After an almost five hour drive, there was brief pause in the rain as we pulled wearily into a innocuous housing estate in a village just north of Glasgow. Despite the Satnav’s insistence, we weren’t in the right place. Such is the secrecy and mystery shrouding the actual location of Banton Framework’s loch-side workshop. “Pass a gold sign, pull into a lay-by, bear left over a humpback bridge and make a hard left onto a dirt track. Head straight on until you reach the end of the lane and its the last house on the right” Banton’s co-founder Jamie told me on the phone with pacenote efficiency. This was more like it.
After chatting over twitter for a few months, I had met the couple behind Banton Frameworks, Jamie and Lucy, late last year at McNair’s Made Beautifully Here event. I was there on official business and they were busy talking customers through their collection of UK made, precision engineered eyewear so we only had chance for a brief catch up. This time though, with a warm welcome awaiting us, and some amazing coffee made on Jamie’s pride and joy - the coveted La Pavoni espresso machine, we had a whole afternoon to talk shop and learn about why the pair are so passionate about UK manufacturing and beautiful, functional design.
Having met at university, Jamie Bartlett and Lucy Ross founded Banton Frameworks in 2012. Inspired by the UK’s industrial heritage, which once included over 1000 eyewear manufacturers, their approach to design is focussed on functional, well considered, understated aesthetics that transcend the wasteful nature of momentary fashion. Their workshop is testament to this approach.
Nestled under a leafy canopy by the shore of Loch Banton, two sheds contain everything the pair need to design and produce the best eyewear truly being made in the UK right now. The sound of rain on the roof and the natural light flooding in from a long side window of the main shed give the workshop a homely feel. An array of tools, many of them designed in-house and custom made to specification, line the walls and benches. Jamie’s other pride and joy (and possibly his best friend) - his riveting machine, sits proudly next to a pneumatic press of his own design, built specifically for Lucy to stamp the bridges into their frames. This is the way at Banton; If you can't find the tools you need, build them. It’s this ingenuity and resourcefulness that give the pair an edge over their competition and imbue their glasses with a special, intangible quality.
As they have grown, the pair have sourced suppliers and manufactures throughout the UK to help them transform their designs into physical products. While most of the processes are performed totally in house, they work with other UK based partners that specialize in anodizing and metal machining to ensure the best possible finish and fit. With over 40 processes involved in making one frame, quality materials are at the heart of the manufacturing process. The finest acetate from Italy and aerospace aluminium combine with custom five barrel hinges and highest quality optical glazing in perfect harmony.
There is a special kind of pride to be found in the Banton Frameworks workshop. A pride in process, practise and place. Jamie and Lucy are proud to be the eyewear manufacturer that turns out the UK's best eyewear in a shed at the bottom of their garden on the shores of a Scottish loch. They are proud of what they have learned, slowly and sometimes painfully. They are proud of the process and practices they have developed over almost five years of hard work. They are proud to do it together, here.
Banton Frameworks recently successfully funded their new Profile collection of sunglasses on Kickstarter and are about to embark on launching a new optical collection which will be available later this year.
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