Hoffmann Kahleyss Design
The Hoffmann Kahleyss Design studio was set up in Hamburg in 2013. Founders Birgit Hoffmann and Christoph Kahleyss produce furniture designs and concepts for interiors, exhibitions, showrooms, and photo shoots, giving them leading roles in shaping whole collections and identities for brands such as Freifrau Manufaktur and Janua; they also work with companies such as Rolf Benz, Solpuri, Möller Design, and Treca Interiors Paris.
Their approach to design is functional without being cold; their furniture pieces are characterised by elegance, by a certain lightness which balances the soft with the straight, the decorative with the voluminous, and the playful with the structured. All Hoffmann Kahleyss designs come with an unexpected detail: it could be sophisticated indents in upholstery or metal table struts with varying widths. Whatever the stylistic element, though, it becomes a defining feature which makes the piece unmistakable without drawing too much attention to itself.
In the same way as each Hoffmann and Kahleyss product is the result of seemingly opposite shapes and styles, the two designers’ characters are also in productive contrast to each other: Birgit Hoffmann, born in1968 in Munich, is passionate and spontaneous by nature, with a preference for trying out something new; Christoph Kahleyss, meanwhile, was born in 1963 in Oldenburg at the other end of Germany and takes a calm, structured approach to what he finds, ordering new things into an existing system.
The fact that each has an intuitive understanding for how the other works is as important for their design process as the wealth of know-how and experience they have. Both designers already had extensive careers behind them when they met in Peter Maly’s bureau, where they – at different times – were employed before, in 2009, becoming partners in the Hamburg designer’s firm. Birgit Hoffmann began by training as a ceramist before going on to study industrial design at the Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel; she then worked at Studio & Partners in Milan, becoming senior designer for Peter Maly in 2000 and then working under her own name from 2006 onwards; since 2011, she has been the art director at Freifrau Manufaktur. After training as a carpenter, Christoph Kahleyss also studied industrial design in Kiel before starting Berger Associates in New York; he then went to Jürgen Lange Design in Stuttgart. In 1993, he set up his own bureau and began teaching at Muthesius; later, he also started teaching at the JAK Fashion Academy in Hamburg.
Birgit Hoffmann and Christoph Kahleyss run their studio jointly. While they are based in Hamburg’s St. Pauli quarter, their pieces have a flair and style more reminiscent of Italy.