Jamie Bartlett

BA (Hons) International Product Design 2012
Director, Banton Frameworks

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What made you choose GCU and your specific course?
Prior to attending GCU, I studied at the neighbouring Glasgow Metropolitan college. I undertook a 2 year HND which was also Product Design. This acted as a “feeder-course” into other design-related areas of study. Nearing the end of my final year, I was invited to speak with the head lecturer of GCU Product Design, which prompted me to join the 3rd year in the September of 2010.

As I was already based in Glasgow, I wanted to continue staying in the city that I had become really fond of. I had moved away from home (Aberdeen) to initially study at the Met college and felt that the GCU Product Design course was a natural transition for me as a young designer.

What are your memories of University? Were you involved in any clubs or societies?

It felt too short-lived! I was only at GCU for 2 years so it went-by really quick. Which is a shame because I’d have enjoyed spending more time getting to know more people and having the uni lifestyle. Those were the days.

Yep, I became heavily involved with GCUSC; the snow sports society. It was honestly some of the best times I had at uni. I met so many great people and the culture was very relaxed. I knew I was only going to have two seasons with them so I certainly made the most of it. Two ski trips abroad and all the social events too. You know the ones…

For any student, I think the sports team and societies at GCU are one of the best ways to socialize and meet people. It’s also a great way to try new sports/activities that you’d struggle to get involved with in full time occupations.

I say make the most of it whilst you have the time and access to it all.

How has your career progressed since graduation from GCU? Did your GCU qualification aid you?

Yes definitely.

I vowed to use my course of study, simply because I know it what I wanted to pursue design one way or another. Trouble is, the creative industries is pretty hard to penetrate in Scotland, simply because it’s so small. Most product designers tend to go to large creative cities such as London or Manchester.

Instead, I had the idea of starting my own business with my partner and course mate Lucy Ross. Together, we started Banton Frameworks where we regularly apply what we learned in our Product Design course.

Can you tell us more about your current role?

Sure. So I co-founded and currently run an eyewear manufacturing/brand called Banton Frameworks.

We design and make spectacles and sunglasses in-house using 3D technology and multiple machine-processes.

Sheets of acetate arrive at our workshop and they leave as fully-made glasses frames.

It all sounds like fun, but it’s taken 7 years to learn how to do all of this. Our degree certainly helped us get started with the design of the frames. But the self-production took far far longer to master. In the early years, we were definitely in the “apprentice” stage of learning how to make glasses. Today, we’re exporting to countries all over the world such as America and Japan.

What are you most proud of professionally so far?

Two things…

I’ve eventually managed to make a job for myself in an industry that is basically non-existent here in the UK. (Making optical & sunglasses frames.)

I’m building a factory with my partner/business partner so we can teach other people how to make glasses frames. Eventually, we hope to become the biggest and best at what we do here.

It’s a mission of ambition.

What advice would you give to current students? Do you have any hints or tips specific to your industry or more broadly?

My course no longer exists at GCU. But, in terms of general advice is to have the confidence to follow what genuinely interests you. If that means changing your course or re-applying, then do it. I met too many fellow-students who didn’t really know if they wanted to do or if they even liked their course. Personally, I think it’s better to defer a year during or before going to Uni to figure out what really motivates you. Just like a job, you have to want to get out of bed and get after it each and every day.

What are your future plans?

Banton Frameworks is my full time focus just now. It’s very full on, but the plan has always to build a factory of our own where we can grow as a business and as a brand.

Right now, it’s still a small team but it’d be cool to have some staff/interns in the future to teach how to make glasses frames.

Dare I say it, but the guys in the optometry department might be keen to send some students to our future factory one day. There aren’t many companies who make eyewear here in the UK, certainly not in Scotland.