Optical art: we’ve got eyes on Max Mara and Shantell Martin’s new collaboration

On the left, we see three sunglasses, with white frames and black details. To the right, we see a black & white line art detail.
Left, Max Mara has collaborated with artist Shantell Martin on a range of one-of-a-kind sunglasses. Right, a detail of Martin’s artwork. Photography: Roy Rochlin
(Image credit: Roy Rochlin)

With its art and film prizes for women, Max Mara has long been a proponent of female recognition in the arts. In November 2015, the luxury Italian label extended this encouragement to the field of optical design, collaborating with the artist Maya Hayuk on a reinterpretation of its studded sunglasses designs in kaleidoscopic ‘stained-glass’ form. Now for S/S 2017, Max Mara has paired up with the British-born, New York-based visual artist Shantell Martin on a limited-edition sunglasses collection, the doodle-inspired artwork of each pair unique to the wearer.

‘The collection is super playful yet sophisticated,’ Martin explains of the curving cat-eye designs, created with the Italian optical company Safilo. They each feature digitally reproduced sections of an expansive black pen illustration she created on canvas for the collaboration. ‘The fact no two pairs are the same really explores the idea of self-identity,’ she explains of the project, which is titled ‘Prism in Motion’ and conceptualised around the idea of the multi-faceted Max Mara woman.

Artist Shantell Martin working on an art piece for Max Mara.

Martin’s designs reflects Max Mara’s penchant for a neutral colour palette. Photography: Roy Rochlin

(Image credit: Roy Rochlin)

Martin's stream of consciousness style features scribbled words and abstract faces inspired by those she meets, in black marker on a white background. 'There is something magical about working with black and white,’ Martin explains. ‘People are often drawn to different areas of the work and rediscover new things on subsequent viewings.’

She used innovative techniques to create her Max Mara artwork. ‘I 3D printed this drawing tool which allows me to draw with multiple markers, or different thicknesses of markers at the same time,’ she explains.‘I used that to create the initial framework of the drawing. Then I filled these negative spaces with words, faces and characters that reflected the idea of movement and conversation.’

The use of black and white resonates with Max Mara’s own aesthetic; the brand is renowned for its refined and natural colour palette. Its most recent A/W 2017 collection features an exploration of browns, reds, greys and blacks. ‘Anyone can create a line, but a lot of time goes into making a simple black line recognisably yours,' Martin says.

Sunglasses with white frames and black lines, with a box that they come in. The box is white, with black line art by Martin.

Each pair of sunglasses contains a unique digitally reproduced design, taken from an expansive black line on canvas piece created by Martin

(Image credit: TBC)

Artist Shantell Martin standing in front of her art piece for Max Mara. Art is of black lines on white canvas, that represent faces.

Martin’s designs are made up of lines, words and abstract portraits of people that she meets. Photography: Roy Rochlin

(Image credit: Roy Rochlin ​)

A closer, detailed look at an art piece. Black line art that represents a face.

The use of black and white resonates with Max Mara’s own pared back aesthetic. Photography: Roy Rochlin

(Image credit: Roy Rochlin ​)


For more information, visit the Max Mara website, and the Shantell Martin website