We recently sat down with our very own Jordan Percy (RAEN Co-Founder and Design Director) to discuss more about the creative process behind every pair of frames we make. Jordan has been helming the design ship since the first days of RAEN, keeping a steady course dedicated to craft, adventure, and high-quality eyewear. If you’ve ever wanted to go behind the lens, this is your chance.
How long have you been with RAEN?
Since day one back in 2009.
How’d you end up creating RAEN?
It was born out of a creative agency where we were helping build brands for other people, and we decided it was time to build one for ourselves. We started with the concept of an accessory and sunglasses felt like the right choice, with our first batch built around our Modern Classic design ethos – and we've been building on this ever since.
What jumpstarts the design process for frames each season?
I guess you could say it starts with our markets around the world - especially the European market, which for me is best expressed and experienced through travel. We regularly show in Milan, Paris, and Munich (a rough schedule, I know). Visiting these places not only help on a creative level, but they help us understand wider trends because it’s easy to get stuck in the California bubble. Eating local specialties, the journeys between main destinations, the people you meet along the way. Most often the conversation that yields the best ideas are the conversations after dinner over a glass of wine, not on the floor of the tradeshow or in the originally scheduled business meeting. These things simply can't be replaced by Zoom, and I can’t wait to get back out there someday.
What makes a successful design for eyewear?
It’s tricky because you’re making a product that’s one size fits all, but it’s impossible to fit all. So you have to have a range of shapes and sizes that compliment different face shapes. As a designer, you’re basically in a constant editing lifecycle - like constantly asking, “what are we missing?” and then how do we design to solve that.
Where do you look for design inspiration?
Museums are super helpful, like this one in Munich called Die Neue Sammlung. It’s amazing. I’ve snapped a lot of detail photos from there and we’ve worked some of those designs into a lot of our metal frames. Photography for me is a great way of thinking creatively, which kind of ties back into the travel element. And as weird as it may sound, a lot of my best creative thinking happens on a bike - like a really focused meditation of sorts, just breathing and spinning.
What’s on your playlist when you’re designing frames?
I really like listening to classic jazz and worldly electronic music, like this guy named El Búho. He’s English, but makes music based around his travels through South America. It’s wonderfully inspired stuff. I prefer music without lyrics while designing and developing product.
What is one part of eyewear design you’d like people to know more about?
I’d say acetate material in general. While it looks pretty and feels good, I don’t think everybody knows you can actually adjust it and make it fit you better than the day you buy it. The material reacts to heat, so you can heat the temples and adjust them to fit you better. And that’s a big benefit to buying from an optician, as they can help you choose the right frame and fit it to your face. Shout out to the independent, mom and pop optical stores. They’re the best!