Handcrafted in buffalo horn

Author: Clodagh Norton

Interview of the Month
October 14, 2020

Hoffmann Natural Eyewear is the ultimate expression of luxury, combining the beauty of natural buffalo horn, traditional handcrafting and exquisite style-focused design. Jutta Kahlbetzer, CEO, told 2020EUROPE why their distinguished frames made by skilled artisans continue to catch the eye of the modern glasses connoisseur.

\\ Jutta Kahlbetzer, Hoffmann Eyewear

Q: How has Hoffmann’s way of thinking evolved through the decades since the company was first created in 1978?

A: As a family-run company, we stay true to our original principles even though we have grown bigger and bigger over the years. This means sustainable materials and production, a close-knit team and of course beautiful handcrafted eyewear styles! Where we have evolved is, perhaps, in extending our global reach, making our frames available today in more than 50 countries all over the world and requiring a multicultural Hoffmann team with a broad skill base. And we also remain innovative in the creation of new techniques and use of novel natural materials as our frame design develops.  

Q: With sustainability a key focus for the fashion and eyewear industries, how do you progress in this regard and do you see this as a core advantage for the company, as a feature of its origin as a specialist in natural materials?

A: Hoffmann has been going from strength to strength for more than four decades using sustainable production methods. We didn’t recently jump on this bandwagon – we were already helping to get it moving as far back as 1978 with our horn-rimmed glasses. Horn is a natural material, sustainably sourced, and we at Hoffmann love and live the creation of environmentally-friendly, handcrafted, stylish spectacles. Our sustainability concept also goes beyond the glasses themselves. For example, our production rooms are both heated and cooled by a geothermal system. And the horn shavings that are a by-product of the crafting of the glasses can be used as a fertiliser.

“…we at Hoffmann love and live the creation of environmentally-friendly, handcrafted, stylish spectacles…”

Q: Buffalo horn is traditional, elegant, luxurious and classic. Can the material feel contemporary and is it a growing consideration for younger spectacle wearers who desire a long lasting high quality artisan product?

A: In the physical sense, natural horn simply feels good on your skin – and yes, in a fashion sense this material is absolutely contemporary. Horn frames can be extravagantly chunky or discreetly slimline, make use of cut-outs and milling, can be created in almost any shape, and the colourways also range from classic horn shades that allow appreciation of the natural grain, to bright colours or even a mix of both in one frame. And in order to tempt new, or young, clients into the world of horn eyewear, we have united horn and titanium for lighter look that’s also easier on the pocket, or rimless frames for those who prefer their glasses to look more subtle and yet still enjoy the comfort of genuine horn temples.

Q: What have become the key features of a Hoffmann buffalo horn frame (explain also here the ease of glazing)? Could you explain the innovative Triplex Horn concept.

A: Triplex Horn is a patented technology, and for this we use layers of horn with the fibres running in alternate directions. This is unique to Hoffmann and allows for especially thin, yet strong, rims. What else defines a Hoffmann Natural Eyewear frame? The excellent, long-lasting quality, appealing design and use of natural colour, and of course the skin-friendly comfort and individual fit. Horn really isn’t difficult to work with after a bit of practice, and we provide lots of support for anyone who is new to this lovely material. Alternatively, our V-line frames have a rimlock system, and many of our Ti-line frames have a titanium base, so glazing is simple.

\\ Hoffmann 2296

Q: Colour has been a unique feature of the horn collection by Hoffmann, is that right, and how are colours applied?

A: We have lots of ideas on how to add colour to a horn frame! For example, by using a mix of materials, like horn with wood or slate, we can add new shades. Alternatively, in some designs vegetable dyes are used to create the colourways. And we can even integrate gold, alpaca wool or silks (and more) into the design for imaginative looks.

Q: Finally, can you pick out 2 new frames in horn that illustrate the look and feel of the Hoffmann style for 2020. How do these styles mix tradition with a contemporary design for people today?

A: Hoffmann frames are made using a combination of traditional handcrafting skills and modern techniques. Natural horn as a material is one of the best–loved, and also the oldest, in the history of spectacles. Partner this with a trend-conscious style and maybe even a dash of colour, and you have the perfect way to unite the best of both worlds, the old and the new. And our natural horn frames are also sustainable and skin-friendly, which I think is important to more and more people who wear glasses when they choose their eyewear.
In our current collections, the rimless model R802 CHG 1425 gives a feeling of freedom and weightlessness. The horn temples are partnered by titanium metalwork with gold or palladium plating for this high-comfort frame. As a complete contrast, model 2242 in colour 1398 is a “chunkier” horn style allowing the striking colourway lots of space. The panto shape with keyhole bridge is a classic design, and colour 1398 presents a partnership of contemporary blue and traditional havana shades.

Q: What would you like to add as we settle into autumn?

A: As summer brightness fades and autumn glides in, at Hoffmann we look forward to misty mornings, pale sunshine and falling leaves. The innovative “Soft Colours” from Hoffmann Natural Eyewear perfectly match this mood and mirror nature’s gentlest shades. Our new rimless models also reflect this subtle ambience, combining comfortable, elegant horn temples with light, almost imperceptible fronts.
Hoffmann Natural Eyewear is also known for its design collaborations, and the golden era of the “Roaring Twenties” lives on in 2020 in the stunning models of style icon Sarah Settgast. Handcrafted in natural horn by Hoffmann’s experts and incorporating elements of silver, gold and mother-of-pearl, these unique designs are a feast for the eyes!


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