Case Study: See Better to Learn Better

Key Issue: How can partnerships with local businesses fulfill local needs?

In Mexico, many school children who need glasses go without for economic and social reasons. In this project, Yves Béhar created a free eyeglasses program in partnership with the Mexican government and Augen Optics. The collaboration led to a collection of customizable and iconic corrective eyewear specifically designed for students, ages 6-18.

The children needed glasses that are durable, ergonomic and customizable. To meet these needs, Béhar designed the glasses in two-part frames that allowed the kids to mix and match 7 colors, 5 shapes and 3 sizes. The glasses were designed to be worn beyond the classrooms utilizing advanced Gilamid plastic, with its hyper-flexible property, making them practically indestructible.

Beyond the design, the key to making this project work lay in the economics. Béhar contracted with local optometrists to provide eye exams for about $1, while the modular, mass-manufactured glasses cost just under $5 each. The combination of material technology, design and business partnerships made this project successful.

What kinds of partnerships can we strike with local businesses? Can we identify manufacturers that would donate new materials they want to test for construction applications? Can we combine new material technologies with salvaged rubble to construct new housing?

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