How great design can have great social impact

Case Study

Wires

It is becoming more commonplace for people to question where the products they buy are from and the commercial industry is slowly responding with more sustainable designs and processes. Buy Impossible actively seeks out products which make a difference to people’s lives.

One of these is Wires sunglasses, which combines old traditions with new opportunities and technology. Inspired by African wire craft, a practice that since the 16th century has turned strings of metal into all sorts of objects using just a skilled pair of hands, Wires sunglasses bring the custom to an entirely new audience, creating jobs in the process.

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The skilled pair of hands working to create wires for Wires belong to Mako, a Zimbabwean wire craft artisan who has his own workshop in Harare. Ordinarily, wire craftsmen would have worked in Zimbabwe’s shrinking agricultural sector but with Wires, traditional skills can be protected as part of a healthy business.

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“The concept was to create a fun object with a minimum environmental impact and maximum social impact and with no consideration of trend or market reality,” said Yair Neuman, the designer behind Wires, from his London studio.

The copper is locally sourced and enamel-coated, making them smooth to touch and hypoallergenic to the skin in a colour that will last for years. In a meeting of ancient tradition and tech, the wires are fashioned into sunglasses with 3D printed black and white lens holders and high quality pc lenses – all made with zero waste, and in compliance with international standards.

“When wearing Wires, I hope people will feel part of a project that supports people in other parts of the world,” said Neuman, “Everyone should have a chance to use their skills to make a living.”

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