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The world's first concrete sunglasses available for purchase

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Since winning the industrial design category of the 2017 PPC Imaginarium Awards, South African architect Handre de la Rey has partnered with studio 20 EIGHT to launch the world's first pair of concrete sunglasses available for public purchase. The design is based off his winning entry, CS Project, which explored the possibility of creating a pair of ultra-thin sunglasses that push the perceived boundaries of cement. And pushing these boundaries is what 20 EIGHT specialises in – the studio's own, innovative work with concrete as a medium made it the perfect partner to bring Handre's latest venture to life.

Having been showcased at a number of prestigious galleries and events throughout the year as part of PCC Imaginarium's travelling nationwide exhibition, CS Project has been well received. The competition, which challenges emerging creatives to express their talents using Portland cement-based concrete, is one of the most supportive in South Africa, striving to propel careers through mentorships, cash prizes to the value of R500 000 and public exposure. The inspiration for Handre's project came from the work of Japanese architect Tadao Ando, whose use of bold geometry, clean proportions and concrete informed the design process.

Production of the current sunglasses design is limited to 1 000 units, with each pair meticulously handcrafted and individually numbered. Conventional clay and resin moulding techniques are used to produce them, after which a 1mm-long silicon skin is added around the master rim to prevent breakages. Once the cement is properly cured, the components are sanded and sealed. To assemble the frame, two concrete rims are connected to a 3D-printed bridge and interchangeable temples. The sunglasses weigh only 100g, making them lightweight and functional.

'Developing CS Project has been a challenge, albeit one we have thoroughly enjoyed. We're extremely happy with the finished product and are currently shipping our first batch of sunglasses to Canada,' says Handre, who is also in the process of developing a nylon version. Locally the stylish concrete sunglasses, available in stone grey and black, are on sale at GUILD – a new design destination in Cape Town's buzzing Silo district. They're also available for purchase online via the 20 EIGHT website. Visit 20eight.co.za to snatch up a pair or find out more.