Meet the Maker: Sweet Wooden Shades by Steven Kilzer of Capital Eyewear
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Meet the Maker: Sweet Wooden Shades by Steven Kilzer of Capital Eyewear

Even though summer may be winding down elsewhere, it’s just starting to warm up here in San Francisco! (No really, yesterday was the first day in two weeks that I didn’t wear a pea coat. Crazy, right!?) And, we all know that a new pair of sunnies is one of the best warm weather accessories. That’s why our latest edition of Meet the Maker proudly features Steven Kilzer of Capital Eyewear. Capital is an awesome independent eyeglass design and manufacturing studio based right down the street from us here in SF.

The first thing to know? These are not your average shades. Each pair of Steven’s glasses are handmade from start to finish in his SOMA studio. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen—every frame you buy from Capital is 100% unique and handcrafted. Big kudos. As Kilzer explains, “we make a functional work of art that represents an honest connection between you and the people who made them.” Want to see his work in action? Check out this awesome Vimeo video to see Steven and his team getting down and dirty.

I’m seriously swooning over his Morgan glasses in cherry hardwood. The craftsmanship is absolutely stunning! If you want to check these glasses out in person, you might be interested to hear that Steven will be joining us at Re:Make on October 5th!

Are you hooked? Read on as Steven fills us in on his sources of inspiration, his favorite design, his advice for other makers, and more!

First thing’s first, tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Steven Kilzer and I own and operate Capital Eyewear. We design and craft high quality sunglasses by hand in San Francisco from materials such as wood and plant based plastics.

When did you first realize you love to make?

I’ve loved to make things as long as I can remember, but before I made glasses, I mainly worked in the digital world.

What does the making process look like?

Things start messy and as processes get perfected, they get neat and tidy.  We aim for the laboratory vibe in our studio.

Why did you decide to start Capital Eyewear?

Most of the eyewear industry (Ray-Ban, Oakley, Sunglass Hut, Oliver Peoples, Alain Mikli, Persol, Lens Crafters, Pearl Vision etc.) is owned by the Italian corporation, Luxottica. They’re about as close to a monopoly as you can get, which is inherently bad for consumers. We’re trying to shake that up by making glasses that are a functional artwork rather than a commodity.

Where do you get your inspiration?

So many places. Classic cars, boats, the outdoors, reclaimed wood, Dieter Rams stuff–anything beautiful can be a great source of inspiration.

How do you come up with your collections? Do you design them yourself?

We design all of our glasses in house.  Many are inspired by vintage designs but it’s important to build on what’s already been done.

Which design are you proudest of? 

Our limited edition Henry frame is one of my favorites. It’s a half rim frame with a gold metal rim on the bottom. At the time of it’s release, it was the first wood frame of it’s kind in the world.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?

Use the right tool for the job. 

What other creative hobbies do you have?

I love to shoot photos and video. I need to surf more.

How do you think the analog world is changing as the digital world continues to boom?

As people’s lives become more digital, their appreciation for well made analog things grows. People nerding out over Vinyl records, well made shoes, old cars etc. gets me excited. “Less but better” is appreciated more and more as we realize we what we actually need or don’t need.

Have you fallen in love with Capital Eyewear yet? Then don’t forget that Steven will be joining us at Re:Make on October 5th. Stop by Fort Mason from 11am-6pm to pick up a pair (or two) of his stunning shades.

Know any makers we should profile next? Leave us a note in the comments or shoot us an email at hello@brit.co!