For almost eight decades, Leolux has been choosing the evolutionary route. Innovation and calm growth, steady but with a clear goal. A dynamic family business with a long history and a keen vision on design and the future. Leolux has been producing all its furniture in Venlo since 1934.
In 1934, the Zuid-Nederlandse Clubmeubelfabriek was established. With only a few workers, the company manufactured traditional furniture. The initial years were turbulent, certainly when the company was situated on the front line in 1944. After the war, the company came under the management of “Boerenleenbank”, which was appointed by Ton Sanders to watch over it. A couple of years later in 1948, together with his brother Jan, he bought the Zuid-Nederlandse Clubmeubel-fabriek with family money that they scraped together. As with many companies, the story only just starts to take shape following the initial years of ups and downs.
During the second half of the fifties, Danish and Italian designers entered the scene and they did not go unnoticed by the brothers. They admired the new foam materials, artificial leathers and other upholstery techniques, and applied them without hesitation. Classic seams were abandoned. Risk-taking formed a basic principle. The young designer, Harry de Groot, joined the company with heart and soul and together with the brothers put a modern collection together. The proud lion in the ZNC-logo became the luxurious lion “Leolux”, a brand name that would quickly cover the whole company.
When The Beatles were conquering the world, Leolux was struggling with the market. Ambitions were great and Leolux was sometimes ahead of its time. The brothers had exciting visions that meant years of effort. In 1964, the Limburgians opened their own 1400 square metres of showroom in the heart of the Netherlands. It was a giant step, but successful. The collections became even more adventurous. As the new decade was ending and when things were dying down for The Beatles, the breakthrough came: Leolux became a concept and a serious player in the modern furniture market.
In 1973, the first oil crisis broke out and nostalgia was “in” until the second oil crisis in 1979. Real modern was temporarily “out”. In the meantime, for the large part, the furniture industry was lost. Leolux fought its way through the crisis by investing in a young management team and exporting to Belgium and Germany. In the German Ruhr area, Leolux GmbH established itself with its own daring sales centre. In Eindhoven, the Netherlands, Leolux became an established brand by opening a second showroom that provided access to the south of the Netherlands and Belgium.
Slimmer but healthier, Leolux survived the deep recession of 1979 to 1982. A new generation took over at the helm: Jeroen Sanders and Johan van Beek. They took over the shares of the brothers in phases and set a course based on the philosophy established during the first 40 years, albeit with a totally individual interpretation. Between 1981 and 2001, the turnover multiplied sixfold in a long growth curve. Muchtalked- about products from a broad group of international designers enriched the collection, showing the company’s forward-thinking attitude, which resulted in provocative details and innovations. Leolux became a serious International player at a high-quality level. At the start of the nineties, together with Philips, Leolux created “Plugged Furniture”, furniture and audiovisual equipment in one. It was a revolutionary attitude towards these traditional black boxes and defined the next step at Leolux: Electrically adjustable sofas and armchairs transformed Leolux by stimulating a further evolution in comfort and applicability.
The new century has seen a turbulent beginning. Leolux decides not to play safe and relies on its creativity to turn the tide. A totally new concept is realised in annuals, design centers, photography and architecture. “The world full of beauty and the special” make sure that Leolux focuses the attention on itself. The owners are meanwhile working on their successors, and at the end of 2004, Johan van Beek relinquishes his tasks as Director, Jeroen Sanders withdraws behind the scenes with effect from 2009. But before that happens, they realise their dream: the Via Creandi visitors centre opens its doors in a new architect-designed building.
In 2012, the third Leolux generation takes over the helm. Sebastiaan Sanders, Jeroen's son, becomes the face of Leolux and develops a portfolio with - alongside Leolux - new strong brands such as Pode and Leolux LX (contract), each with its own position in the market. Leolux continues to build on the values of previous generations, and is investing in sustainable materials and production methods, in contemporary communication and innovative, headstrong models to show end users the way in the contemporary collections. There is also a new tool for consumers to get in touch with all the possibilities of Leolux: the online "Creator".
To give the various brands their own identity, Leolux is working with freelance art directors who supervise design, photography, trade fair presentations and product development. Studio Roderick Vos, for example, has been working on the corporate identity of the Pode brand since 2016. From 2020, Studio Truly Truly (Kate & Joel Booy) is responsible for the art direction of the Leolux brand.
The ambition to innovate remains and so, almost 90 years after its foundation, Leolux remains a benchmark in Europe for Dutch design.