Happy birthday to Peter Maly, grateful memories of Helmut Lübke

Both men have made furniture and design history: Peter Maly as a designer, Helmut Lübke as an entrepreneur and managing director of COR from 1954 to 1994. Congratulations to Peter Maly on his 80th birthday today! Only a few months previously, in June 2016, Helmut Lübke would also have been eighty years old.


Rheda-Wiedenbrück, 19 August 2016. Together they created many classics and influenced not only German, but also international interior design culture over several decades. The close working relationship between Peter Maly and Helmut Lübke (born in 1936, died in October 2006) was based on clear principles, with both men belonging to the same generation and sharing similar professional origins; both began their careers as joiners. The first of many fruits of their longstanding cooperation for COR appeared in 1969 in the form of Trinom – contemporary, almost gaudy seating furniture made of coloured plastic and featuring comfortable upholstery. Models including Zyklus, Cirrus, Tabo, Attendo and Circo were to follow. 


Both men considered 1984 to be a milestone year. At that time, Helmut Lübke, company owner in Rheda-Wiedenbrück, wrote to Maly in Hamburg: "A few months ago, whilst preparing the COR exhibition stand for Milan, just for fun, you furnished the model with chairs from your daughter Laura's doll's house." This toy furniture inspired the entrepreneur to create light and transparent seating furniture, which created a sumptuous look, even in smaller rooms: "What could be better suited than a graceful tubular frame?" From this idea the easy chair classic Zyklus was born, a true Maly design with its interplay of geometric forms, circles, circle segments and steel tubing.


Helmut Lübke's enthusiasm is still valued by Peter Maly today: "If he was all fired up about a project, he stayed with it. He made design his own personal priority, and the same goes for his son Leo." From this dialogue between manufacturer and designer, COR continually produces successful models, amongst which are Maly's particular contributions with his easy chairs Circo and Zyklus. The designer always emphasises that he creates industrial products, not individual pieces, that he follows his creative concept, but also considers economic factors. Helmut Lübke summed up this approach ten years ago as follows: "A designer is also responsible for ensuring that a company makes money with his creations." He had observed that many lacked the courage to create simple designs. He considered Maly, on the other hand, to be capable of abstraction and of displaying a recognisable signature style that he would employ judiciously for COR as well as for interlübke. Maly, for his part, observes: "Elementary geometric forms, circles, squares, flat rectangles, never become obsolete. It will always be possible to develop new forms from them."

Holistic design

Maly's life journey has been less geometric. Following forced displacement from his Bohemian birthplace Trutnov, schooling in Herborn, a joinery apprenticeship and interior design studies in Detmold, Maly joined the magazine "Schöner Wohnen" in 1960. Ten years later, he opened his own studio for design and interior architecture in Hamburg. The seventies were not a good time for him: "I could play all the keys on the piano, but I hadn't yet found my own melody." In the eighties he finds his guiding principle: His approach is holistic, his designs aspire increasingly to be complete works; also in the conception of trade fair stands, showrooms and photographic productions. Since 2006, Maly has also devoted himself to furniture designs that reflect the spirit of ancient Japan, combining them with European modernism. He remains fascinated by a purist style of living where house, garden and nature are connected. ResponsibilityTo this day he shares Helmut Lübke's love of water and affinity for the natural. Lübke expanded on the design principle "form follows function" in his own way: "The focus must be on people. A item of seating furniture that is not good to sit on is not a good design. Ecology is a further criterion: Excellent quality and responsible use of resources are essential. Humanity cannot afford throw-away products." In their work, both were always opposed to visual depreciation and agreed that the formal language of design must stand above time.

Classics in their own

Helmut Lübke, who co-founded COR at the age of 18 and headed it successfully for forty years, mastered committee and association activities and overcame business challenges with unwavering optimism and firmly held principles. He believed that an entrepreneur must be a role model: "Words lecture people, but examples win them over." With this approach, he not only made COR a renowned brand and helped bring success back to interlübke after a difficult period, but as President of the German Design Council he also raised the profile of German design far beyond the furniture sector. His Westphalian doggedness created a fruitful dialogue with outstanding designers. The relationship between Lübke and Maly created a working community, a close friendship – and genuine classics.


Contact COR Sitzmöbel

Berthold Strüve, Marketing Director
Nonenstraße 12, 33378 Rheda-Wiedenbrück, Deutschland
t +49.(0)52 42.41 02-240, b.strueve@cor.de

The East Westphalian seating furniture manufacturer has continuously reduced its greenhouse gas emissions according to its recently published Sustainability Report 2022/2023. It has also improved its environmental footprint in many other respects.

Sponsored by the German Institute for Service Quality, the DUP UNTERNEHMER magazine and ntv, the award went to the East Westphalian seating furniture manufacturer for first place in the category of recycling with the CORever second-life programme.…