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Why did you decide to enter the 100% Optical eyewear design competition?

I've always been interested in the fashion accessory market and thought this would be the perfect project to apply the materials I'd been experimenting with in the final year of my textiles MA. I really liked that it was a live project that was connected with industry so it seemed like a fantastic opportunity. 

As the overall winner of the 2016 competition, how has it helped you develop your career?

Winning the project led to a short placement with Cutler & Gross working closely alongside the creative director which was a great experience as I got to contribute many ideas. Having the project in my portfolio has led to pieces of press, great job interview feedback and interest, and I've developed so many technical skills and processes since. Winning the project gave me the confidence to expand my concept into a small eyewear collection which was exhibited alongside jewellery and furniture pieces as part of my graduate collection. 

Will you be attending 100% Optical 2017? If so, why?

I would like to attend this years show as a source of inspiration to see what the latest trends are in style, design and materials.I had such a fantastic time at the show last year, meeting leading figures in the industry and learning about so many brands that I wasn't aware of previously. 

Are there any brands that you’re looking forward to seeing at the show?

I'm always excited about Linda Farrow and L.a. Eyeworks frames. As well as from a design perspective that aligns with my own personal taste, I think their branding and styling is really strong and contemporary.

What exciting projects do you have in the pipeline?

I've just started a position at a design consultancy working with the CMF (colour, material and finish) team, so I'm excited about the projects I'm currently working on, most of which are top secret!

 

What inspired your design for the Couture category?

The concept for the eyewear was inspired by the textures, colours and patterns found in London’s summer sunsets and urban environment. The resulting frames are surprising, entirely one-of-a-kind, and display an unexpected, organic pattern; interrupted with metallic beads, translucent rubber and holographic glitter. 

Jen Cheema