Since 1934

Ninety years of Leolux in nine models

Leolux has something to celebrate in 2024: the foundations of the present-day company were laid exactly ninety years ago. It started life as a small manufacturer of traditional club-style furniture, and became an international designer brand. For three generations, Leolux has been a family company in all the best ways. Its rich history spans good times and bad, and the products that have found their way to lovers of fine furniture worldwide, have been very much of their time. Here’s an overview of Leolux’s history based around nine of its most iconic models.

1934 – 1944

Rosendaal (1941) – club-style furniture from the southern Netherlands

Zuid-Nederlandse Clubmeubelfabriek (South Netherlands Club Furniture Factory) was established in Venlo, on the river Maas, on 9 May 1934. It was a Dutch subsidiary of the German manufacturer Rhenania, just across the border in Viersen. This small company made traditional club-style furniture of the kind that was popular at the time. After the difficult war years two local brothers, Jan and Ton Sanders, bought the factory with family money in 1948. They had ambitious plans for it.

Rosendaal is a fine example of the kind of furniture the factory made during those early years. Its design was anything but progressive, but it was a work of great craftsmanship by highly skilled upholsters; much more than today, the end result was shaped very much by their personal styles.

1944 – 1954

Model 141 (1952) – A young company making great strides

Ton and Jan Sanders took two important steps after acquiring the business in 1948. First, they opened an adjoining showroom where retailers and their customers could try out the models for themselves and even see them being made, which was unusual at the time.

The brothers also made an important change to the collection itself. In 1952, under the Leolux sub-brand, they launched several more graceful models that were significantly different from the existing heavy club furniture. One of these was the model 141.

1955 – 1964

Model 104 (1958) – Inhouse designs with an Italian flavour

During the 1950s, Jan and Ton became fascinated by the designer furniture of northern Italy. They added several Italian models to the Leolux collection under licence, and developed their own designs in this new style.

The first piece designed in Venlo for the ‘Italian’ collection was the model 104, which used a new upholstery technique based on foam rubber shaped parts and elastic webbing. It gained many fans, and became the bestselling model of 1958 and 1959.

1965 – 1974

Model 685 (1967) – The sofa with folding arms that put Leolux on the map

Leolux’s model 685 caused a stir at the 1967 Cologne furniture fair: it had folding armrests between the back cushions. Harry de Groot, the company’s inhouse designer, got the idea during a fact-finding trip to Italy.

De Groot was sitting in the back of Ton Sanders’ Peugeot, which had folding armrests. These had been commonplace in cars for years, and he realised that this simple idea could solve a problem with furniture: what to do with your arms when sitting on a three-seater couch. De Groot’s solution apparently was a breath of fresh air, as the model became incredibly successful.

01 - 02

1975 – 1984

Mink (1982) – Full speed ahead

In 1981, Ton and Jan Sanders passed the baton to a new generation: Ton’s son Jeroen, and Johan van Beek. With a boldness learned from their predecessors, they launched a mix of sleek, compact and innovative designs.

One of these was Mink, designed by Jan Armgardt in 1982, with rounded corners designed for snuggling. Together with Axel Enthoven’s Bora Bora and other models by these two great designers, Mink triggered a period of dramatic growth after the oil crises of the late 1970s.

Mink - Jan Armgardt

Bora - Axel Enthoven

1985 – 1994

Pallone (1989) – The armchair of the future

Het Huis van de Toekomst, The House of the Future, was an educational project showcasing the role of technology in modern homes. When it opened in Rosmalen in the Netherlands on 20 June 1989, Roy de Scheemaker, of design studio Boonzaaijer en Mazaïrac, designed an armchair for it. With its distinctive rounded shape, it seemed almost to float above the ground.

The house of the future

Leolux developed the prototypes for the project, and saw the potential of the design. The Pallone chair made its debut in the collection a year later, and has become an iconic favourite in the thirty-five years since then. Available in bright multicoloured versions or more muted single-colour designs, it was as popular as it was versatile, and the launch marked the dawn of a particularly successful period in Leolux’s history.

1995 – 2004

Danaïde (1997) – The essence of flexibility

The launch of Danaïde at the 1997 Cologne furniture fair had everyone talking. Designed by Stefan Heiliger, it was described as ‘a butterfly that metamorphoses from sofa to lounger’. The footrest moved up and down at the touch of a button depending on how Danaïde was being used.

01 - 04

This model was a work of art in its own right, living proof that Leolux wasn’t afraid of thinking outside the box. It didn’t sell in huge numbers, but that wasn’t the intention. Danaïde was a pioneering design with a big impact that paved the way for the rest of the collection.

Production locations in Venlo

Design Center Eindhoven

2005 – 2014

Parabolica (2009) – Moving with the times

Over a decade later, Leolux’s trademark audacity was still amply in evidence. The company celebrated its 75th birthday in 2009, still combining reliability, innovation, and artistry. The anniversary gained Leolux a great deal of media and dealer attention, and the launch of a new model added to the buzz.

The house of the future

The Parabolica armchair was designed by Stefan Heiliger, who drew the basic concept with a single flowing curve on a piece of paper. Its organic, asymmetrical form could be used in three different ways: relaxed reclining, normal sitting, or working with the armrest as tabletop. Parabolica won a Red Dot Design Award, confirming Leolux’s continued status as a big hitter.

2015 – 2024

Caruzzo – Timeless values

The family company’s third generation took over in 2012. With Sebastiaan Sanders at the helm, Leolux continued to innovate in a fast-changing world, with a focus on developing close relationships with consumers and helping them to create their dream homes.

The Caruzzo swivel armchair is the perfect embodiment of Leolux’s founding principles. This spectacular creation by The Hague-based designer Frans Schrofer has won a Red Dot Award. It offers the same exceptional comfort you’d expect from any Leolux product, with the craftsmanship that has characterised the company since 1934 instantly apparent in the Artisan ornamental seam.

Artisan ornamental seam

2024 -

Looking forward to our centenary

Of course it’s great having such a rich history to reflect on, but one thing that has put Leolux in the forefront is our ability to look to the future. We take innovative decisions with the emphasis on craftsmanship and a close-knit organisation. We plan to continue doing this, working with our partners and fellow design lovers to make the world we live in a little bit more beautiful each day.