The foundations of Tipton Eyeworks were laid in the Seattle Washington workshop of Zachary Tipton when the young designer first began making custom rimless eyewear in 1998. For three years rimless designs were produced – all custom made – and various techniques were experimented with as new ideas took form. Some parts were hand forged from titanium welding rods and others were cut from solid material by the same machinists who make Boeing aircrafts.
In 2001 Tipton began experimenting with new ways to make a unique plastic frame. After testing many materials, from acrylic to polycarbonate, he hit on the idea of using vinyl records. The unusual texture and color of the vinyl made both the material and the concept practical, interesting and appealing to work with. During the first years of experimentation and production, Zachary’s father’s personal record collection suffered some serious damage, so as the business grew, old records were purchased and made into frames.
In 2002 Zachary moved to Hungary where he found a factory which was willing to develop a vinyl frame that could be mass produced. A special method of joining cellulose acetate with vinyl was pioneered and the Vinylize collection was born. Newly developed methods of machining, tumbling and thermal forming followed.
In 2004 Zachary was joined by his brother Zoltán and the first successful collection was made, consisting of four men’s styles and four women’s styles in a basic range of colors. Tipton Eyeworks was officially founded and finally moved out from under the radar. However, the Tipton brothers needed more vinyl to fuel their creations. Their source of material was secured when it was arranged for records to be pressed in a Czech plant near Prague. A friend provided the recording material – some very cool grooves – and a large portion of the pressings were donated to the band, sold or given away. The remainder was recycled into Vinylize products.
In 2007 Tipton Eyeworks began pressing their own records and today they work side by side with musicians. Their recordings are mastered, cut, and then pressed and the albums are distributed across Europe, Southeast Asia and North America. The records that remain are recycled into Vinylize frames. In this manner, Tipton can guarantee the release of otherwise unheard music…and an ongoing supply of ready-to-use vinyl from which to construct their frames.
Later the same year Tipton Eyeworks released a new line of eyewear featuring celluloid film strip mounted in the temples. The Cinematique line is a combination of cellulose acetate, stainless steel and authentic 16 and 35mm film strip. This range continues Tipton Eyeworks’ unique take on eyewear, playfully re-contextualizing concepts of sound and vision with frames that make a statement as well as serving a function.
Today, Tipton Eyeworks continues to produce inspired designs and quality eyewear, cementing their reputation as a dynamic creator of edgy concepts and a superior finished product. These days the focus is on creating bold new design concepts while constantly working to improve the quality and functionality of their pieces.