Karl Annus gave attendees of the bus tour as part of Disainiöö (Design Night Festival) the chance to take a rare look inside his small workshop on Teliskivi, Kalamaja, Tallinn.
Karl has caused quite a stir in Estonia and beyond with his hand-crafted wooden spectacles, which have become a sought-after accessory for many, albeit an expensive one (Karl charges upwards of 300EUR for a made-to-measure set, produced using his own tools, to fit exactly the wearer's head). He explained to an interested group of visitors including me that the process involves taking paper-thin slices of wood (some of which is hardwood from rainforests, however sustainable wood is available), gluing multiple strips together, and then setting them in shape around a guide-piece, and cutting the frames down to size.
Everything is produced solely by Karl, although after he completes his studies at Tartu University he is open to the possibility of expanding his company. In the meantime, the waiting list for these one-of-a-kind frames, which either come as static or hinged, is one year and counting - although there are ready-to-wear examples on sale for those who cannot hang on for that long.
The explanation of Karl's design and manufacturing process was fascinating - although I articulated concerns over use of non-sustainable material in some of the frames. The end product is quite beautiful, and the talk interested keen designers and those with more of a passing interest, like me.