Design by FRANZ
Grown up in Zurich, Franz von Matt by original profession was a self-employed Dipl. Architect (HTL). Therefore exact and precise working were trusted well to him. Apart from that, he trained, first as a hobby, his manual capabilities repairing and reconstructing historic metal and wooden wheels clocks. The passionate pipe smoker made another of his hobbies to his main occupation in 1998. In the romantic village Teufenthal (Argovia), beneath the medieval Trostburg castle, he opened in an old house in the Schlossgasse 22 a pipe workshop he named Pipe-Factory 22. The long-time and close friend, pipe artisan Bertram Safferling of Bad Cannstatt, certainly played an important role in this decision. At that time there were just four pipemakers in Switzerland - von Matt the sole full-time employed.
Right at the beginning, the lateral entrant caused proper furor introducing the design pipe "Timeless". The Timeless with its spherical bowl stained in many unusual colors was an impudent conversion of the historic Swiss Appenzeller type. It made him famous over night, but unfortunately the newcomer later on was often reduced on this product by many critics, for design(er) pipes absolutely were not everyone’s favorite. To be sure, under his label design by FRANZ not only funky design pipes were created, he also developed classic forms discreetly further.
Otherwise, one could indeed name von Matt a "pipe architect", for he loved the exciting interaction between the constructive development of an innovative pipe design on the drawing board and it’s physical conversion at the lathe.
In 2000 he introduced the edition "Coq de Bruyère". This elegant bent was a homage to the mountain cock, lat. Tetrao urogallus, a species of birds threatened with extinction. The head symbolized the body, the mouthpiece the tails feathers. Together with Bertram Safferling von Matt presented his pipes on the German Intertabak 2000 doing a great gig there. Also with the next design "Bluebird" he stuck to the subject of birds, the Bluebird participating successfully in a competition in Leipzig in later autumn of 2000.
The design "Schräge Vögel / Odd Birds" became a further milestone and made him prize winner of the Form Forum Switzerland 2001, a highly regarded honoring. "Who knows the maker is aware that there is something provocative behind the ambiguous name", said von Matt about the pipes.
"Franz von Matt, formerly architect, today full-time pipemaker, searched for the novel and experimented with new surface technologies. He found the "Odd Birds". The pipe form is short, the smoke is nevertheless cool. The sculptural form is intended. The layman rejoices in the unaccustomed forms and colors of the Odd Birds." commented the jury and jury president Georg tailor set thereto: "At first sight the passionate pipe smoker first will look at them with some scepticism. This is unfounded: The Odd Birds perform at best what is expected of a tobacco pipe!"
Around 2001/2002 he had built up a very high reputation and there weren’t few who saw him on the way to the absolute top league. The quality specifications of an original FRANZ Pipe were extremely high. Only personally chosen plateaus of the best quality from Tuscany and Corsica were used. For reasons of quality every tobacco chamber was left in its natural state and smoothened with fine sand paper. Only some 60% of the pipes attained the imposed quality conditions due to cracks, inclusions and graining.
- AAA - Best Plateau quality with particularly fine Straight Grain, no spots, contrast natural colour staining, Carnaubawax polished. A maximum of 1% achieve a triple A.
- AA2 - Best Plateau quality with fine Straight Grain, no, or barely perceptible, spots, contrast natural colour staining, Carnaubawax polished. A maximum of 10% achieve an AA2.
- AA1 - Best Plateau quality with Straght Grain, barely perceptible spots, contrast staining, Carnaubawax polished. A maximum of 25% achieve an AA1.
- AAL - Selected Plateau quality, free of putty, 5-6 times dye application using flatting varnish technique, gloss polished surface. Maximal 10%.
- AAS - Selected Plateau quality with fine Straight Grain, sand blasted surface, stained and is matt. Maximal 15%.
Von Matt continued creating new shapes like "Willy" and the "Pelican" (... one more bird!) in 2002 or "Gina" and "George" in 2003. He participated in very many pipe shows, was a devoted protagonist of pipesmoking at many events of handicraft arts and opened his workshop for public workshop days. From 2000 on he held pipemaking courses at the Ballenberg center in the Canton of Bern. Thomas Habermacher was one of the attendents who later became a pipemaker.
While other colleagues rather saw themselves as a lone wolf, von Matt seeked the collaboration. He wanted to show that pipemakers are not envious competitors, but rather could learn from and inspire one another.
In February of 2005 von Matt closed his workshop in Teufenthal and moved to Zofingen (Argovia), where he built a new one with considerable expenditure. All the same he went back into his former profession as an architect working half-time as construction supervisor for the Community of Obergösgen in the adjacent Canton of Solothurn. In February of 2006 it was announced that he was appointed as superintendent of the planning department and building control office of the Community of Gränichen (Argovia) per April, 1st 2006.
Maybe, this decision was based on addiction, maybe, Franz von Matt, approaching his 50s, found it a little bit easier to live on a regular income than on the contingencies of pipemaking. During springtime of 2006 he sold out to a large extent but he kept back some essential machines and tools. He finished some more pipes - few indeed - till summer of 2007 and then finally quit, as his full-time occupation in civil service didn't allow to make pipes any more.
- 118 Pot
- 303 Billiard
- 305 Swing
- 306 Three Kings
- 321 Wing
- 383 Hugo
- 401 Susan
- 403 Marian
- 405 Silvia
- 503 Campanile
- 505 George
- 507 Gina
- 603 Tulipan
- 821 Timeless
- 841 Odd Birds
- 903 Willi
- 912 Coq du Bruyere
- 928 Pelican