The history of a company and the history of an age: Gebrüder Lübke becomes interlübke, the ‘polished bedroom’ is followed by the endless cabinet and years of growth are intertwined with difficult times. What has not changed over the years is our passion for attractive contours and fine details, for good ideas and uncompromising quality. That’s typically interlübke.
Wiedenbrück in Westphalia: brothers Leo and Hans Lübke set up their own small furniture factory. Leo is a carpenter and joiner, Hans is a commercial clerk; both have gathered considerable experience in building furniture at the company of their brother Heinrich, who has been producing tables and chairs in neighbouring Rheda since 1918. In contrast to Lübke & Rolf (later: Lübke KG) in Rheda, Leo and Hans specialise in polished bedroom furniture, which quickly turns out to be a fast-selling, absolute hit. After just a few months, their Gebrüder Lübke KG has a payroll of 70.
During the Second World War, the Lübke brothers produce for the Wehrmacht: makeshift housing and furniture for officers, crew lockers and beds, ammunition chests, aircraft parts and the interior furnishings for buffets and salons in railway wagons.
The factory is converted to provide accommodation for the British occupying forces. The Lübkes now furnish railway wagons for these forces. The logo of their company since 1937 has displayed a double ‘L’. It is later modified to show two horizontal half-moons (1954), and then is later replaced by the word logo ‘interlübke’ (1962).
The Economic Miracle sees the German people buying more and more furniture for their homes. The demand for tables, beds and chairs rockets. Hans Lübke attends to the commercial and financial side of the company, while Leo Lübke is involved in development and production. ‘Form follows function’ is one of the carpenter’s mottos who, at an adult age, attends courses in design theory at the college of applied art in Bielefeld, and: ‘Something is only perfect when there’s nothing else to take away’.
When Hans Lübke, as one of the two founders, passes away, the furniture of the Lübke brothers is already established as a quality brand for living rooms and bedrooms. The family company delivers furniture from Rheda-Wiedenbrück to customers throughout Germany and its neighbouring countries.
Together with the Prince of Bentheim-Tecklenburg, Leo Lübke founds a factory for upholstered furniture in Rheda-Wiedenbrück. A name for this associated company was soon found: COR, Latin for heart. Because three hearts adorn the co-founding prince’s coat of arms. The start-up company is registered in the name of Leo Lübke’s 18-year-old son Helmut, who does, in fact, take over the management of COR six years later.
An airmail letter arrives in Wiedenbrück from Addis Ababa: a supplier of the Ethiopian emperor thanks the Lübke brothers for furniture for the Imperial Palace that has arrived there safe and sound. ‘The Emperor himself,’ it read ‘has expressed his complete satisfaction with the delivery.’ European heads of state also relied on eastern Westphalian quality furniture: on a trip to visit troops in Germany, HRH Princess Margaret from Britain spent the night in a bedroom that was produced by the Lübke brothers specially for the noble visitor.
With interior designer Michael Bayer, lecturer at the Detmold technical college, the company recruits a particularly creative head. As interlübke’s creative director, Bayer designs trade fair stands and catalogues, creates furniture (for instance the legendary 127 range) and is the first person – in truly pioneering style for the industry – to have a catalogue illustrated with photos instead of drawings. interlübke is, at this time, the only German furniture manufacturer to pursue active brand management, for example by only supplying its products to selected furniture stores.
The 127 extendible programme radically distances itself from the traditional bedroom combinations common in the fifties. By selecting individual elements from the 127 range, a complete room can be planned and set out to save space for the first time.
The name ‘interlübke’ appears for the first time to designate 127’s successor programme. It doesn’t sell too well and soon disappears from the range. The name, however, thought up by interlübke representative Ulrich Kramer, reflects ‘interior’ and ‘internationalism’ so harmoniously that, without further ado, it is coined as the new company name. From this, Michael Bayer develops the word logo we know today.
Leo Lübke, sen. meets the best decision in his life: when Swiss interior architect Walter Müller presents a so-called endless cabinet to him, he grabs it. The model comprises only a few pieces and can be endlessly extended by adding units to it – in those days an absolutely revolutionary furniture concept. Thwarting resistance from within the company’s ranks, Lübke backs this cabinet and, named ‘interlübke 63’, it advances to become the firm’s most successful product. It has been developed further and is, still today, in the range as S 07.
interlübke grows and grows. The product portfolio is extended by programmes for living rooms and dining rooms, Architect J. G. Hanke designs a new award-winning head office. With its reduced design, pure lines and in cool white as the dominant colour, interlübke furniture advances to become the epitome of progressive modernity in the sixties.
Horst Lübke, the son of interlübke founder Hans Lübke, takes over partial responsibility for the company. Initially, he manages the firm jointly with Leo Lübke, then alone after Leo's death in 1975.
Typical for interlübke is that continual refining and honing of what may be called details. One example here is the opening mechanism of the ‘gliding-door wardrobe’, which opens silently with just a tip of the finger – a very quiet, but immensely useful invention by the detail-devotees at interlübke.
When Leo Lübke passes away, his widow Christine (head of personnel), Josef Bolte (sales director) and Horst Lübke (management spokesman) take over management of the company.
The products to emerge under their aegis include the off-the-shelf programme ‘bip line’, the cupboard programme ‘alternum’ and two genuine interlübke classics, namely the ‘studimo’ and ‘duo’ ranges.
With duo, interlübke launches a decidedly youthful and trendy range of furniture for the first time. The creator is designer Peter Maly, who exerts considerable influence on interlübke’s portfolio in the seventies and eighties with furniture programmes like mutaro, duo and a redesign of the classic 40S. With Rolf Heide and Peter Kräling, interlübke later recruits more creative companions.
interlübke celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding. A grand gala is held at the Gütersloher city hall and a Golf GTI is auctioned off among staff. Thomas Gottschalk compères the evening.
At a time proving very difficult for the company, Helmut Lübke takes over as head of the company and, together with his son Leo, also all of the shares. Under his management, interlübke returns to the basic brand assets: clarity, consistency, quality.
Helmut Lübke dies during a trip to Africa. He is succeeded by his son Leo Lübke, jun., ushering the third generation of the Lübke family.
COR and the interlübke house are opened in an historic former cardboard box factory in the heart of Rheda-Wiedenbrück. On around 3,000 m2, the elaborately restored factory houses the world’s largest exhibition of COR and interlübke furniture plus a collection of COR and interlübke exhibits from 55 years of furniture history.