By Vicki Matranga
Design Programs + Services
Get to know the people behind the stylish products that will appear at the 2014 International Home + Housewares Show in Discover Design. We’ll be posting conversations with exhibitors to give you a glimpse of the inspirations, influences and ideas that go into creating the exciting products that you’ll see in March at McCormick Place. Today we’re speaking with Pat Nichols, eyebobs Sales Director.
Pat, tell us about eyebobs. How did the company start?
eyebobs eyewear was born of the ultimate fashion conundrum. In 2001, founder and president Julie Allinson found herself in need of reading glasses. Her unique personal style left her with a strong aversion to readers of the cheap, drugstore variety. This left her with one option, frames with a price tag that seemed more appropriate for a small automobile than reading glasses. The business maven immediately recognized a niche. She left her job as president of a children’s clothing company and set to work designing distinctive, high-quality eyewear for the style-conscious person who needs reading glasses, and ones that won’t break the bank.
Who is your typical user?
Eyes over the age of 40 begin to lose their flexibility which makes focusing at close range more difficult (also called presbyopia). Such people are stylish, smart and a little bit sarcastic – and their eyewear should be too. We’ve got styles and colors to suit every mood, from dignified classics to big, bold and bright. We’ve got sunglass readers to keep you looking stylish while reading outdoors. Prescription users can convert eyebobs frames into unique prescription eyewear.
How do you describe your design approach?
eyebobs are reading glasses for the irreverent and slightly jaded. Creativity, wit and a dash of sarcasm reign at the Minneapolis headquarters. Allinson creates the designs herself, with help from staff and optical nuts who share her quirky vision. Styles range from the avant garde to buttoned-up conservative, all with a slightly tongue-in-cheek attitude. Eyebobs firmly believes that your style should be sharp, even if your vision isn’t.
Your company collaborates with people in varied fields to inspire your product line. Tell us about your partners and your company’s broader goals.
Each year, eyebobs chooses a celebrity partner for a charitable collaboration. In past years, we have worked with Katie Couric, New York fashion icon Iris Apfel, and author of The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris Garder. This year, we had the good fortune of working with Andrew Zimmern, chef, writer, food fanatic and creator, host and co-executive producer of Travel Channel’s hit series Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. As a resident of the Twin Cities (where eyebobs is headquartered), Zimmern is something of a hometown hero for us – a no-nonsense personality, a terrific advocate for our local culinary scene and someone who truly embodies our “irreverent and slightly jaded” philosophy. The James Beard Foundation, an organization devoted to celebrating, nurturing and preserving America’s diverse culinary heritage and future, was Zimmern’s charity of choice for this project.
It is our first year participating in the International Home + Housewares Show and we are thrilled to bring our products to a new audience!
Can you give us a preview of what you will be showing in your booth in Discover Design?
We’ll be featuring “The Zimm” reading glasses, our limited edition collaboration with chef and television personality Andrew Zimmern. A portion of proceeds from the sale of this frame benefit the James Beard Foundation. https://www.eyebobs.com/eyebobs_store/detail/25/eyewear/19401/the_zimm/
We feel that there is a strong connection between reading glasses and cooking. After all, it is rather difficult to follow a recipe if you aren’t able to see it! Our products are for the customer who appreciates quality and luxury in every form – they using the best, most advanced kitchen equipment the market currently has to offer. Of course they want to be wearing the very best reading glasses available. We create eyewear for the fashion-forward foodie.
Thank you, Pat Nichols, for giving us a backstage peek at eyebob’s view on design. We look forward to hosting you in Chicago in March and wish you a successful first appearance at our Show.
Visit eyebobs in Discover Design S4281. Learn about their eye-appealing products, available in many materials and styles, at
Discover Design is the premier design destination at the International Home + Housewares Show. Located in the South Building, the invitation-only category features more than 100 exhibitors from around the world. Companies driven by innovation and design present distinctive products and collections in Tabletop, Gift, Textiles and Home Décor categories. The Discover Design Gallery, accessible to buyers and media, features select products that are entries in the Global Innovation Award (gia) for Design. Learn more about Discover Design exhibitors and their products by checking Housewares Connect 365 at
402 11 – eyebobs ‘Velvet Underground’ reading glasses are fashionable frames with a rich velvet front and nylon temples. These readers are as lightweight and comfortable as they are luxurious.
2888 44 – eyebobs ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ reading glasses marry form with function in a ‘half-eye’ reader with architectural appeal.