No Shortcuts: Our Design Philosophy, Perspective & Process
Sunglasses Guide

No Shortcuts: Our Design Philosophy, Perspective & Process

At Sunski, we believe in creating quality products without shortcuts. Everything we make starts out as an idea, then goes through a rigorous design process from initial sketches all the way to the final product.

We also believe that good design is sustainable design, so we strive to create products that do no harm to the environment and will withstand the test of time. It’s our hope that your Sunski goods will be as loved and useful many years from now as they are today.

full view of the design sketch and development process for sunglasses

Full sprawl of the design process, from sketch to color selection!

Our Philosophy

Our no shortcuts design philosophy means making products the right way, with respect for our community and the environment.

We take our time and do it right. One of our favorite sayings (especially in our garage woodshop) is ‘measure twice, cut once’. We bring this approach to every step of our design process, because if you ask us, the planet doesn’t need more poorly designed crap.

We create timeless designs that are meant to last beyond the latest trend. While other sunglasses brands chase fast fashion, we focus on quality and timeless silhouettes that will never go out of style.

 ideas and sketches for sunglasses design

Even in the sketch phase, the sunglasses are visualized from all angles.

We choose sustainable materials that minimize our impact on the environment. From our invention of SuperLight recycled resin to create our sustainable sunglasses frames, to our solution-dyed recycled polyester materials of our carry collection, we’re always searching for a more sustainable option.

We manufacture with respect for both people & planet. This means auditing our factories for worker safety and fair wages, and challenging our manufacturers to implement more sustainable practices wherever possible. We never throw out old packaging boxes or inserts if we make an update to our copy, graphics or artwork when we have more left in inventory at our factory, even though we may want to get those new insert or box designs out faster. Discarding things like this would create unnecessary waste, and we patiently wait until all materials are used up before switching to anything new.

 sunglasses adjustments using calipers

We consider the full product life cycle. This includes minimizing the carbon footprint of our product manufacturing, shipping and packaging, all the way through to the end of the product life cycle. While we haven’t yet figured out how to recycle our recycled frames or capture carbon in the materials we use, we’re always tinkering with possibilities and searching for the next step in our dirt road path to greater sustainability.

We build our products to last and stand by them with our adventure-proof lifetime warranty. This means choosing the most durable materials, from the strongest polycarbonate resin to stainless steel hinges with lock-tight screws, as well as our lens replacement program which extends the lifespan of our sunglasses.

 sunski award winning sunglasses design

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Our Perspective

The design team at Sunski strives to design fun and functional products for living life outside. Our products are intentionally not super high tech or built for extremes–you might say it’s design for the rest of us. Instead, we’re focused on sustainable design that makes the outdoors more fun. Our goal is always to strike a balance between function and aesthetics – to make things that work really well and look good. Last but not least, we believe that great design is something that you don’t notice –which is why we make sunglasses so lightweight and comfortable that you forget you’re even wearing them until someone pays you a compliment!

the philosophy of designing and sketching the perfect sunglasses

At Sunski, we believe that:

  • Good design is sustainable design.
  • Good design strikes a balance between how it works and how it looks.
  • Good design is unobtrusive.
  • Good design makes the outdoors more fun.

Our Process

First Sketch to Prototype

Every product we make starts out as a sketch. Sketching or doodling is how we begin to understand and solve problems. Sometimes, this step takes years – we sketch an idea and set it aside, then come back to it when we identify a gap in our collection or our research indicates there’s opportunity in the market.

first sketches of sunglasses development

A lot of care and thought goes into the ideas and sketches

Once we decide to greenlight an idea for a new product, we then quickly turn our ideas into physical objects using various prototyping tools such as 3-D printing. This is a really fun part of the design process that involves sculpting, 3D modeling, cutting stuff out, epoxying things together and making all of our friends try out our designs to observe and learn whether or not the physical products are understood intuitively as intended.

From Cardboard to 3D Printing: We’ve Come a Long Way!

Cardboard has a special place in our hearts at Sunski. Cardboard is one of the easiest ways to quickly prototype displays, packaging, and before we got our first 3D printer, even sunglasses silhouettes.

Back in the early days of Sunski, we used to cut silhouettes out on paper and create orthographic tech packs to design new styles (a common method in the eyewear industry). Now we use sophisticated CAD software and a high resolution 3D printer for prototyping. This equals a more efficient design process and a better end product for you.

 development of the treeline sunski sunglasses

Field-tested prototypes make for an even sturdier end result!

3D printed frames are also easier to test out in the field in real world conditions. They don’t get soggy if it’s foggy or you’re sweating like a Gatorade commercial.

“Even at the 3D print phase, many of our frames are field tested outside. The Treeline and Velo were put to the test while skiing in Tahoe, mountain biking in the Santa Cruz mountains and used while running laps at Bislett stadium in Oslo,” explains Sindre Klepp, Sunski’s Head of Design.

Iterative Prototyping: Getting it Right

Prototyping and designing go hand in hand. We take our time during the prototyping phase, carefully refining our designs based on feedback, instinct and inspiration as it strikes. The most important part of creating good products is this iterative phase. Designs go from idea to prototype, which leads us to new ideas and new prototypes. This step is really exciting because our designs are constantly evolving and getting refined.

 Astra sunski sunglasses evolution and development

The design evolution of the sporty-but-stylish Astra

Ergonometrics: Sculpting the Perfect Fit

The perfect fit of your favorite Sunskis isn’t just a happy accident —ergonomics is carefully considered for every pair of sunglasses we make. Everyone is different, but we have created a process over the years that ensures we make the most comfortable sunglasses on the planet.

“We use the same CAD software used in the automotive industry to create Class A surfaces, which are super smooth, curvature continuous surfaces and transitions.” says Klepp. He adds, “Sunglasses are damn tricky to design and model. There is not a single straight line or 90 degree angle on any frame we make.”

 many types of sunglasses with varied fits and looks

Varied frames mean everyone has a perfect fit!

Each prototype is refined until we have a super comfortable fit we’re truly proud of. During this phase of the design process, we test and measure how a product works and fits on people of all different shapes and sizes. We carefully consider both aesthetics and functionality; The magic happens in the balance of both; A perfectly proportioned product is useless if it doesn’t fit right or is uncomfortable and vice versa.

Color, Finish & Pattern: Details Inspired By Nature

Next, we carefully craft each color, finish and pattern that is applied to our products. We work from an extensive color library that is totally unique to Sunski –often inspired by the colors we find in nature. From lichen to alpenglow to our favorite tree foliage, we’re always searching for color inspiration and cool color combinations when we’re out adventuring. This phase also starts with an idea that is refined through an iterative process.

 couloir sunglasses development

Phases of development on our alpine Couloir. Cool, right?

Manufacturing: From One to Many

Once the design of the product is finalized, we start the many steps it takes to bring it to life. We have to ensure that it can be mass produced, not just make a single beautiful one-of-a-kind product. Manufacturability is considered at each step throughout the design process. Sometimes, we have to create new manufacturing tools, processes and push our engineering partners to the limit to ensure the integrity of our design is brought all the way to the end customer.

 perfecting the technique design and process of sunglasses development

Sampling: Let’s Make This, Not That

The most challenging task is often when we look at all the final pre-production samples and make choices on what colors to bring to the market. Oftentimes, dozens of excellent frame and color combinations are left unseen by our community. These end up on our “Cool Stuff We Haven’t Launched Yet” shelf at our beach house headquarters.

Once the final decision has been made around which new products we are going to bring to the market, it’s time to go into production. Production is typically a three month process, which is actually pretty quick compared to the six to nine months it takes to arrive at a final design for each new product we make. See? We weren’t kidding about the “no shortcuts” part.


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So, there you have it, the nuts and bolts of our no shortcuts design process. At the end of the day, we’re a crew of outdoor adventurers and product design geeks striving to do the right thing for the planet. And we’re lucky enough to get to make great products for our community of radical humans like you!

Thanks for taking the time to learn about our design process, perspective and philosophy. We’re proud of what we make and the way we make it. Now that you know what goes into our products, we hope you enjoy using your Sunski gear on many adventures for years to come. And if you like what you’ve found here, help us out by telling a friend about Sunski.