There is a place in the north of Sweden where the nights are dark, long and freezing. During winter, the sun barely rises and the darkness wraps up everything. But there are days when the sun never sets, it arrives at the edge of the horizon and it remains there for an indefinite time. Hard to say whether it is day or night, the light of the Northern Lights eluminate everything and the stars sparkle vividly in the sky. This place is Lapland, a strip of land where the balances are delicate and the nature is so majestic and at the same time fragile.
EOE was born on a bright and snowy spring day in 2010, during a snowmobile ride in the small village of Ammarnäs, a handful of houses between the ice and the snows. The beauty of the place strikes Erik and Emila, the founders, with force. How not to be breathless in front of the rarefied colors, in the light that floods the landscape and the sharp line of crevasses and mountains. The horizon seems endless, the time, the conventional one made of hours and minutes, suddenly disappears. Earth and sky seem to melt.
Erik and Emilia take inspiration from what surrounds them and who love them most. Together they draw a collection of spectacles that combines the Nordic design, made of clean and essential lines, with respect for the environment. Each piece is inspired by the surrounding nature, it is simple but with a strong visual impact, the shapes are precise, sharp, minimal, at times sparse. Impossible not to be fascinated. Completely biodegradable and recyclable materials.
In a few years they become the leading brand in northern Europe in the production of 100% sustainable eyewear, in 2019 they prepare for a new record: re-use the scrap acetate to create new frames. Their plan is simple and ambitious: to minimize the environmental impact and preserve that enchanted land called Lapland.
TALKING WITH ERIK & EMILIA…
EOE borns in an unusual way, what is the unexpected?
The combination Swedish Lapland meets eyewear I would say. We use materials never been used in eyewear before, like reindeer antlers and small pieces of birch together with Swedish recycled steel.
In 2010 you started the first collection in the World of sustainable eyewear. A visionary concept. Can you tell me what moved you?
EOE was born on a bright and snowy spring day during a snowmobile ride in the small village of Ammarnäs in Swedish Lapland. The crisp air and the scenery over the snow covered mountains really moved us. We created a collection of eyewear that combined the elegance and simplicity of Scandinavian design with the barren beauty of the nature in Swedish Lapland. The heritage from the Swedish north is reflected both in the names and colors of the eyewear, not least in the details and materials brought from the wild and beautiful nature. And from there the inspiration and vision has just become clearer.
Sunglasses and opticals are a tough battlefield. Giant players, well established labels, blazoned foes… I dare say it’s also very difficult to create something really new, due to kind of product, functionality and small sizes. Why did you choose the hardest path?
I would say that the best thing when starting a new brand is to know nothing about the industry (laugh)! We didn’t understand how huge the giant players were or how exact a pair of eyewear must be when making the drawings, which actually was good. It kept us open minded and creative in the design, which made us stand out.
Have you ever thought it wasn’t a good idea?
Yes several times . One must remember that being an entrepreneur and running a business is not always easy, and since we started in an industry that we didn’t have any knowledge about, we often found ourselves trying to overcome obstacles we had no idea how to solve. From the start me and Erik made some of the drawings ourselves and the fitting wasn’t always the best when the glasses arrived, so after employing our designer we definitely had less of a headache (laugh).
Let’s talk about the collection. EOE concept is obviously something different, functionality and glam coexist, you could be the “Prada of eyewear”… Unluckily sometimes being so far beyond can ruin but help. What about you?
Yes I understand your point, and I remember in the beginning when no one really cared about us telling them about our sustainable collection, people were used to buying eco grocery but not when it came to eyewear. But I really feel that that has changed. People have knowledge and interest in the climate change today, so they are more eager to learn more about what we can do in the future and how you can help by buying from brands with transparency.
I love the way you mixed together Scandinavian heritage, geometric forms, natural vibes and imagination, the past and something futuristic. It’s a risk but you have been able to balance it as best. What is the formula?
The biggest part is that we always go back to our roots, our heritage and the nature up north to find inspiration. And we combine that with the classic Scandinavian clean forms and simplicity. But I would say that the formula is that we never loose our self and what we believe in.
Can you explain me your creative process?
The crew always goes to Lapland, just to “smell the nature” and we start brainstorming. It can be a certain light, stones or just a sound. We also go to fashion shows since it’s important for us to see which way the fashion industry is taking. Then we try to find materials that goes together with idea we are working on. Then we start with the shapes and colors.
How long does it take to create a pair of glasses?
Making eyewear takes over 100 steps! And when you add the drawings, finding inspiration, making photoshoots I would say it takes about a year to create a pair of glasses.
Let’s talk about the new collection. What is about?
Our inspiration is always from the North, since its a never ending source of inspiration. Just imagine the nothern lights, snow and fresh air. So this time our collection is inspired by the small villages here in Lapland, it can be a rimless clean frame designed after a small village that has an famous icy lake in the middle of the village…
Any prevalent theme or material?
Yes materials are always close to heart. We use acetate without fthaltes, which is 100% biodegradable. But also steel which is recycled.
Plans for the future?
We are actually working on a totally word unique new material. Our recycling project where we collect eyewear from stores (people leave their old,brokens frames) and turn them into a new world unique material. 100% closing the loop.
The last thing you do before going to bed…
I always have a cup of warm water with magnesium in it, makes be relaxed before sleeping.
And the first thought when you wake up…
Wonder how it comes that an 2-year old can be so alert at 5am every morning?