11 November 2020
by Idha Valeur

Recycling dummy lenses into lamps

Dummy spectacle lenses from high street opticians find a new home in interior lighting.

© Jonathan Minster

Yair Neuman, a London-based designer, has taken dummy plano lenses used in opticians and turned them into lamps in collaboration with Cubitts – an eyewear brand. The aim is to reduce the amount of lenses ending up in landfill. These lights have been switched on in displays at Cubitts’ store in Coal Drops Yard close to King’s Cross, London, UK.

The lenses are made from optical-grade polycarbonate. Neuman has created a sheet-like material by fusing them together using heat and pressure. ‘The process starts with sorting lenses according to material, thickness, shape and coating colours. I then create patterns working with these elements. After fusing, the lenses are turned into flat sheets which I then manipulate into various shapes using specially designed moulds, jigs and by free hand. The process took about a year to develop and refine and now allows me to create a wide range of objects and structures,’ he explains. 

‘Witnessing the enormous waste generated in the processes of selling eyewear was the beginning of this project. A small optician’s shop bins 200 new display lenses a week on average. By simply collecting these lenses, experimenting to make a new material, we now have, in effect, a new supply chain. Cubitts has been singular in their support to make this installation happen. Most of all the Lens Lights are designed to be aesthetically pleasing, thought-provoking and honest.’ 


Idha Valeur