been growing.
Lorena: After having faced some challenges concerning the production that come along with a commercialized industry, we realized that we had to find our own way. We set the goal that we wanted to work with the same precision as the industry but with a more controllable quantity. Only like that we can ensure the highest quality of our product. This is how we ended up manufacturing the glasses ourselves here in Madrid.
What is the story behind the name Nina Mûr? 
After lots of trials, errors and improvements, we eventually named our brand Nina Mûr for the following two reasons: on the one hand, “Nina” is an homage to Nina Simone and the values that she represents, such as creativity, authenticity, strength, and courage. On the other hand, “Mûr” is a tribute to Camille Claudel’s artwork L’age mûr. In French it means “mature”, which felt right at the point in time when we were launching the brand. Beyond all of that, Nina Mûr simply seemed to work: it sounds good and it’s easy to remember.
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How do you divide tasks between the two of you, given your different study backgrounds? 
Davide: Lorena is the first one who thought about the project, as she grew up surrounded by glasses. She has a degree in Marketing with a master’s degree in Creativity and Art Direction. At Nina Mûr she is in charge of the creative direction and the design of the glasses.
Lorena: Davide has the gift to realize what I am thinking. Brought up in a furniture factory owned by his grandfather, he has always been surrounded by people working in the wood and interior design industry. He himself studied Architecture in Florence. Nowadays he works as a graphic as well as industrial designer. For Davide, design is not only about creating something on paper or on screen, but also about producing it and making it reproducible. 
One of Nina Mûr’s values is innovation. Where and how do you find the latest technologies to create the newest designs of eyewear?
When we talk about innovation we think in terms of concept rather than technology. Most techniques we use have been there for a long time, it is more or less the way we apply them and our general approach to eyewear what makes Nina Mûr innovative. We actually believe that you could be innovative without using technology at all.
Nevertheless, it is true that we work with high technological standards. With our amazing partner we have developed a new software that allows us to cut wood in an innovative way. Thanks to this, the shapes of our glasses are very precise, even though we use a small CNC machine. With the software we are quite flexible with regard to design and quantity. In this way we can produce both unique pieces and glasses for a bigger audience. You could say that we work as digital tailors. We are artisans who do not deny the advantages of modern technology, and we are designers who also produce.
Some other promising values are quality and honesty. Can you describe how these values are translated into the brand? 
All of our products have a very high quality because we use the best components that are available on the market, and because we manufacture them with the highest precision possible. The birch wood comes from a reforested cultivation in Finland. Its natural properties and the way we manufacture it to plywood ensure that the glasses are highly resistant to water and extreme temperatures.
Honesty and respect are the foundation of Nina. We try to do all the things we make well, and we do not only take care of the product but also our team, the planet and our customers.
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How does the process go from idea to final product? 
First of all we work on the concept that will form the foundation for our designs. Then we start experimenting on paper until we can translate the final drawings into digital 3D patterns. In order to manufacture the eyewear, we have to prepare the material first. We layer more than 25 fine sheets of wood to build plywood, which eventually is formed and curved through high pressure. Afterwards, we cut the frames and temples out of the wood with a CNC machine. Finally, we manually assemble the glasses piece by piece. They have to be put together, sanded, polished, and varnished. The pressing process alone takes more than 16 hours and so it takes about two weeks to produce a single pair of glasses.
What is so special about the lenses in Nina Mûr glasses? 
The lenses we use are from Zeiss, the same ones that Kubrick used to shoot his art film Barry Lyndon and the same ones that the NASA trusted to document their Apollo mission. Zeiss lenses are simply the best ones you can get. The remaining components come from OBE Germany, a leader in micro engineering. 
Right now you have the Mobile and the Ebru collection online, both with very interesting concepts. Can you tell us a bit more about how you approached these collections and how their concepts came into being? 
“Mobile” is Italian and means furniture. This collection consists of a few key models with plain colors that are easy to carry and to combine. Their industrial finishing is made from laminated layers of pressed cardboard and it’s crafted in Italy. You could call it our basic line.
The Ebru collection was inspired by a trip to Turkey. In Istanbul we discovered the art of marbling, a fascinating way of aqueous surface design. Patterns are created by drawing with bright paint on water and are then transferred to an absorbent surface such as paper. We were fascinated by the concept and history of this technique and decided to apply it directly to our wood. Since it is not possible to reproduce the same design, all the models are truly unique. Marbling is actually called “ebru” in Turkey, which explains the name of our special collection.
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You aim to create eyewear that goes beyond a passing trend, which adds up to sustainability as well. How do you make the designs in a way that they won’t go out of fashion?
Just like in fashion, there are certain items that never go out of style. We are trying to achieve the same with Nina Mûr designs. The foundation for all of our shapes is always classic eyewear models, like for example the Panthos. We look back at the heritage of eyewear with an eye on future trends, and in this manner we want to create glasses that are contemporary, yet timeless. We believe that our glasses have a spirit and their own personality. We are aware that creating new classics is easier said than done, especially nowadays, but it is what we wish for and it remains our focus on a design level.
Nina Mûr has done collaborations in the past, are there any special projects you are particularly proud of?
We cannot really choose a particular one, we are very happy with all of them. Our collaborations always teach us something new, and on top of that we get to know many interesting people. In fact, we believe in the power of collaborations and in the future we would like to push the possibilities of such synergies even further.
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