Kim Hoffmann Photograph Collection
Language of Materials
The collection primarily contains photographs of interior and industrial designs by the interior design firm Hoffmann and Heidrich. Most are interior views of New York City apartments and small retail establishments.
Joachim Hoffmann (February 22, 1908 - November 7, 1995) was born in Bremerhaven, Germany, and studied law and modern design for three years at the University of Berlin. He left Germany for Paris in 1933, where he practiced interior design for several years. In Paris Hoffmann began to work with the German interior designer Paul Bry; both men relocated to New York in the 1930s. Upon his arrival in New York City, Hoffman worked under the name Jo Kim as a designer and an art photographer both on his own and with Bry. Hoffmann's association with Bry dissolved in 1945, and he began a partnership with Stephen Heidrich in 1946.
Stephen Heidrich (March 22, 1891? - June 1972?) was born in Connecticut but educated in New York. While a high school student, he was awarded the Pierre St. Godin Medal for fine draftsmanship, and received a scholarship to Pratt Institute. He served in the U. S. Army during World War II. Upon his return to New York, Heidrich worked with interior designer Alfons Bach and then with celebrated decorator Dorothy Draper before forming the firm of Hoffmann and Heidrich.
In 1946 Hoffmann and Heidrich set up shop at 225 East 57th Street, and began doing interior design work for both commercial and residential clients. The majority of their designs were for New York City businesses and apartments, with some for larger homes in the surrounding suburban areas, and a few for commercial firms in Connecticut and Delaware. In addition to interior design work, Hoffmann and Heidrich designed display units for stores, and also designed furnishings and accessories for a variety of product lines and manufacturers.
Hoffmann and Heidrich favored a clean, uncluttered modern aesthetic. Their interiors were not dissimilar to those created by more high-end design firms at the same time. Their furniture, made for New York apartment living, was functional yet sleek. For example, tables were able to serve as both tables and benches. Their space-saving closet racks were popular. Both men were fine artists, interested in incorporating contemporary artwork into their residential designs. Both were also members of the American Institute of Designers.
Hoffmann and Heidrich's designs and interiors were featured in local and national newspapers and magazines such as the New York Times and Vogue, and the two often wrote articles about their designs for trade publications. By 1953 the pair were design consultants for several publications in the United States, Argentina, France, and London. In later years Hoffman gave public talks on interior design and aesthetics and taught several classes at the New School for Social Research.
Stephen Heidrich died in 1972. Hoffmann gradually stopped being an active interior designer. As late as 1980, however, he was corresponding with companies about manufacturing products to his specifications. Hoffmann died in New York City in 1995.
The collection is diveded into five series:
- Series I. Commissions
- Series II. Installations and Trade Shows
- Series III. Product Files
- Series IV. Publicity and Correspondence
- Series V. Personal Photographs
Scope and Content Note
The Kim Hoffmann collection spans the period from 1937 to 1980 and primarily contains photographs of interior and industrial designs by the interior design firm Hoffmann and Heidrich. The collection is divided into five series: Commissions; Installations and Trade Shows; Product Files; Publicity and Correspondence; and Personal Photographs.
While the collection is primarily concerned with the activity of the firm of Hoffmann and Heidrich, it also contains material associated with Paul Bry, and examples of both Hoffmann and Heidrich's individual work. Photos of individual designs are often stamped as such, i.e. "Design by Stephen Heidrich of Hoffmann and Heidrich." In addition, both Hoffmann and Heidrich created visual art, and photographs of Heidrich's sculptures and Hoffman's paintings are included here.
The collection was salvaged from the home of Kim Hoffmann after his death, and the photographs, negatives, transparencies, and clippings that were found were foldered by subject. The original folder titles have been maintained; in many cases they remain the only information available about the collected images. In cases where images were loose or clearly mislabeled, they were correctly refiled. However, there are still many images, mainly filed in "miscellaneous" folders, which remain unidentified. It is also unclear how much of the firm's work is documented by these records. Dates for many of the commissions were taken from the Hoffmann and Heidrich office addresses stamped on the verso of the photos.
Many of these photos were taken for publicity or for publication. Others were taken by Hoffmann or Heidrich themselves (especially their travel photography). Photos throughout the collection were taken by the following photographers: John Brefach, Ben Schnall, Clifford G. Scofield, Richard Averill Smith, William Stelling, and James Vincent. Particularly in Series III, product photographs were often samples distributed by their manufacturers.
Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.
Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.
Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions
This collection should be cited as: Kim Hoffmann Photograph Collection, PR 077, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Acquired by the New-York Historical Society in 1995.