It was back in 2013 and 2014 when the “wooden sunglasses of Syros” had caused quite a stir. The eyewear series, an example of Greek design at its best, was created by two young Greeks living on the island of Syros who managed to make wider impact despite beginning from scratch. Their unusual initiative emerged as one of those stories the media loves to cover.
Like all good ideas that seemingly come from out of the blue, the Zylo Eyewear initiative popped up in the minds of Periklis Therrios and Eleni Vakondiou one morning. Until then, Periklis had pursued carpentry as a hobby while Eleni had an interest in design. As they say: “We spent about a year making sunglasses at home and nobody knew anything about it. We tried, glued and broke various pairs until we finally got them to the level of durability and quality we were striving for.” Financing was another challenge, but the issue was swiftly resolved after Periklis and Eleni heard about crowdfunding methods as a source and decided to set up their own web page which included a short video presenting the duo and their plan. Peter Economides, a renowned brand strategist, immediately picked up on the effort and posted the duo’s video on his Facebook page. Some 1,500 euros had been raised within the first hour.
“Each pair is unique and has been made using a different part of the boat with the color that happens to cover that part”
Nowadays, 29 of the 30 steps entailed in the process of making Zylo Eyewear products continue to be performed by hand. A team of four people, including Periklis and Eleni, are involved. Sizeable blocks of Greek walnut regularly arrive at the team’s workshop and are cut into thin sheets. The eyewear frames and arms are laser-cut. The pieces are glued together and cleaned with a rotary brush before finished with a concoction made with bee wax and olive oil that is prepared by the duo. A jar of this wax-and-oil mix is provided with each pair of sunglasses purchased and may be used to smoothen any wooden surface rough spots, should they appear. While made, each pair of sunglasses requires about six days to be perfected. A lifetime guarantee is offered. All Zylo Eyewear designs are fish-themed, which is not surprising as the sunglasses are made on the island. They are unisex, except for the Pandora design, which is female-inclined. Comfortable and light, these sunglasses weight about half the weight of regular sunglasses and come in two sizes.
The latest Zylo collection, numbering 150 pieces in all, is titled Grégos, named after a northeasterly wind that helped Venetian merchants sail back home during the island’s Venetian era. Quite appropriately, the limited-edition Grégos eyewear line is made of boat wood, or, more specifically, an old fishing boat that once belonged to Eleni’s grandfather. “He was known as the ‘wet one’ because he had a habit of diving into the water in his clothes to remove whatever got caught along his long line of hooks and would then return home drenched,” Eleni explained. When her turn came to take over the boat, after a three-generation lifespan, Eleni decided its continuing journey should be shared by 150 people. “Each pair is unique and has been made using a different part of the boat with the color that happens to cover that part. The boat’s colors were faded and frayed but weren’t sanded down for the sunglassses,” noted Eleni. Take them out to the sun, where they belong.
“The latest Zylo collection, numbering 150 pieces in all, is titled Grégos, named after a northeasterly wind that helped Venetian merchants sail back home ”