Located in the labyrinth of curiosity that is Stables Market, General Eyewear is an independent opticians with a difference. Selling a curated selection of frames and sunglasses from 1750 to 1990 whilst designing and producing its own limited edition collection of frames and sunglasses, it affords discovery at every turn. I've gladly lost countless hours in the absorbing space, admiring all manner of frames and chatting with its ever inspirational and knowledgeable proprietor, Fraser Laing. For him, frames are far more than commodities, they are exciting and at times mysterious artifacts. Given his enthusiasm for craftsmanship and diverse design, I just had to ask him to show and tell his most treasured possessions. Here, he tells the tale of two seemingly unrelated flea market finds.
Fraser Laing and the essential market kit...
"Given the logo I think it is Swiss. It's not that old, from only 1975. I've googled the markings but can't find out anything more about it. So I can't tell you who used it or where it came from for sure but i has been suggested that it is either Swiss Army or from one of the other military services. It has got a metal base that makes it quite heavy but it's so sturdy, I can't imagine anything going wrong with it. I picked it up in a flea market in London. For me and a flea market, it was quite expensive at fifty pounds, even the guy selling it knew that it was an extraordinary thing. It's been well worth it. Despite its weight, I use it all the time. When I go to markets it is essential that I have my hands free to look at things and with some bags there's a chance that you could leave it behind but I wouldn't forget about this one."
"My second choice is quite different on first sight but I actually picked it up in the same place, just at a different time. I go to this market in Wimbledon religiously on a Saturday morning. It always manages to throw up the totally unexpected, it's not edited or anything so it is always surprising. Basically, this item is a case for a sugar bowl and a spoon. It manages to feel menacing yet is made from papier mache, is cheap in terms of materials yet would have required a great deal of labour. It is the essence of what design should be. Functionality is never enough. If it were just a matter of functionality then the world would be a dull place.
It is the dichotomy between the outside and the inside that fascinates me. It is very conscious of itself, the designer wanted to make this hard black shell. Both choices are designed object. That's what interesting to me. It got me thinking fashion going back to industrial design. For me, fashion is industrial design. It's just that the objects desire level has to be greater in fashion, that's the only difference. There's always going to be more razzmatazz around a handbag than a train." Fraser Lang.