Optics French Style - Silmo

Every year in autumn in Paris there is a grand Optical Fair, Silmo, a chance to get a first-hand look at the new trends in frame designs, for lenses and new technology in optics.

There was a palpable sense of anticipation as we walked from the train across the forecourt to Silmo. Sporting a limp, courtesy of a collision with a fare jumper hurdling the metro gate, I was not exactly sure what to expect.

The show was as big as everyone had promised; at times a bit overwhelming. The two large halls dedicated to Silmo at the Parc des Expositions exhibition centre in Paris Nord Villepinte had definite themes; Hall 5 seemed colourful with flamboyant frame designers and stands, while Hall 6 had clinical equipment and lots of brands, which were less familiar to me, plus all the lens suppliers.

I walked miles visiting all our suppliers. Making contact with frame designers from the other side of the globe gave me insights into the story of the products we stock and use to help people in Warkworth on a daily basis. For me, however, the true high point was the one-on-one time I spent with some of our key brands: Alan Peterson from Monoqool kindly spent a fascinating hour talking to me about his vision for the company and the challenges of developing his 3D printing process.

Robert Morris, founder and creator of William Morris Eyewear and Claire McDonald

Robert Morris, founder and creator of William Morris Eyewear and Claire McDonald

Technology and customisation featured everywhere. I talked with a young IT whiz about his app to put virtual stock onto customers faces. There were frames made from paper and lens cloths made from recycled PET bottles. At the Hoya Lens stand, Hoya executives were scanning faces to design a customised lens with a 3D printed frame, optimising Hoya’s lens’ performance. I am not sure if people will want customisation at the expense of choice in frames however, though it was a nice touch to see all Hoya’s staff wearing the frames, giving a uniform effect.  

The stands at Silmo Paris ranged from highly creative to slick; with orange Dutch cows, American milk bars (complete with rock and roll dancers) and a British double decker red bus; call of which is impossible to experience without considering our own street appeal.

by Claire McDonald, Optometrist