Don't Pigeonhole Him

The mid-century modern warrior: Houston Modern Market CEO teaches knife fighting, designs weapons on the side

The mid-century modern warrior: Houston Modern Market CEO teaches knife fighting, designs weapons on the side

Brian Hoffner knife
Brian Hoffner isn't your typical mid-century architecture advocate. He has a lot of other . . . interests.
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Brian Hoffner founded Houston Modern Market in 2011.  Photo via Kenektid
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Hoffner introduces Dominic Walsh. Photo via Kenektid
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At this year's Houston Modern Market, expect mod funiture... Photo via Kenektid
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And vintage clothing and accessories. Photo via Kenektid
Brian Hoffner knife
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News_Brian Hoffner_Houston Modern Market
News_Brian Hoffner_Houston Modern Market

You'll be hard pressed to find someone who does more than Brian Hoffner, the founder and CEO of Houston Modern Market

Just as comfortable with singing the praises of obscure mid-century modern architects (which he did) as with quickly flipping a fighting knife out of his pocket (which he also did), Hoffner defies easy definition.

Hoffner's curriculum vitae includes a stint in the military and 30 years with the Houston Police Department. He teaches fire arms training and self defense to men and women and frequently gives a keynote lecture entitled "Forging a Warrior."

He designs holsters and other weaponry gear and, with four patents under his belt, Hoffner considers himself something of an inventor. He is also a fledgling clothing designer, starting up a company to design and manufacture tactical apparel in the United States.

While deployed as a young K-9 handler in the Philippines, Hoffner taught himself to appreciate literature, starting with J. R. R. Tolkein's ​Lord of the Rings​ trilogy. Over the years, he has developed an avid appreciation of the arts and now sits on the boards of the Dominic Walsh Dance Theatre and the Design Council of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

 He teaches fire arms training and self defense to men and women and frequently gives a keynote lecture entitled "Forging a Warrior." 

In his free time, Hoffner crusades for mid-century modern art and architecture, befriending artists and architects on both coasts and pushing for the preservation of historic buildings in Houston.

On the side, he co-owns Rebajes Wearable Art and is currently producing a documentary and writing a book about the life and work of artist Francisco Rebajes.

Jack of all trades, master of none? Hoffner recognizes that his interests are disparate, but he believes that he can dedicate himself equally to all. 

"It's a shame to go through life one-dimensionally," Hoffner tells CultureMap.

Building A Market 

Hoffner encourages Houstonians to appreciate the arts with the same passion that he teaches self reliance to young women. This is how he came to found Houston Modern Market in 2011, when the Lawndale Art Center broadened the focus of its MidCentury Modern Market to include contemporary design

The second annual Houston Modern Market takes place Feb. 24 through 26, and Hoffner says that the local event — one of only five like it in the nation — is already vying for second best. Robert Imber's Modernism Week in Palm Springs, undoubtedly the best in the nation, was Hoffner's model and inspiration for Houston Modern Market.

 "I'm a fan of good architecture and design partially because I'm not a fan of the bad," he says.  

This year's event improves upon the inaugural one, with a film premiere at the River Oaks Theatre, modern architectural tours by Jason Smith, an impressive roster of sponsors and a schedule packed with lectures and panel discussions. The event will take place at Winter Street Studios and other sites around the city, with a portion of the proceeds going to Design Onscreen and Houston Mod

Hoffner envisions the Houston Modern Market as a way to bring Houstonians to the culture that already exists within the city — and acknowledges the impetus to make Houston a mid-century modern mecca is a self-serving one. 

"I'm a fan of good architecture and design partially because I'm not a fan of the bad," he says. "It's just as easy and inexpensive to construct a well-designed building as a poorly-designed one." 

Between all of these hobbies and obligations, when does Hoffner find time to rest?

"I'll sleep when I'm dead," he laughs.