Home » Blog » The General Aesthete

The General Aesthete


I’ve been wearing Costalots’ ‘Diego’ sunglasses every day for the past few weeks, and am very happy with them. The quality is evident in the feel, and the simple frames are smarter than the street standards. I also really like knowing where they came from, the hands that helped create them. Matt Costa and William Fry are the hands I’m talking about, the gentlemen behind Costalots. Matt kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the brand and their design philosophy.

Tell me about the materials used and the production of Costalots.

At Costalots, we try to make the traditional optical materials sing. We use cellulose acetate frames made in China. They had been made in the USA until 10 years ago. We are currently looking for remaining American plastic craftsmen to do small-run domestic frame production. If you are one or know one, please contact us!

Will and I work heavily on the frame finish stages, and then cut the lenses, and assemble and adjust the finished product. Nothing is farmed out, and we’re handling every piece ourselves – this definitely imparts feel and quality.

When I’m finishing the frames, I often use the tinting agents on other items, like jeans, shoes, and accessories. With this experimental process, a lot of ideas are born.

For lenses, we use Carl Zeiss. They’re made in Italy, and are carbon resin or poly-carbonate. Zeiss has serious optical quality nailed, they basically make your eyeballs feel good, especially when you spring for the polarized.

We bought hand-operated Italian lens-edging machines, which are dinosaurs, as far as the optical industry goes. We could have gotten a robot to do it, but our machines have soul, and are precision workhorses. The edging process culminates with the satisfying “snap” of a perfect fit, it’s better than bubble wrap!

What is your favorite frame/lens combination?

I love the sanded grey ’83′s’, with grey polarized lens – so cool, to the touch and the eye.

We use multiple abrasives to create a matte finish that has craft and feel. We leave the inside of the glasses untouched by abrasives, so they’re smooth and texturally dynamic. Will has been featuring the ‘New Habit’ in crystal, or TV yellow with grey gradient lenses. Also, we both love the black ’83′s’ with brown polarized lenses – these are the fiercest Costalots you can get.

Costalots read as smart, but with a utilitarian tone. Is that directness of design what you see dictating the future of your collection?

Absolutely! That’s our foundation, a little tension between a big hunk of utility and a splash of style. It’s also critical to highlight the importance of seeking fun, actual fun, and incorporating that into the design process.

The story of Costalots is a great example of the evolution of a small design brand. Do you have any tips or unexpected findings that you wouldn’t mind sharing with potential creative entrepreneurs?

Owning a small business can be very demanding. The risk is so worth it for the pleasure of being able to design independently, to attack what you want. For Costalots, it’s generating some new attitude for people’s faces. That’s where the magic is. It’s continually surprising when people like what you like. Let that feed the process and give you confidence for the next step, whatever that might be.

The ‘Behind Design’ portion of the Costalots site makes it very clear that your eye and interests are rooted in intelligent, beautiful design. Do you, or do you see yourself designing other objects?

We’ve both got an interest in objects de casa. I’ve been building wooden boats for the past couple of years. It blows my mind, the amount of functional, beautiful shit you can make yourself. I’d like to make furniture, knives, clothes, and spaces. Will makes minimal techno music by night, and is restoring a mid-century home by day. We share an absurd number of mutual interests that will, no doubt, continue to manifest into future projects.

What are some of your favorite examples of outstanding design?

Polaroid Land Camera, Nagra tape recorders, Roland TR808 and TR909 drum machines, Technics 1200 turntable, older Volkswagens, most anything Military spec, like a desert patrol cap from WWII, the diesel engine, wooden boats, old tools – anything essential and well-crafted, with art and purpose, like the Renny Yater spoon surfboard.

Glasses shown: Rose Sanded ’83′s’; Black ‘Diegos’, both $205

More at: Costalots


Tim Coppens’ S/S 2012 collection is a great representation of his capability as a designer. Heavy on outerwear, the collection combined Coppens’ mastery of athletic wear (having previously worked for Ralph Lauren’s RLX line), and elegant finishes that suggest formality.

See the collection at: Tim Coppens


By carefully considering vessel, arrangement, and habitats parallel to those found in nature, Jeffrey Schneider of James Modern Terrariums has artfully re-envisioned the terrarium. This exacting attention to detail not only provides a more stable living environment for the plants, but an undeniably elegant, modern piece of home decor. Jeffrey’s works are not simply a collection of pretty plants under glass, but a carefully executed arrangement, employing the Taoist principles of proportion and scale.

James Modern’s ‘Bespoke’ terrariums are collaboratively designed with each client, and consist of plantings in one-of-a-kind, biomorphic hand-blown vessels. The ‘Ready-Made’ collection features edited compositions that are both chic and low maintenance.

Jeffrey’s history in fashion art direction, and a love of plants (his parents were passionate gardeners, and he grew up collecting his own specimens), feed both his aesthetic and method. This commitment to perfection elevates the terrarium to an artful object with the charm of a peaceful micro-landscape.

James Modern Bespoke terrariums start around $500, Ready-Made terrariums around $100. Delivery/Pick-up is available in New York City. Terrarium components can also be shipped with detailed planting instructions.

More at James Modern Terrariums

Leave a Comment