Richard Mewha Designs Unique Luxury for Bevel

RichardMewhaBy Paddy Kamen

Anyone who wants to look more handsome or beautiful will be thrilled to encounter Bevel frames, designed by president and head designer Richard Mewha.

Mewha is a designer who can’t draw, a visionary of gorgeous eyewear who works with design partners to bring his ideas to life. His aesthetic philosophy is simple: “We design eyewear to enhance the face, complexion and hair colour. I see a lot of frames, especially at the trade shows that make the wearer look like she is dressed up for Halloween. I’m not conservative, nor am I looking to create something bizarre just so it will be noticed. Our frames are creative and interesting and made to enhance the appearance of the wearer.”

Mewha didn’t set out to become a designer but instead came upon it gradually, starting with musical-cultural influences. Growing up in punk rock-era England, he was into music and the fashion that went along with it. “Then I decided to go to business school, with the aim of working for a design or fashion company,” he says.

Landing a job with Alain Mikli in 1986 marked the beginning of Mewha’s fascination with eyewear. Hired as a sales rep for Paris, he was moved to New York City in short order, where he was promoted to North American sales manager by the time he was 25. Mewha was attracted to Mikli’s high-fashion eyewear (“bordering on bizarre,” he says) and thrilled that he, personally, no longer had to endure boring frames: “I had been wearing horrible eyeglasses that I was ashamed of, before I started working with Mikli,” he admits.

His next position was with Optical Shop of Aspen, a high-end west coast American retailer. “They were just starting as an importer of Matsuda and developing a wholesale business. Over time I became involved in production meetings with the factory. I learned how the design side and the product side work together to create saleable eyewear. My experiences there helped me to establish contacts with the top manufacturers in Japan.”

Mewha is a self-proclaimed ‘Japan-snob’ and has never considered making his frames anywhere else. His Japanese design partners understand what he wants to achieve and the quality is unparalleled.

The other key to realizing Mewha’s vision is Rick Nelson, an optician of 40 years, with whom he founded New York City-based Bevel in 1999. “Rick understands frames and lenses like no one else and together we find the balance between aesthetics, comfort and excellent vision.”

BevelFramesThe Bevel brand is distinguished by minimalist design, luxury materials and, especially, colour. “I love combining colours and follow my instincts, rather than fashion trends. In titanium, I have an affinity for pastels on the inside of the frame and an exterior colour that contrasts with the complexion of the wearer. In acetates I gravitate to deep, rich colours and multiple granular effects that have an earthy, three-dimensional feel to them.”

Always innovating, Mewha believes in the value of reaching for, and realizing new levels of design and craftsmanship, confident that discerning customers will appreciate superior products.

In recognition of their commitment to the technical side of eyewear production, Bevel was recently awarded a U.S. patent on a hinge they developed for titanium frames in 2009. A second hinge with strong visual design elements was invented for acetate frames in 2012. “The original hinge was designed to better tailor the fit of the temple to the wearer,” says Mewha. “The second hinge adds flex and a distinctive design detail.”

Another technical innovation from Bevel is 3-mm moulded titanium frames, launched in spring 2014. Mewha wanted to create a chunkier look while preserving the lightness, comfort and balance that are hallmarks of Bevel frames. The manufacturing process is complex and uses a total of six dies. Mewha explains: “We start with a block of titanium, which is punched out from a titanium sheet using the cutting dies, and then pressed twice using the other two stamping dies. The burrs left after stamping are trimmed using the trimming dies and then milled using a milling machine to smooth the edges.

“Once we have the frame, we polish it very thoroughly, and then it is coloured using electroplating for the shiny colouring. We then mask a part of the frame and hand spray the rest to get the matte finish on the other part. It’s been a huge commitment and we’re thrilled with the result.”

BevelAzzuriBevel continues to innovate with materials, aesthetics and technology, drawing ever more consumers to the retailers who are selected to carry their collections. Mewha still can’t draw, but clearly he has everything he needs to bring his visions to life, making women more beautiful and men more handsome with the addition of très chic Bevel frames.