We are so excited to feature Matthew & Joanna of the amazing Hofmann Architecture this week on The Stream.
Hofmann Architecture is a growing architectural firm that has earned a world renowned reputation for beautifully designed and highly functional small spaces. From guesthouses, to boats, mobile offices, and of course Airstreams, the work at HofArc is powered by freedom, adventure, and living well. Check out some of their recent project or latest design tips over at https://hofarc.com.
Tell us about the first time you saw an Airstream? How old were you? Where were you? What did you think?
-I’m sure I’ve seen them as a kid but I really didn’t take much note to them. The first time that I REALLY saw one was at a Design Within Reach (DWR) show, it was when Airstream released the DWR collaboration and it was a 16 footer little Bambi that they did interior on and this was about 10 years ago at about 22 years old, I saw that here in Santa Barbara I saw that at a DWR store. They kinda brought it in and did a little show on it, that’s when I first kinda got intrigued as to the design of these things.
I thought it was interesting, I thought the interior could use some work and I guess that’s why I kind of started doing what we’re doing. But I liked, it was like a little pint sized unit, it was small, it was 16 feet and I thought it was kind if fun that they could cram as much in there as they did and it was pretty functional. I was intrigued.
Why Airstream? What is it about Airstream that attracted HofArc?
Airstream’s an American icon, they’re built well. It’s harder to restore things that fall apart, and these are built out of aluminum and steel and other materials that tend to stay together. Interiors not so much, interiors fall apart, but working on something that has integrity, that is an icon, there’s a lot that already goes into that. So it’s nice to be able to be a part of that and to make something that already has a lot of history even better.
It’s been around for 80 years, that’s pretty cool. Not a lot of companies have been in continuous operation for 80 years. It’s very much a design company, I don’t think they really understand how much they are a design company, I think they think they’re an RV company, but they’re more a lifestyle company (they’re getting closer, they’re moving in that direction).
Do you currently own an Airstream? Multiple Airstreams? What year/model?
Yeah, I own a bunch. One that I’m working on right now is a project that I’m doing some really cool stuff to, that I plan to live in full-time in about three months, depending on when it’s done. It’s a long one, it’s a 1992 sovereign. I had another one that I thought I was going to do, it was a 1972 that ended up not working because I needed to reuse a lot of interior, so this other one I just ended up taking everything out and it wasn’t going to be cost effective to re-do.
What’s your favorite customization that you’ve seen in an Airstream?
I like messing with the shell. You can do a lot interior stuff, you can put cool stuff in, that’s unlimited. Now when you mess with the shell, you kind of enter this range of, it’s a little edgy because people can either love it or hate it which is kind of nice. You know you’re doing something worthwhile if people respond to one extreme or the other. You know you’re doing something that no one cares about when people respond with indifference or something that’s not worthwhile. Messing with the shell is kind of fun if you can find a way to open it up or do the gull-wing doors, or cut of the back end and put a bar or a jacuzzi or something could be kind of fun. I’m exploring right now doing a cut in the roof with a skylight made out of polycarbonate with a glass coating so the whole things could kind of slide and create like an airplane hatch that slides over you. So that’s something that hasn’t been released yet but we can talk about it, it’s gonna be interesting! It’s gonna allow you to sleep and have the whole bedroom ceiling open to the stars, so when you’re sleeping that will be pretty cool.
If you could own any Airstream, which would it be and how would you customize it?
The one that I own now! The ‘92 that I’m customizing exactly how I want (and y’all will get to see exactly how it looks like in about three months when I’m done.) It’ll be cool, for sure.
Do you have any tips for people looking to customize their own Airstreams?
Heck yeah! Our website’s full of them www.hofarc.com. We have a forum site on there now, so anyone that has any questions, we have people actively answering everyone’s questions. When we answer your questions, other people can see the answers so you’re question helps other people working on the same projects and it’ll be shared with the rest of the community.
Is there a feature (or are there features) that you’d like to see Airstream build into their new products?
I think it’s going to be a natural evolution. I think they’re continuing to grow their quality of designs and I really am proud to see how they’re taking it seriously. The insides are getting much better than they used to. I hope that they keep the integrity of the outside without reducing too much the realities of cost, and I hope they don’t spoil the the beautiful design of the outside by by messing with it too much. I’d like to see them go back to the traditional aluminum instead of using this brushed finish that you can polish out, I think it would look really nice.
Tell us about the best Airstream trip you’ve taken?
The best one was several years ago, I took a trip from Santa Barbara to the Pacific Northwest through Oregon and Washington and everything went wrong. It was probably the best because we learned how to respond to the realities of the road and we connected on on a really good level. We really got angry at each other, but then we figured out how to deal with stuff like camping in freezing temperatures when you don’t have any heat in an Airstream, or your water not working, or everything just kind of going South. It’s funny how the best trip was the trip that everything went wrong because I learned a lot, and we learned a lot about each other. There were four of us and we were all traveling in a little 17 footer and it was pretty tight, some people were all on the floor and it was in the middle of winter.
What is your dream Airstream destination?
Alaska. I’m gonna go to Alaska, I’m going to check out Alaska for maybe a month or two with some of my friends or even the whole company. I’m exploring this idea of a mobile, like a nomadic company where everyone can be in trailers or whatever and going from city to city, making business connections or pushing some idea but not having to be rooted to one city or one location, or one community.
What does “Live Riveted” mean to you?
I think what Airstream is trying to get across is “live free.” It means freedom and whatever that means to you, or live right and live to your standards of life without being influenced too much by society or your parents or your friends. Do what’s true to you.
What's your favorite Airstream Brands product?
The Deluxe Gift Basket Bundle because there is something for everyone!
What product(s) would you like to see Airstream Brands develop?
Stainless steel Moscow Mule mugs would be cool.
That would be really cool. Please comment below on what products you'd like to see us develop - we are always looking for suggestions!
Thank you to Matthew and Joanna for sharing their thoughts on Airstreams, Living Riveted and the beautiful photos.