Henrik Lindberg, CEO of LINDBERG Eyewear, received his degree in architecture from Aarhus School of Architecture in Aarhus, Denmark in 1985. He subsequently joined LINDBERG, which grew out of his family’s optical store in Aarhus, and to this day follows the philosophy of giving consumers a sense of comfort and individuality in their eyewear. Here Henrik talks about how LINDBERG maintains its unique niche in the marketplace.
BETH SCHLAU: How does having an architectural background impact on the eyewear designs?
HENRIK LINDBERG: When you study architecture in Denmark, you also study product designs, so my interest from when I was quite young was in some kind of overall design. There is some influence from architecture-different ways of working with materials, for example-but also as an architect, I look for new ways of doing things. It’s very much a challenge as to how thin can we go, how light can we make it, etc. We invest in the most advanced tools so we can cut the acetate very thin and control the layering. We are one of the few companies in the world who does the design, technical development, tooling, and manufacturing all ourselves, as well as selling directly to the eyecare professional (ECP).
I also use that way of thinking in the way we run the company-I take a problem or situation and turn it upside down to see if we could do things in another way.
BS: You’re saying it expands the way you do business?
HL: Exactly. You will not find an academic way of thinking at LINDBERG. We try to do things differently and utilize opportunities when they occur. We have also been lucky because new possibilities appeared at the right time. For example, the European Union has made selling across borders in Europe much easier; we were the first company in Denmark to utilize toll-free phone numbers, and we quickly became DHL’s largest customer when it started up in Denmark due to our many single frame packages. This way we could negotiate fair prices and the ECP could get tailor-made frames in a few days. And if you look at the management of LINDBERG, it’s a very flat organization.
BS: What are the advantages of doing all the creative and manufacturing yourselves?
HL: It’s huge because it gives us the ability to turn around basically a custom frame in six to seven days anywhere in the world, from when we get the order from the ECP until the ECP receives the final frame. We don’t have a stock of frames, just the components. As soon as we get the order from the ECP, we get the parts together, make the requested coloring of the tints, do a final adjustment, and then we ship it out. We manufacture the parts in Denmark but our factory in the Philippines puts the components together.
BS: Does titanium continue to play a large role in your product mix?
HL: Definitely, because there are so many advantages with titanium-its light weight, flexibility, hypoallergenic characteristics, and ability to control the color. And the more difficult our product methods are, the harder it is for other companies to copy us.
BS: Your new n.o.w. collection uses a composite material. Why is that?
HL: Normally LINDBERG uses 18- karat solid gold, platinum, titanium, acetate, and buffalo horn, but it has always been my goal to make a frame that was extremely light but more visible. The n.o.w. collection is hand-polished to get the very best quality of the edge. And when we finish the frame, we add a hardcoat, similar to what we do on the lenses, so it’s anti-scratch and offers UV protection.
BS: LINDBERG’s marketing materials offer ECPs a minimalist, yet eye-pleasing, way to showcase the frames. Is this part of your strategy?
HL: We try to keep it as simple as possible. Because many of our products are so thin, if our display material is too dramatic, then you don’t see what it is-a frame. A new concept we’re using in the optical stores, for example, are hangers so thin that you see floating frames.
BS: Your frames run the gamut from affordable to high-end luxury. Has this approach worked for you?
HL: We say if a person is from newborn up to 100 years old, we can find a frame for them, so we have something for everyone. The funny thing is, we are selling more expensive frames than ever before.
BS: Why do you think that is?
HL: It could be related to the design of the frame, to the quality-that you actually can see a difference in quality between our frames and mass-manufactured eyewear. And we don’t have that many competitors in this range.
BS: Will the combination of design and technology continue to be a part of producing LINDBERG frames?
HL: It will be the most important part of it. Until five years ago, our collection was somewhat masculine, very technical. But we have changed our philosophy so that we now have a fashion aspect in combination with the design and the technical solution. We have no plan to change this because we know it makes us stronger than other companies.