Through subtle and peculiar arrangement, Haffmans & Neumeister’s unorthodox first image campaign challenges ideas of value: what is banal versus what is exclusive.
The Haffmans & Neumeister debut image campaign was shot by Christian Hagemann, a photographer trained in the fine arts. Hagemann utilises his sculptural skills to create novel still life compositions. Interweaving early and midcentury elegance with contemporary high-end realism, Hagemann creates subtly alluring imagery unseen in common commercial still life photography.
Frames from Haffmans & Neumeister’s inaugural Line collection are arranged with familiar everyday objects. At first glance these quotidian objects may seem straightforward in their design, even banal. Yet the viewer cannot help but be drawn in: the unapologetic functionality and simplicity of these objects is captivating.
The palate of the set and objects is reduced, focused on tones that fit the company’s colour scheme: nude, chestnut, grey, white. The eye traces the lines of each object, drawn in by the angles, the cast shadows, the shine of light on the metallic and transparent (tins, knife, glass of water), the sudden softness of organic material (a velvety leaf, a spotted egg, an ashy cigarillo). Great attention is paid to texture and materiality.
The eyewear is conspicuous without being spot-lit; it is through the clever arrangement of objects that the viewer repeatedly returns to the eyeglasses searching for a relationship between the objects. There is irony, in the true sense of the word, at play, questioning the perception of value — what is banal and what is exclusive?
The question itself challenges the existence of this duality. By choosing to surround a coveted object with mundane objects in such a way that the viewer must find a relation between them, there is a shift in perspective and the objects are transformed. This theme exposes the heart of Haffmans & Neumeister’s driving ethos: the notion of stripping away artifice to reveal an essential nature, honouring the fundamental quality of a raw material, shape, idea, or design. In this state of mind, the aesthetics of each of these objects, of their intelligible technological solutions, hold equal value.
The surreal visual language and philosophic alelements of the campaign break with the familiar visual and thematic motifs of the optical industry. Creating an art piece from these simple objects, the campaign is a reference to masters of the modern still life such as Paul Outerbridge and Josef Sudek.