Eyelet Flip

Nanyang Optical Co. Pte Ltd

Crafted from surgical stainless steel and block titanium, the Eyelet Flip offers function and convenience for the wearer, particularly those suffering from long-sightedness or presbyopia, a condition related to ageing where the eyes have difficulty focusing on objects that are near. The innovative design of the Eyelet Flip lets the early presbyopia patient simply flip down a pair of lenses that allow for close-range activities such as reading. Many of these patients choose not to wear progressive lenses because of cost, unwillingness or unsuitability.

The full-rimmed frame front of Eyelet Flip is attached to the block titanium top bar with a specially developed hook structure. Unlike other flip-ups, which use conventional screws for hinges that require constant tightening after a while, Nanyang Optical’s alternative vision solution employs a hinge spring created with high-tensile stainless steel for reliable spring effect. The front end of its frame is attached to the temples with the company’s patented hinge technology that maintains the spring effect, minus screws, for optimal comfort on the face and ears.

“The real value of Eyelet Flip is its functionality. We studied conventional flip-ups, which are failed products. After the lenses are flipped up and down with repeated use, the screws loosen and they remain down, making (the flip-up) redundant”, says Nanyang Optical’s chairman Yang Wah Kiang. “In the improved version, we have designed and developed the hinges of each pair of Eyelet Flip to withstand stress tests at 10,000 flips over a seven-day period. Our innovative hinge has proven that it can deliver consistency and functionality for users”.

When paired with sun lenses, the Eyelet Flip shields the wearer’s eyes from sunlight and offers a wider vision field without any visual constraint. This is especially useful for the wearer when driving or engaging in outdoor activities. Even when paired with prescription lenses, the eyewear places no additional stress on the nose bridge.

In creating the Eyelet Flip, Wah Kiang feels his team has fulfilled the President’s Design Award’s vision for design to make a difference to lives. “The ageing population in Singapore and around the world is increasing. A high percentage of middle- and old-aged folks suffer from presbyopia and need to remove their glasses when reading or doing near-range work. Opticians usually recommend progressive lenses or reading glasses. But progressive lenses are not for everyone and reading glasses are troublesome as they will need to be taken on or off. Conventional flip-ups have failed. Eyelet Flip provides wide-angle vision and can serve as a vision aid for people with specific job roles, such as surgeons and dentists. They enable wearers to see better and offer convenience”.



A recipient of the Design of the Year award in the President’s Design Award 2009 for its innovative Urband Origami eyewear, the Nanyang Optical product and industrial design team is lauded again this year with the award for its Eyelet Flip.

Having devoted much of his life working with optical technology and in eyewear manufacture and design, company chairman and design team leader Wah Kiang is adept at applying existing technical know-how and technology to the design of innovative eyewear. The Eyelet Flip is a testament to that.

Keen observation and responsiveness to feedback characterise the team’s approach to designing. “We value feedback and suggestions from our customers, sales representatives and internal teams to seek improvements and understand how real users feel before we embark on designing a new collection”, says Wah Kiang. “A lot of time is spent on observation too”. An example he cites, is the Eyelet range for children, Eyelet Junior. “We made trips to playgrounds to observe children at play. We see them actively jumping around and having fun, but the children wearing glasses have problems enjoying their play as most of the time they are fumbling to push up the frames that are sliding down their nose bridges. This is a product flaw”.

From this observation the Eyelet Junior was born. “Designers need to be observant to discover solutions to existing problems and cater to consumers’ needs”, he points out. When working as a team, Wah Kiang says it is important that all members share a common objective and work with a goal in mind. “For our design team, we work towards reliable products that are practical, deliver consistent functional needs while ensuring quality in our products. Communication with each other is important too, and everyone needs to play their part in the team. To achieve this, each person needs to pay attention to details”.

Explaining why he thinks the President’s Design Award has influenced designers and the design field in Singapore, Wah Kiang says: “The platform encourages and inspires local designers to be innovative and creative. It allows us to understand that good designs can add value to a product, and hence contribute to the Singapore economy. Such products help to enhance the lifestyle of users, and aid the designer to venture out of Singapore and open up more opportunities. It’s also a good chance for fellow designers to learn and understand each other’s work”.


Nanyang Optical Co. Pte Ltd
Yang Wah Kiang
Zhang Andong

Insights from the Recipient

What is the responsibility of a designer to the community or society?

Yang Wah Kiang: It is never about designing for a purely aesthetic purpose. We push the envelope on other design frontiers and keep a laser sharp focus on functionality. For the Eyelet Flip, we asked how we could enhance the functionality and performance of eyewear, and improve the wearer's lifestyle. Zooming out for the larger perspective, we hope we can encourage and motivate more young aspiring designers to join the design community, Together, whether directly or indirectly, we develop, and contribute to, the better living of Singaporeans.

Advice to Emerging Designers


1. Be persistent and accept rejections. Always learn and improve. Design work is a long and challenging route. It’s inevitable to go through trial and errors, and make mistakes along the way. These are learning journeys that will bring new inspirations too.

2. Be observant. See and learn from our daily lives. There may be elements to incorporate into design work from things that are often neglected or overlooked.

3. Aesthetics, functionality and quality are must-haves in a product. Pay extra care to these aspects to create better products.


Jury Citation

This is a pair of spectacles that has a flip function using an innovative leaf spring hinge design. Traditionally, optometrists specify progressive lenses for users who require two levels of sight function. Existing flip-up spectacles have design limitations and fail in function due to their reliance on a screw hinge that loosens following multiple usage. The designers set out to redesign the existing offering, resulting in a patented leaf spring hinge that is also used in the side arms of the spectacles. The hinge system was tested for 10,000 cycles over a seven-day period and it still operated with full functionality.

The Jury praised the use of titanium in the construction of the spectacles. This premium material adds to the overall design aesthetic, resulting in a beautiful synthesis of form and function. Even though the designers incorporated additional functionality with a flipping lens system, there has been no compromise on form. As a stand-alone pair of spectacles, it is elegant and sophisticated, with perfect proportions.

Another clever design feature is the ability for users to change the lenses without the need for screws. New lenses can simply be snapped in.

The Jury commends the attention to detail and was unanimous in its decision to select this project as an outstanding example of design excellence.


Nominator Citation


The Eyelet Flip eyewear is an ingenious design. Some presbyopia patients choose not to wear progressive lenses due to cost, unwillingness, or simply because they are not suited to wearing progressive lenses. The Eyelet Flip provides an alternative vision solution, giving presbyopia patients flexibility and convenience.

To pair with prescription lenses, simply flip up the frame-front. The Eyelet Flip offers the wearer not only the convenience of not having to remove their glasses for reading or doing close-range activities, but also a wider vision field without any visual constraints. When paired with sun lenses, the Eyelet Flip shields the wearer’s eyes from sunlight, and provides clear vision. This is especially useful for the wearer when driving or engaging in outdoor activities.

The full-rimmed frame front of Eyelet Flip is attached to the block titanium top bar with a specially developed hook structure, unlike other flip eyewear that uses conventional screws and hinges that require constant tightening of the screws (which loosen after being tightened a few times). This is the reason conventional flip eyewear has never gained popularity.

The Eyelet Flip hook structure, on the other hand, is durable, and remains tight and springy without needing maintenance. Made from surgical stainless steel and block titanium, the Eyelet Flip is lightweight and durable, and truly reduces problems brought about by conventional flip eyewear. With the ageing population around the world, and the large numbers of presbyopia patients, the Eyelet Flip is surely an essential eyewear solution.


Hans Tan


Founder, Hans Tan Studio; and Assistant Professor, Division of Industrial Design,
National University of Singapore
Hans Tan Studio