the group

blake kuwahara

Recognized as one of the preeminent designers in eyewear today, he is an optometrist and member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and has been recognized internationally for his creation of the exclusive KATA Eyewear brand that was based on the philosophy of “simple shapes and forms from everyday surroundings.”

He has most recently worked with celebrated designers John Varvatos and Carolina Herrera on their current eyewear collections and has designed eyewear for Isaac Mizrahi, Hanae Mori, Behnaz Sarafpour as well as for iconic brands such as Converse, Liz Claiborne, and Jones New York.

He has garnered a multitude of awards for his designs including “Best of Category in Consumer Products” from I.D. magazine and the “Silmo d’Or – Prix Special Journalists de Mode” and nominated for Silmo’s highest honor for Technology and Fashion on three separate occasions. In addition, Blake’s bold experimentation has gained him a following in the fashion media being profiled in ELLE, Bazaar, GQ, In Style, and Vogue and has made appearances on E!, Access Hollywood, and MTV.


Beginning his design career as Assistant to award-winning designer and CFDA Member, Blake Kuwahara, he cut his teeth on brands like John Varvatos Eyewear and Carolina Herrera Eyewear. His awareness of fashion, trends, and the eyewear market led him to take on the role of Lead Designer for Lucky Brand Spectacles as well as various house brands and private labels including Rock & Republic.

Having worked with numerous designers, stylists & celebrities and as a former ABO Certified Optician and dispensary manager, Thomas has developed a clear aesthetic sensibility and a keen understanding of style and brand differentiation.

His eyewear designs have been featured in InStyle, Redbook, Allure and trade publications such as WWD Accessories and 20/20 Magazine.


Based in San Francisco, John established his firm in 1994. He’s developed a signature style that combines the rationality and rigorous detailing of Modernism with the warmth and humanism of artistic intuition.

His groundbreaking work for Urban Eyes Optometry won him an Interiors Magazine award and SF American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) award. Due to this recognition, he has become an expert in optometric practices, and has designed over 18 practices to date.

By combining rational thinking and an artistic eye, John creates a unique vision for each client while maximizing functionality and efficiency. As a licensed Architect, he is familiar with the practical side of construction such as building codes and processes, budgets, detailing, and contractors, providing full architectural services if required.

John is also known for his award-winning, high-end retail, restaurant, club interiors and innovative residential projects. He is a Certified Green Building Professional, seeking to make all of his projects more efficient, healthier, and less detrimental to the environment. His designs have been featured in 20/20 Magazine, Interior Design, CH&D, and numerous book publications.


Specializing in media relations, stylist & celebrity seeding, and newsworthy events, Niki brings over a decade of public relations experience in the entertainment, luxury, and consumer lifestyle categories. She has coordinated award-winning campaigns for top brands such as

Carolina Herrera Eyewear, John Varvatos Eyewear, Platinum Guild International USA, Kahlua, Crate & Barrel, Jamba Juice, Hollywood Life Magazine, FOX Broadcasting Company and TLC, just to name a few.

Having worked at top ranking companies including Clifford PR, Euro RSCG Magnet, and FOX Broadcasting Company, Niki is now at the helm of PR Lab, a full-service public relations firm based in Los Angeles.

With a degree in English/Cultural Studies, additional education in Film and TV, and her knowledge of entertainment publicity, she has been lecturing at UCLA for the past five years. She is also a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Science and the Entertainment Publicists Professional Society.

becky chan & heather chan

As sisters, they loved creating art during their childhood, and after successful careers – Heather as a Creative Director at CMP Media and Becky as an Art Director for Wired Magazine – they collaborated once again to form their own graphic design firm.

From mom-and-pop shops to multi-national high-tech corporations, they design highly effective and successful brand identities, marketing collateral, print media, websites, packaging, and retail campaigns. They've created projects for a variety of industry leaders including Conde Nast, Sony, Jaguar, Gymboree, and Intel, and others. Their designs have been published in Print Magazine.

The integrity of their work is based upon respecting each client as unique and individual. Armed with a keen understanding of graphic nuances and a progressive design aesthetic, they create innovative branding solutions to best promote each company.

Blake Kuwahara Launches New Collaborative Design Collective:
Focus Group West

Press Release
March 18, 2009

West Hollywood, CA—Award-winning eyewear designer Blake Kuwahara is launching a new collaborative design collective, Focus Group West, a multi-disciplinary company designed to service various segments of the optical industry. Kuwahara recently resigned from his position as VP, Creative Director for REM Eyewear and Base Curve where he held this post for 5 1/2 years.

Focus Group West will be specializing in both product development and branding for the eyewear markets and beyond. “We believe there is a void in the marketplace for a creative resource that can provide design and branding services for not only wholesalers and fashion houses, but to independent optometrists and retailers as well,” Kuwahara said. “Focus Group West will serve as a hub for the interaction between product, graphic and interior designers, architects, and public relations specialists to design, develop and promote product, interior spaces and create brand identity for eyewear and fashion companies.”

Kuwahara will be joined by former colleague Thomas Ferguson who will be serving as key eyewear designer. Additionally, architect John Lum, who gained notoriety for his now iconic Urban Eyes dispensary design will be working with Focus Group West to offer his architectural services to all clients. Graphic designers Heather Chan and Becky Chan, whose expertise is in branding and corporate identity development, will head up the graphic design division. And rounding off the group, Niki Ostin of PR Lab, who handled the launch of Carolina Herrera Eyewear and John Varvatos Eyewear and works with top accessory, fashion, and entertainment brands will be overseeing public relations campaigns for clients of Focus Group West.

Focus Group West is currently discussing potential projects with clients both within and outside the eyewear industry. “The launch of Focus Group West comes at a time when retailers and wholesalers need to sharpen their game to bring to market product that will resonate with consumers and speak to the essence of the brand," Ferguson said. “A product line has to be at its strongest to survive and thrive in today’s market.” Kuwahara went on to say, “It’s our job and responsibility to take ownership of a brand and work hand-in-hand with our client and their licensors to make sure the identity and continuity of a collection remains strong and effective.”

Kuwahara, a member of the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) is also an optometrist. He left his private practice in Manhattan Beach, CA for more creative endeavors and was the creator of KATA Eyewear, which was a favorite amongst celebrities and fashion editors alike. In addition to his signature collection, Kuwahara designed and launched the eyewear collections for John Varvatos, Carolina Herrera, Isaac Mizrahi, and Hanae Mori. He also has designed for such iconic brands as Liz Claiborne, Jones New York, and Converse as well as producing runway pieces for New York designer Behnaz Sarafpour and Rock & Republic.

Ferguson, a former optician, was the lead designer and Product Development Manager for REM’s Lucky Brand Spectacles collection and numerous house and private label brands for the company including work on the collections for John Varvatos, Carolina Herrera, and Rock & Republic.

Additional Information can be found at:

Press Contact:
Niki Ostin