George Kovacs: A Retrospective (1926-2007)
April 4, 2012 - 3:49pm

George Kovacs Lighting introduced the first halogen torchiere to the U.S. market in 1973. Already all the rage in Europe, the halogen-powered fixture produced enough light—bounced upward off the ceiling—to illuminate an entire room. This torchiere, available through Minka Lighting’s Kovacs line, is a reproduction of Kovacs’ original design.

Never without a sense of humor, Kovacs designed an adjustable, dual-head over-the-bed light and dubbed it the Save Your Marriage lamp in the early 1970s. This reproduction is among Minka’s current host of offerings.

But according to designer and business partner Alecia Wesner, the real historical significance of Kovacs’ legacy is found in the roster of celebrated designers with whom he worked over the years. In 1983 he paired up with Rudi Stern and Dan Chelsea of New York City-based lighting gallery Let There Be Neon to manufacture a collection of technology-forward neon-infused halogen fixtures and portables.

In 1987 Kovacs began manufacturing the Merns Collection, designed by Boston architects Cary Tamarkin and Tim Techler. Enamored of the magic of lighting, Kovacs was particularly interested in the design process and in the use of new technologies, Wesner says. He looked for these same qualities in the designers with whom he partnered.

Wesner joined Kovacs in 1998, and under his tutelage grew into a successful designer in her own right. The best-selling SIMPLY Kovacs lamp, designed by Wesner, was the beginning of the Kovacs-Minka Lighting relationship. In 2002, Kovacs officially partnered with Wesner to form the Kovacs-Wesner Design Group. Kovacs closed his Queens, NY, factory and entered into a licensing agreement with Minka.

Kovacs continued to champion young, up-and-coming designers throughout his career. He introduced Karim Rashid’s colorful murano glass-laden Soft Collection at High Point Market in October 1999.

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