A Deep Dive into the Craft and Inspiration Behind MUSU Eyewear

Can you share the inspiration or story behind the creation of MUSU? What drove you and your sibling to venture into the eyewear industry?

We launched Musu as brother and sister, Ryan and Célia. Growing up, we always found joy in creating projects together. We dipped our toes into entrepreneurship with a jewelry brand in high school, which was our first joint business venture. The brand was named “Musu,” after the Basque word for “kiss,” and featured a stylized mouth as our emblem. That initial venture left such an imprint on us that we decided to carry the name into our new passion: sunglasses. The idea sprouted from our family tradition of gifting sunglasses on special occasions, always in unisex designs, which inspired us to design our own collection. The sunny South of France and our hometown, particularly Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, also heavily influenced our decision.

What is the overarching design philosophy of MUSU? How do you define the intersection between style and elegance in your eyewear?

MUSU’s signature style was honed long before our launch. We envisioned a brand that embodied an unconventional luxury, one that’s intimately connected with the French Riviera’s splendor. Our aesthetic is infused with a sense of nostalgia yet is contemporary in its expression, drawing inspiration from the likes of Martin Parr’s distinctive flair. It’s all tied together with a uniquely French sense of humor, a homage to the films we grew up with and that have, in many ways, shaped our creative outlook.

At MUSU, we aim to craft statement pieces that are both impactful and wearable. Our designs are meant to withstand the test of time, with a focus on small-batch production to maintain exclusivity. When we discuss the intersection between style and elegance, we mean that our eyewear should enhance one’s outfit subtly yet significantly, even if it’s just a simple combination of a white T-shirt and jeans.

The first collection of unisex unique sunglasses was launched in 2021. Could you delve into the creative process behind this debut collection and the message you aimed to convey?
The creative process for our first collection started amidst the backdrop of London. While juggling remote classes of a bachelor degree, Célia sketched out the first designs. The Correos, the Vision, and the Salazard were the inaugural models that defined MUSU’s vision of blending elegance with boldness. Seeking craftsmanship that matched our aspiration, we turned to the historic eyewear regions of the Dolomites since we live right at the border of Italy. After some initial skepticism due to our youth, it was the eighth workshop we visited—a quaint, family-run atelier in the Cadore valley—that truly understood our vision. Their expertise was instrumental in realizing our designs, meticulously crafting over 50 stages of creation.

Quality is a key aspect for MUSU, with exclusive batches limited to 50 pairs per colour. How do you ensure the quality of your eyewear, and why is this such a crucial element for the brand?
Quality is paramount for us. We partner with a family workshop in the Italia Dolomites that has been honing its craft for over 73 years. This partnership ensures that each piece is made with the utmost skill. For us, luxury means taking care of exclusive products and fostering a mindful consumption pattern in today’s world— we believe in continuous improvement.

Could you walk us through the design process of creating a pair of MUSU sunglasses? From ideation to the final product, what are the key steps involved?
Inspiration for a new design can strike anywhere—on the streets, in museums, or through art. Celia often finds muse in paintings or natural colors, geometrical forms of architecture and so on. Once we have a concept, we embark on a detailed design and prototyping phase, followed by production in our Italian workshop.

Designing in the heart of the French Riviera and handcrafting in Italy is a unique approach. How does the geographical influence play a role in shaping the identity of MUSU eyewear?
The French Riviera is not just a location; it’s a lifestyle that’s steeped in relaxation, nature, and the art of slow living. Our connection to the sea and the interplay with the natural world is intrinsic to who we are. We endeavor to infuse this essence into every frame we design. The French Riviera’s palette of greens, blues, and maroons also deeply influence our color selection. While many brands draw inspiration from the Riviera, having been raised here gives us a deeper, more authentic connection to its real culture—the cuisine, the hidden spots, and the dramatic landscape where the Alps meet the sea. This authenticity is what we bring to MUSU.

Sustainability is increasingly vital in the fashion industry. How does MUSU integrate eco-friendly practices in its production, from the choice of materials to packaging?
We’re realistic about sustainability. No brand can claim true sustainability as long as they offer a first-hand product. However, we focus on responsible production processes and quantities, aligning with actual demand rather than overproducing. Our use of Bioacetate is a step towards reducing environmental impact, replacing harmful chemicals with plant-based ingredients compared to traditional acetate.

Attention to detail seems paramount for MUSU, from product to packaging. Can you share specific examples of the meticulous details that make MUSU stand out?

Attention to detail is the cornerstone of everything we do at MUSU: whether it’s the design of our frames, the creation of our visual campaigns, or the detailed workmanship of our packaging. Each pair of sunglasses is uniquely numbered, and a subtle Morse code inscription of ‘Musu’ adorns each temple, underscoring our commitment to detail.
Our packaging has evolved significantly from the simple boxes we started with. After a year of careful redesign, we’re excited to introduce a new packaging concept that is designed for an immersive unboxing experience and includes a personalized screwdriver for the care of our sunglasses. As for our leather cases, they are the product of careful craftsmanship at a family-run workshop in the vicinity of Pisa, Italy. Here, skilled artisans give new life to leftover leather from high-end fashion brands, transforming these pieces into elegant cases that not only protect your MUSU glasses but also carry the distinctive mark of our brand’s logo. We’re also excited about our upcoming book detailing our journey with MUSU.

Comfort and fit are often overlooked in eyewear. How does MUSU ensure that its designs not only look good but also provide a comfortable and secure fit for the wearer?
Ensuring comfort and fit is a meticulous process for us, involving extensive prototyping. We recognize the diversity in facial structures and involve feedback from our circle and opticians to refine our designs constantly. It’s an ongoing learning curve, but the effort pays off when customers note the unexpected lightness and comfort of our glasses.

As MUSU continues to evolve, what are your aspirations for the brand in terms of design, expansion, or perhaps collaborations in the future?
We aim to continue creating timeless statement pieces that are versatile throughout the seasons. While we’ll always have our unique MUSU twist, we’re also looking to introduce more classic designs to appeal to a broader audience. Expanding our color palette and venturing into metal frames produced in France are also on the horizon. Moreover, we’re looking to increase our physical presence in opticians and concept stores globally, making it easier for customers to experience our sunglasses firsthand.

January 4, 2024