Eyewear Boutique Store & Atelier
This bespoke eyewear boutique, located in the lively center of the chic Chiado neighborhood, is much more than meets the eye. Occupying two floors of an historic building, our complete renovation tells a story of multiple generations in a family of optometrists, whose passion for vision and beauty culminate in each perfectly unique pair of spectacles. Just like the glasses themselves, a client’s experience of selecting and designing them must be one-of-a-kind and unforgettable. The first setting for this intimate experience is the ground-floor shop itself. With a palette of refined oak, lacquered surfaces, marble, brass and brown leather, the shop is characterized by clean asymmetrical lines and a dynamic play of light and shadow set against slate-blue custom cabinetry and a background of bone-white tones in the structural walls and ceiling. Studio Astolfi designed and built a vast cabinet of curiosities that wraps the boutique walls like a second skin, where vintage and new spectacles nestle in cubbyholes among unexpected treasures and oddities ranging from pieces of taxidermy, to vintage optometrists’ tools, to mysterious gadgets and trinkets. The structure of the cabinet itself is full of surprises: drawers open to become tables, deep vertical drawers reveal hidden squadrons of spectacles, surfaces appear for display and testing and fitting. Every drawer, cupboard, niche, seat, light, mirror and panel was custom-designed and built by hand for a perfect marriage between the space and its intended contents and uses.
The boutique is the beginning: the chevron pattern in the oak floor opens to a narrow, tunnel-like staircase that descends into the basement. Here, oak railings are finished with brass, and incorporated lighting subtly illuminates the steps without visible bulbs. The staircase is a seductive liminal space that draws the visitor through a transition between two entirely different aesthetic experiences.
The grotto beneath the shop is where the magic happens, and the visitor is invited to bear witness. Here, wood, brass and microcement continue the sophistication of the upper floor, but the atmosphere is less refined, more raw and rough, and indicative of the work-in-progress that takes place in the optometrist’s workshop. This long and linear lair is crowned with the original vaulted ceiling of raw Pombaline brickwork, set off by gentle uplighting. The workshop itself, visible within a geometric fishbowl of glass and lit with suspended directed lighting to facilitate the work, features two or three artisans at any given time as they assemble bespoke spectacles on vintage machinery from flea markets, bazaars and dealers around the world. Vintage chairs accompany hand-designed furniture and walnut display cases inlaid with brass. Here, custom display cabinets reveal an entire history of craftsmanship and expertise: documents, books, photographs, sketches, drawings, tools and souvenirs tell the story of the optometrist’s family and the evolution of their work across a century.
More than just an eyewear shop, the André Ópticas shop in Chiado is a spatial celebration of the phenomenon of vision. Beauty meets curiosity, wonder, and surprise, and the vital joy of seeking and searching, and ultimately – always – seeing.
© Studio Astolfi