In 2015 will celebrate its 30th birthday. With 35 permanent employees, dealers throughout the world and a growing network of designers from Berlin to Tel Aviv, the company can quite rightly consider itself as a trendsetter in international lighting design. Rather than resting on its laurels with its successful concept, the firm repeatedly blazes new trails – all the while showing that innovation and tradition are definitely not mutually contradictory.

Manfred Wolf Quadrat 1985: Manfred Wolf working on his luminaire QUADRAT

1985: Start-up at imm Cologne
When Jean-Marc da Costa and Manfred Wolf first met as students, they could never have dreamed that they would one day illuminate a synagogue in the USA, design arguably the smallest LED wall luminaire of its kind on the market and win numerous design awards. Da Costa and Wolf are not dreamers, but doers. That may not initially sound very romantic, but the strength of the brand lies precisely in this attitude and in the courage to give each development the space it needs. Status, Reflex, Basis, Quadrat and Lift – the names of the first series already say a great deal about the duo’s understanding of design. Puristic, pragmatic, almost sober. You can discern the influence of the Bauhaus and De Stijl. An aesthetic that in times of postmodern pluralism and the highly ornamental design trends of the 1980s is downright provocative in its rationality and functionality. It was precisely with this that the two young designers impressed the design scene when they presented their series at the Cologne furniture store Martin Stoll parallel to the imm Cologne in 1985. Barely six months later, 30 CI furniture stores stocked and there were extensive articles on the young company to be found in the specialist press – it was their breakthrough.

At home in Frankfurt
For Jean-Marc da Costa and Manfred Wolf Frankfurt/Main is both home and playground. Part of the corporate culture involves a social commitment in the region as a company, for example through the collaboration with the Hainbachthal not-for-profit enterprise. A particular passion and specialty of da Costa and Wolf is designing hospitality outlets, such as the restaurant ‘Margarete’, illuminated by, in the heart of the historic center. As an homage to the ‘Frankfurt Kitchen’, it also demonstrates that an awareness of tradition and modernity are perfect partners – wholly in keeping with’s understanding. Beyond the illumination of buildings, has also established itself as an organizer and mediator between design and culture. Its attachment to the art and architecture scene can be seen in the numerous events of recent years. As co-sponsor of the exhibition ‘Nove Novos – Neun Neue: Emerging Architects from Brazil’ at Deutsches Architekturmuseum for instance, invited Brazil’s most promising young architects to an informal get-together. And at the exhibition ‘Weniger, aber besser’ (Less, but Better) at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst, even early designs by were displayed.

Seeking innovation
Today more than ever, the brand is defined by its powers of innovation. Each luminaire is characterized by its own special features, while the collection is unified by the uncompromising functional quality of the light. The design follows the innovation. For light is like perfume: really good when it has already served its purpose before people notice it. An almost-forgotten Belgian embroidery technique may serve as inspiration for new products – as with the ‘smocked’ lampshade of the new floor and suspended luminaire GENTLE – or lightweight construction technologies used in filter technology, adapted in the design of REEF. Moreover, rapid developments in the illuminant sector pose both technical and formal challenges, which is happy to face. The firm most recently demonstrated the skilled symbiosis of high-end technology and flawless design at Light + Building 2014, where it presented three trailblazing LED innovations and five collection models converted to LED technology. The LED wall luminaire APP, which can be individually configured, and the LED luminaire range CURLING are ideally suited to use in the property sector thanks to optimized light output, lighting control and a variety of sizes. In addition to technically oriented luminaires that can be used in large numbers, the brand has also positioned itself in the design world with striking oneoffs. With eye-catchers like the two-meter-high arc lamp CENTRAL makes formal statements that are thoroughly intended to have a certain relevance for the ‘history of the luminaire’ – “an ambitious standard, but one which the company is happy to be measured against”, says Manfred Wolf.


Central Floor 2015: Central Floor

Living the Light!
Living the Light! The company’s claim sums up its fascination for and commitment to light. When developing its innovative models the firm allows itself the luxury of slowing down: Only when the perfect interplay of light, technology and design has been found and a luminaire developed to which nothing can be added and nothing taken away is it produced. The result: luminaires that have visibly been completely thought through. Formally not too heavy, but not too transparent either, a luminaire finds its own place while accentuating light and open spaces. designs luminaires for people for whom form is more important than bling and materiality more important than fashion. Perhaps that is why their products fit in so well with our times. Indeed, today’s urban interior is homely, sustainable and unpretentious. Personality and quality over streamlined massproduced goods – is committed to this understanding of values, and that can be felt in all areas, be it in the product itself, service, trade-fair presentations or the new catalog. In the conception of the newly launched website too, clearly states that brand profile and authenticity are the most important criteria for the firm. The result is impressive – the website received the DDC Gold Award, the Red Dot Award and the ADC Bronze Nagel.

2015 and beyond: New products – new world of lighting! in 2015: A company that has grown with its employees, its fans and its partners. A brand that repeatedly manages to remain loyal to its own traditional values and at the same time have a future-oriented mindset. This also includes seeing light as a whole. For light is becoming ever more relevant in a cultural and social context and defines our urban living space like barely any other phenomenon. The emotional impact of light inspires’s vision of innovative design as well as questions of sustainability. What opportunities does 3D printing offer? Which illuminants offer the best combination of light quality and energy efficiency? has recognized the potential as well as the responsibility that comes with being a manufacturer of luminaires. The challenges of the future regarding light in all its aspects will continue to guide the company’s work in developing innovative, sustainable design solutions.

To the next 30 years of! Living the Light!