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Interviews | October 30, 2019

A chat with – Haffmans & Neumeister

They don’t want to be hot, because hot cools off, so they created Haffmans & Neumeister to last. Philipp introduces the recently founded, new brand, together with his brother Daniel Haffmans and Jean-Pierre Neumeister

words Antonella Reina

Haffmans & Neumeister is your third eyewear project. How did you come up with this idea?

Moving on from our former brands has never meant we were finished with eyewear – in fact quite the opposite; we felt a strong urge to further evolve within this industry that we are so close to. An industry that has changed a lot since the first time we created eyewear some 20 years ago. Yet we were wondering, “Shall we really do this a third time?” The answer was, “Yes! This is what we do!” Eyewear is what Jean-Pierre, Daniel and I know inside out: it’s our expertise and it´s undeniably a part of our lives.

What about the previous experiences with ic! berlin and Mykita?

Both ic! berlin (1996-2002) and Mykita (2002-2015) were two amazing chapters in our lives. Nothing is forever and it’s in that vein that we cherish all of the adventures, relationships, and experiences gained. Both companies are quite unique and helped to shape the industry. We feel very lucky to have been part of both.

What are the philosophy and the mission of the new brand?

Eyewear made out of sheet metal is our invention. Over time it became a common technology in the industry. We are driven to improve this technology and explore the limits of this material; we strive for smart solutions in combination with timeless designs without being bound to a rigid concept. The mission to simplify and reduce doesn’t end with the product, it is present throughout the entire company.

After 1 year from its launch, what kind of achievements have you reached?

To be really honest with you, we started off with a collection that was a classy version of what we had done before. But it was too close to the past and therefore did not find its place in the market right away. We were forced to go back to the drawing board and reinvent ourselves. At the end of this process, which was not always easy – as you can imagine, we were able to launch the Ultralight collection. A complete reduction of the material and a new and much simpler hinge concept. It was actually everything I always dreamed of. The Ultralight collection has carved out a greater distinction from our peers aesthetically, while also removing a lot of the challenges typically associated with sheet metal eyewear. Right-away it found
its place in great opticians shops.

How far away, and where, do you think this new adventure will take you?

In the literal sense, around the globe; which has always been a beautiful part of this job. Our first store was opened in Seoul last August. I love the idea of having our first shop all the way over there. Seoul is a true fashion hub and has always inspired us.

What sets the label apart from the other eyewear brands?

First, we are a small company, not primarily interested in maximising profit, but passionately doing what we do. We care deeply about the integrity of the design, about keeping the obsession with the product at the forefront. We want to preserve the idea of a small universe, a concept that had worked out very well in the previous companies, where everything was created in-house by a small group of people who work symbiotically.

Who and what do you have in mind when you create a new collection?

This differs from collection to collection. Regarding Ultralight, my inspiration came from frames that I found in the Musée de la Lunette in Morez, France. These very light models, that were originally mass-produced from c. 1850 – c. 1910, allowed me to find the solution for our new hinge solution and inspired me to come up with our Bricard Frame for example. From this came the concept for an entire collection.

What are the characteristics of new collections?

A collection must be balanced. You could use the metaphor of a French cheese platter: Brie, Gruyère, Roquefort, Chèvre, etc. Something for everyone, with distinctive forms, flavours, and textures to delight the palette. There are a few basic shapes that serve different faces. Just imagine the diversity of face physiognomy. There is an answer to all of them. Satisfying this demand is the first step, followed by sizes. The third step is the style, or character, of the glasses. These ingredients have to be balanced out carefully. Once the groundwork is done, the fun part can start – forming new characters and inventing the stories behind them.

Do you have any news about the fall season?

The main focus this season is our new Ultralight collection. We had anticipated that it would do well, however it surpassed our expectations. Broadening the selection of styles has become a top priority. For me this collection is especially engaging because we took an unusual approach to the concept of how to make a frame thinner. The twist in our solution is that we actually increased the material’s thickness. The result is a product that really feels different.