MUNICH—As the first show of the year and a growing one at that, Opti presents companies with the unique opportunity of kicking off their brand and booth identities for the year. Opti is viewed as the starting ground for companies to not only present new product but to showcase new booths and new creative directions as a whole.

The excitement on the show floor of Opti was palpable. The 40,000 square feet were sold out. Latecomers were relegated to a wait list and given the knowledge that they’ll need to make their commitment to show organizers earlier the next year, thanks to the show’s first come, first served space filling policy. No doubt, this year’s news that the show would begin construction on two new halls this summer to debut at Opti 2019 was met with no small amount of relief.

The tight quarters, smaller than average exhibitor footprints and tight aisles mean companies really have to vie for attendees’ attention. Not to mention, the European shows often allow for greater creative expression due to the looser construction restrictions compared to other venues.

All that is to say, the booths are often just as much of a draw as the eyewear, lenses and equipment on display. While wandering the aisles, VM snapped a bunch of pictures and have grouped them into some overarching themes to help readers get a sense for what Opti 2016 looked and felt like.

Color, Color & More Color
Vibrant color will always draw the eye and booth designers must know that. How else could you explain the virtual rainbow that many booths relied on to lure visitors? These few snapshots are literally just a fraction of the ROYGBIV wonder that was Opti Munich 2016.
One With Nature
Booths that strived to bring the outdoors in or implement the use of natural materials often offered a sense of warmth and calm serenity among the chaos. Many booths used generous amounts of raw wood, green foliage and nature motifs to create oases in the midst of the floor’s often frenetic energy.

On the Move
Little is sexier than a hot pair of wheels. All manner of modes of transportation where on show in booths or as booths throughout the exhibition. Among the usual fancy cars rolled in for the ogling, displays included a sleek motorcycle, a high performance racing bike, a vintage VW van… a shipping container? And we don’t even know what that is… a skicycle? A snowmobike?
Modern Day Vintage
Everything old is new again and vintage eyewear is hot, hot, hot. Opti organizers drew a standing room only crowd for their two Vintage Summit panels held on Friday and Sunday in the Opti Forum featuring prominent European vintage eyewear collectors, and seemingly all-a-round cool guys, (l to r) Siegfried Schlögl (Austria), Matti Piipponen (Finland), Christian Metzler (Germany), and Lee Yule (U.K.). The guys talked about their personal collections (numbering more than tens of thousands among them), how they got started, their favorite frames in their collections and the world of vintage frame collection. Additionally, they each brought in a hand selected assortment of styles from their personal collections that were kept on display in the !HOT area of Hall C1, right next to the DJ booth, for attendees to admire. Additionally, the boys could often be found in the vicinity to field questions from curious passersby.
U.S./German Relations
Though many of the companies on exhibit at Opti were German brands, 2016 marked the first year that foreign exhibitors outnumbered national ones (298 vs. 278) and the good ol’ U.S of A. was definitely represented. Whether manning their own booths, joining their European partners or just wandering the halls to get a feel for the place, familiar faces abounded. Some of the people you may know included the folks from Randolph Engineering and Brooklyn Spectacles, REM’s Steve Horowitz in the Remdoticca booth, a full contingent from WestGroupe (Canada, heeeey!), and a just happy to be there David Friedfeld from ClearVision.