Is this the new face of work?
Acclaimed New York designer launches the futuristic Vue Shield

When the virus arrived in New York, designer Joe Doucet took his wife and three children to their country home in the Catskill Mountains where he spent lockdown creating what may be the new face of work.

“A designer is a problem-solver,” he told StoryCode. “And what greater problem is there than the pandemic? I struggled with what my contribution would be. I read voraciously on the topic and discovered quite early that face shields are more impactful than face masks.”

A recent study found that universal adoption of face shields combined with testing, contact tracing and hand hygiene could help reduce transmission of the virus. It suggested that face shields offer a number of advantages over basic cloth face masks: they can be reused indefinitely, are easy to clean, include eye protection and prevent the wearer from touching their face. Crucially they are transparent enabling the wearer to communicate with others.

“When you can’t see someone’s expression you lose a lot of meaning,” said Doucet. “Something jovial can be taken as hostile. It’s hard to come across as warm and welcoming when someone can’t see your expression. Face shields are better but face shields are so alien to us.”

A medical face shield is not only an unfamiliar object, it is also an obtrusive and unsettling reminder of the pandemic.

By:

Laura Peek

Laura is the founder of StoryCode and a former Staff News Reporter at The Times and The Daily Mail.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Photos: Product shots by Joe Doucet x Partners; Portrait by Marc Horm
Video: StoryCode

Doucet, who has been called a “living blueprint for the 21st-century designer”, challenged himself to spend lockdown creating a face shield that people would want to wear.

“If you can encourage adoption of this unwanted necessity, you’re going to have the ability to have a much greater impact,” he said. “So I began thinking about what kinds of things are closest to this that people are used to doing.

“Well, we’re all used to taking a pair of eyeglasses off and putting them on. That doesn’t seem alien – I do it every time I leave the house when I wear sunglasses. And so I decided that would be the basis of my design and I would further that by just making it beautiful and cool-looking.”

Designer Joe Doucet

The result is the Vue Shield. Made of polycarbonate, it has arms like sunglasses rather than a band round the forehead like a medical shield.

It also has anti-fog coating and provides UV protection to the whole face (an anti-aging bonus feature).

The shield is thin, lightweight and shaped like a face. “I wanted it to take the form of the shape of the face because then it could be smaller and fit closer offering more protection through not being so open at the bottom,” said Doucet.

“The shape also makes the shield stronger. It’s like the dome on a cathedral. It’s a self-supporting structure so the shield is lighter, thinner and stronger than a typical face shield.”

There are currently three models: a shield for men with built-in sunglasses, a shield for women with built-in sunglasses and a clear version for everyone.

The Vue Shield will be available globally from September 15 and will cost $39. Based on pre-orders, Doucet expects to be shipping a million units a month. He also has plans for a version that clips to the frames of existing glasses for people who wear spectacles and perhaps even a model with prescription lenses in the future.

Doucet, who holds more than 50 patents, is an award-winning designer with a multi-disciplinary practice.

He has redesigned objects from headphones and whisky decanters to street seating and wind turbines and has worked with brands including Nike, BMW, Grey Goose and Gucci.

He recently collaborated with Montblanc to create a futuristic suitcase with a luggage tag that stores passport and itinerary information, provides real-time updates on flight and gate status and even calls you a cab. His first invention, aged two, was a rucksack made from a paper bag and his father’s suspenders.

With a background in communication design, Doucet is known for carefully considering the messages a product communicates. He hopes the Vue Shield will deliver some positive messages that ease the psychological impact of the pandemic.

“I wanted it to be beautiful and cool-looking because style is important,” he said. “I wanted that moment when you put it on to just feel ok and as normal as possible. And maybe even make you feel great. That’s my stretch goal. When you put it on you say to yourself: “Hey, I feel cool. I look better than when I’m wearing a mask. I feel great.”