America's Finest: Spectacle Eye Design

New Arrival Supplies Low-Key Cool to Austin, TX

When optometrist Dr. Collin Tam spotted a retail space in the Rosedale neighborhood of Austin, TX, he knew he had found the perfect spot for an optical store able to cater to the city’s diverse tastes and understated cool.

“We picked this location because of the uniqueness of the area,” Tam says. “We are close to funky cafes and coffee houses, so there is a cool buzz in the air.” The University of Texas, Austin’s tech and music industries and the bustle of state government all mean the city has been ripe for a highfashion eyewear boutique with a wide selection of artisanal eyewear designs plus state-of-the-art vision care.

That’s what Tam and his staff had in mind. And from fabulous décor that sets the stage for exciting eyewear discoveries to the still-unexpected use of an iPad to ring up those sales, Spectacle Eye Design mirrors the best of Austin: unpretentious, accommodating and relaxed, without sacrificing quality or expertise.

The optical boutique celebrated its grand opening on Burnet Road in August 2013 and was an immediate hit with Austin eyewear enthusiasts seeking more refined styles, as well as those looking for something fun. Spectacle Eye Design’s staff aims to make each client’s experience one of a kind, from the satisfied Yelp reviewer who said the shop’s vibe reminded him of a Vegas hotel — “I visited Spectacle yesterday for the first time and man, did it make an impression” — to his 5-year-old son getting his first eye exam. (“He giggled and had a great time while finding out he is in excellent ocular health.”)

The shop’s elegant yet hip interior was designed by Richard Weiss and Laura Salmo of Weiss Architecture. “Our aim was for a beautiful and comfortable space for our customers to explore and be creative,” explains Tam. “We have easy-to-reach displays for them to try anything on and we provide plenty of mirrors and advice and recommendations are always available from our professional staff.”

Tam says that Austinites have developed their own exclusive styles, and it’s no longer enough for most clients to simply sport a popular or celebrity-inspired look. Instead, they prefer that their signature essential accessory be one that is both unique as well as distinct — and with Spectacle Eye Design’s selection of hand-polished and handcrafted items, customers can expect to get a look that is theirs alone.

Our aim was for a beautiful and comfortable space for our customers to explore and be creative.”
Dr. Collin Tam

Eyewear is selected by the Spectacle Eye Design’s resident optician, Jana Lewis, who has more than 20 years experience. Lewis attends top trade shows, and will even shop privately for patients who have outlined specific desires for their glasses.

In both the optical dispensary and the full-service optometry clinic, Spectacle Eye Design is outfitted with cutting-edge technology. “Our testing area features a stateof- the-art auto-refraction system feed directly linked to the computerized vision tester in the exam room where I conduct the testing,” Tam says. “The results are wirelessly fed to the front desk. We also have the newest visual field analyzer and corneal topographer to detect any signs of glaucoma, macular degeneration and corneal disease that may go unnoticed by patients.”

“All the equipment is connected to our paperless electronic records system where any errors are minimized and stored securely,” Tam adds, noting that his goal is to have patients feel confident that they’re being taken care of both medically and visually. The business uses a high-quality, privately owned lab that features Zeiss lenses.

“We are trying to merge the concept of style, form and function,” Tam says. “Austin is a technologically savvy city and at the same time very fashion-oriented. We blend the two to produce high-tech results in medical and vision care, along with eyewear curated by myself and my staff. As a team, we take great care in knowing each other’s skills to produce a high quality product and service to each and every customer.”

HANDS-ON Spectacle Eye Design prides itself on its hands-on approach to selecting eyewear. The frames are readily available to try on; they are not locked away behind glass. The staff are ready to give their best advice and opinions for customers to make the right eyewear choices.

2 THE ART OF DECORATING Don’t get Dr. Tam started on the subject of his boutique’s wallpaper. Because he will go on about it. “The wallpaper was spotted in a dress shop in London,” he says. “It was hand-painted and so beautiful, and it really made an impression on us. We created our own version for the store. We went through the arduous process of having a custom designer print, ensuring of course that we overcame any copyright issues. And we love how the end result looks! We also have this amazing, large mirror in our office that is red and baroque in style. People go nuts when they see it! The mirror was picked out before we were even sure on our wallpaper.”

3LET THERE BE LIGHT The store was designed around a chandelier — a red one. “We officially called it Operation Red Chandelier,” says Tam. “As Operation Red Chandelier was commencing, we ended up sourcing some beautiful clear crystal chandeliers, and instead of one we decided to take four.” The shop also has sensational red Lucite frame display boxes, featuring halogen lighting to highlight frame colors.

4AN AMBIANCE TO REMEMBER Music and mood are key in the store. Says Tam: “We provide a certain ambience fitting the allure of the frame selections. The music we play ranges from jazz, world beat to classic ’80s depending on the mood.”

5HIGH-TECH IS THE FUTURE The boutique features state-of-the-art equipment and plenty of new technology. “We want patients to get a quality eye health examination and the most accurate prescription for their glasses and contact lenses,” says Tam. “We are also paperless and wireless. It’s a great way to work.”


TIME FOR A CHANGE / “We once had a customer who changed her entire look in one day. She was middle-aged and came in requesting a more youthful, fun appearance! She had just moved to Austin from the Midwest to put more pizazz in her life. I started to frame style and was quite surprised that she was drawn to a rather large zyl white cat’s-eye with a glitter back! When she came in for dispensing, her hair was cut and dyed hot pink! She looks amazing with those big cat eyes!” — Shared by Jana Lewis

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