The weather outside Milan, Italy was gloomy, but the mood inside was downright party-like at this year’s 46th annual MIDO Milan Eyewear Show 2016. At the invitation of the Italian Trade Commission, Design Milk was invited this year to experience what turned out to be an overwhelming surprise in scope and scale, a trade event dedicated to eyewear in every form and fashionable imaginable. For three days, the world of eyeglasses and sunglasses converged in Milan to celebrate the spectacle of spectacles with design in focus.
Boutique brands showcased their wares inside sections designated for more daring and innovative debuts, and it was there where we discovered the majority of our favorite designs on display. Innovative use of ecologically sourced materials of unexpected nature, hinge-less looping forms, the application of marble and chainlink metal onto the face of sunglasses, and intricately 3D printed designs all helped expand our vocabulary and appreciation for eyewear.
Designers from Italy (the center of the eyewear universe), other European nations, Asia, and the Americas unveiled new eyeglasses and sunglasses in carefully curated and decorated exhibition booths that would not have looked out of place at CES in size and detail, ranging from global licensing giants to single-person operation brands. It’s not an exaggeration to say MIDO was on par with any consumer electronics, automotive, or fashion trade event I’ve attended in the past.
In hindsight, I didn’t really know what to expect from my first MIDO. My expectations were modest, imagining a typical trade event with a sedate atmosphere. How wrong I was. The Italians take their eyewear – and the business surrounding it – very seriously. Equally so, those at the show seemed to recognize an unspoken appreciation for “business before pleasure…but pleasurably so”, with a palpable celebratory vibe amongst exhibitors and attendees alike. MIDO turned out to be one of the most exciting and design inspiring design shows we’ve attended, attributable to the international attendees, the festive exhibits, the fashionable people, and of course, the endless amount of eyewear on display. This year’s MIDO theme was advertised as “Never Ending Wonder” and it’s fair to say the show lived up to this promise.
Below are a dozen favorite innovative designs from MIDO Milan Eyewear Show 2016: