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George Kovacs Lighting - The History and Beauty of George Kovacs Lighting

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George Kovacs lighting is a line of contemporary designer lamps and lighting accessories, founded by George Kovacs. Kovacs, who died on June 22, 2007, was a Vienna-born designer who emigrated with his family to the United States. He first worked in the lighting industry at a lamp store for the sum of $50 a week. He studied design under several people who had worked closely with the architect Josef Hoffmann. Eventually, he started selling the lamps of Austrian manufacturer J.T. Kalmar in the U.S. The rarity of the lamps made them extremely popular and profitable. Kovacs earned enough money to open his own import store, and began selling lamps designed by Isamu Noguchi and Ingo Maurer, among others.

The success of Kovac’s import store inspired him to begin working with designers on his own lamp styles. Kovacs worked on his lamps with the designers Karim Rashid and Harry Allen, as well as Robert Sonneman, the architect. He gained a reputation for being able to foster creativity and promote the essential integrity of the design, a sensibility that many modern European designers found especially welcoming. Kovacs eventually licensed his name and corresponding line of company products to the Minka Group.

George Kovacs lighting offers lamps for almost every conceivable domestic area, including bath lighting, floor lamps, chandeliers, table lamps, sconces, and even illuminated mirrors. Many of the wall lamps and sconces feature beautiful ornamentation, coupled with the sleek, seashell like opacity of the lamp element itself. The chandeliers emphasize elegantly positioned rectangular lighting elements, with a simple suspension. Some of the chandeliers reference the more traditional style with regularly placed rectangular elements, while others play with this concept and arrange the rectangular elements to mimic sails or even acoustic theatre design.

The floor lamps encapsulate glamour without being ostentatious; once again, the semi-opaque rectangular lighting element is merged with an almost architectural base of matted silver, with solid black dividers at regular intervals, almost like an otherworldly shaft of bamboo.

The variety of overhead lighting, including island lights and the so-called pendant, retains the elegant, simple suspension of the chandelier, but incorporates more resolute shapes and vivid coloration. The George Kovacs island light features groupings of red conical lighting elements suspended from a slender silver bar. Meanwhile, the pendant’s single lighting element pinches in tightly at the top, and then expands gloriously, describing a full, welcoming circle of light.

The George Kovacs arc floor lamp and table lamp are studies in beautifully realized curves. The lighting element visibly completes the end of the curve without making the item feel unbalanced or heavy. Instead, each lamp feels buoyant, as if at any moment it may spring into action. The torchiere, meanwhile, is a shiny, pole straight wallflower, attempting to light the room without calling undue attention to itself. Of course, its rigid stance, coupled with its bronze-like finish, makes it impossible not to notice.

The Minka Group plans to continue marketing the George Kovacs lighting line in accordance with its own set of design principles.

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almost 6 years ago

There is erroneous information throughout this "historical' account of Kovacs.

Alecia Wesner
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George Kovacs Lighting