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When It Comes To Cool Lighting Ideas, These Six Opticals Are Really Switched On

They don’t just illuminate frame displays; they create a whole vibe.

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AS AN OPTICAL retailer, you’re selling clarity of vision and fashion worn on the face. What could be more important than store lighting? If you’re in the planning stages of a new or revamped optical, lighting should be one of the primary considerations, taken into account from the very earliest stage. Even if you’re just looking to spruce things up, well-chosen lighting can be completely transformative. Most designers break lighting down into four categories: ambient (general), accent (to spotlight an area or product), task, and decorative. The most striking and well thought out spaces usually make effective use of all four. Keep in mind that periodic changes in decorative lighting can make the most of a season or holiday — and don’t forget that sometimes effective lighting means no lights at all (think skylights or a well-placed window). Here are six businesses that make striking use of lighting to illuminate opticals, spotlight frames or just create a vibe.

Black Optical interior

Black Optical
DALLAS, TX

Gary Black and his team at Black Optical in Dallas, TX, pride themselves on being able to offer their curated frames in a setting that keeps the focus on the eyewear, and allows it to shine. Appropriately for a store that’s utterly devoid of P.O.P. displays, branded frame areas or other visible efforts at merchandising (in fact it barely even displays its own logo) an elegant glass pendant light on a long cord not only casts an even light over the marble floors, white gallery shelving and walls, and wood and leather fixtures in the stunning showroom, but subtly draws attention to the island counter housing a selection of high-end frames.

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Discerning Eye interior

Discerning Eye
IOWA CITY, IA

Discerning Eye in Iowa City, IA is a sleek, bright and welcoming optical with industrial and neo-classical touches. Owner Joni Schrup knew the space — a former art gallery — would be perfect for showing off the stunning collection of carefully curated eyewear that has become the store’s trademark and hung memorable candelabra-style chandeliers to illuminate the proceedings with appropriate elegance. This is a business that knows and feels comfortable with its target market. “We sell luxury eyewear and we don’t apologize for our prices,” Schrup says: a mission statement underscored by the store’s luxurious overhead fixtures.

Great Spectacles interior

Great Spectacles
STOCKTON, CA

In a truly unique touch, the fringe chandelier at Great Spectacles in Stockton, CA, is made up of optical prisms, providing a literal “focal point” for the space, says owner Lynda Winter, who during a renovation a few years ago decided to vault the ceiling exterior and interior to create volume without adding to the store’s 950-square-foot footprint. Environmental LED lighting, skylights and the focal point prism fringe chandelier combine to enhance the warm and inviting space, ensuring that every square inch was utilized and reinforcing Winter’s belief that “beautiful surroundings never go out of style.”

Look-+-See interior

Look + See Vision Care
AUSTIN, TX

When Dr. Tammy Vo was setting up Look + See Vision Care in Austin, TX, she wanted patients to feel they were “in a modern space…but not too modern. The type of modern that lets you know you will be receiving the most advanced care with up-to-date technology without that sterile, all white, white lab coat feel.” The resulting space mixes some rustic charm with industrial aspects, including concrete floors, exposed aluminum ducts and — perhaps most impressively — striking LED lighting reminiscent of a modern art installation. While discreet track lighting spotlights the frame displays, the slinky white tubing suspended from the ceiling serves as a reminder that lighting can do more than just illuminate the optical; it can lend it a distinctive character. “Vibes,” says Vo. “Honestly, our office gives off great vibes.”

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Eye Candy Optical Pinecrest interior

Eye Candy Optical Pinecrest
CLEVELAND, OH

“The mood needs to be different on the retail floor versus the exam room,” says Steve Nelson, co-owner of Eye Candy Optical Pinecrest in the suburbs of Cleveland, OH. A combination of track lighting, sleek pendants and spherical fixtures featuring mini-bulbs achieve this nicely, bringing out the optical’s bright colors while illuminating the circular array of custom European display counters. The fun, funky feel is fitting for a store just miles from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It also helps to answer the question Nelson and co-owner Anton Syzdykov posed for themselves when they opened the store: “What if Victoria’s Secret and House of Blues opened a glasses shop?”

Western Reserve Vision Care interior

Western Reserve Vision Care
BEACHWOOD, OH

Western Reserve Vision Care in Beachwood, OH is a decades-old practice especially renowned for the strength of its eyecare, with its six female ODs providing a particularly extensive array of services with the aid of dozens of support staff. So it’s only appropriate that it took the concept of decorative lighting to the next level: the sleek white lighting fixtures suspended above the stylish office have an eyewear theme, looking great and reminding customers why they came as they check out the brightly backlit frame selection and wait for their eye exam.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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