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ic! berlin brillen GmbH is a German company which designs and produces high-end, handcrafted eyewear in Berlin, and distributes it worldwide. The company was founded in 1996 by Ralph Anderl.
ic! berlin produces eyewear from 0.5mm thick stainless spring steel sheet metal, using a patented hinge design which avoids the use of any screws, welds, or glue in the construction of their frames. The combination of materials and techniques allows their products to be light and flexible.
- 1 Foundation of company
- 2 ic! berlin
- 3 Awards
- 4 Collaborations
Foundation of company
In 1996 Anderl joined Philipp Haffmans and Harald Gottschling to help market their idea for screwless sheet metal eyewear in Berlin. Unable to sell the idea, the trio founded HGA Gesellschaft to produce and market eyewear under the brand ic! brille (pronounced “I See Brille”). Having no business education or experience allowed them to develop the ic! brand organically, as the three could approach everything with a completely raw perspective.
The first frame to be produced was ‘Jack’, weighing 20 grams, with an initial run of 50 pieces. Already understanding the power of celebrity, Anderl enlisted the support of two prominent German actors, Peter Lohmeyer and Corinna Harfouch, to promote the new brand by wearing the glasses to public appearances and in photo shoots.
ic! brille became ic! berlin in late 1997. Starting in a small apartment with a shop front in Max-Beer-Straße in Berlin-Mitte, ic! berlin quickly expanded into the neighbouring apartments before moving to the nearby Backfabrik in 2005. The shop in Max-Beer-Straße remains to this day.
While Haffmans and Gottschling focused on design and production, Anderl would take control of finance, organisation and distribution. Riding his bike all over Berlin, Anderl would visit potential clients and show product samples which he kept in extra pockets he had sewn into his coat. This strategy was repeated at ic! berlin’s first appearances at the Optika optical fair Cologne in 1997 and the following year at Mido in Milan: unable to secure a stand, Anderl would walk around the exhibition centre with a trench coat full of ic! berlin samples, much like those used by counterfeit watch sellers.
After creating a great deal of buzz in Milan, ic! berlin was gifted a small stand and showed officially for the first time at Silmo Paris, where it won the prestigious Silmo D’Or. This was the first of three wins at Silmo (1998, 2008, 2011). Since then ic! berlin has been a regular fixture at, and won top honours from, the world’s top optical trade and design fairs.
In 2003 the trio split, with Anderl remaining at ic! berlin as the sole Managing Director.
Under Anderl, ic! berlin has expanded into fashion, launching a line of jeans and collaborating with other designers and fashion labels such as [Kix], [Bathing Ape], [Luisa Hecking] and [Superfine]. Anderl continues to forge a strong relationship with the art world, frequently collaborating with photographers such as [Mathias Bothor] and [Lyle Owerko]. In 2013 renowned German artist and entertainer [Friedrich Lichtenstein] took up residency at ic! berlin an [ornamental hermit].
Today ic! berlin has over 180 employees worldwide with subsidiaries in Berlin, New York and Tokyo. Head office remains in the Backfabrik and has expanded over the years to cover three floors: design, production, dispatch, sales, marketing and service all happen under the one roof.
ic! berlin glasses get sold in more than 60 countries worldwide.
The company has received various awards for their product designs and technological achievements, including:
1998 Einfach Genial TV Award/MDR, Germany
1998 Golden Silmo Eyewear Award, Paris/France
1999 2nd of Mido Eyewear Award, milano/Italy
1999 Eyewear of the Year 2000/IOFT, Tokyo/Japan
2000 Eyewear of the Year 2001/IOFT, Tokyo/Japan
2002 Red Dot Award/Product Design, Germany
2004 Eyewear of the Year 2005/IOFT, Tokyo/Japan
2005 Eyewear of the Year 2006/IOFT, Tokyo/Japan
2007 Landmark in the Land of Ideas 2007, Germany
2008 Golden Silmo Eyewear Award, France/Paris
2008 Eyewear of the Year 2009/IOFT, Tokyo/Japan
2009 Eyewear of the Year 2010/IOFT, Tokyo/Japan
2010 Eyewear of the Year 2011/IOFT, Tokyo/Japan
2011 Golden Silmo Eyewear Award, Paris/France
2012 Eyewear of the Year 2013/IOFT, Tokyo/Japan
2011 V Award Gold – Sunglasses (Hong Kong)
2012 V Award Silver – Optical Frame (Hong Kong)
2012 Eyewear Of The Year 2013/IOFT, (Tokyo, Japan)
2013 V Award Silver – Innovation (Hong Kong)
2014 Inoptics Awards – Best Sunglasses, Best Female Frame (Delhi)
2015 Eyewear Of The Year 2016/IOFT, Sunglasses (Tokyo, Japan)
ic! berlin has produced designs in collaboration with Danish fashion label Bo Van Melskens, German/French design collective KIX, Jeremy Tarian, Freitag, and London fashion label Superfine.12 If You Like It, Like It!