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Anton Lorenz

Biographies
Anton Lorenz

*  1891
† 1964 Greenwich


The Hungarian Anton Lorenz did not only become famous as a designer of timeless steel tube furniture, but also as a clever businessman and as the protagonist in the quarrels over the copyrights and creatorship of the cantilever chair. Born in Budapest in 1891, Anton Lorenz was teaching history and geography in his hometown up until 1919. After his wife, an opera singer, had found an engagement in Leipzig, he moved to Germany. Anton Lorenz had been working in the locking business in Leipzig before he moved to Berlin in 1927, where he met Kalman Lengyel, who was looking for production facilities for Marcel Breuer's designs, with whom he had just founded the company "Standard Möbel" (Standard Furniture). The two business- and fellow countrymen soon found an agreement, and Anton Lorenz produced Breuer's designs in his own metal workshop and was also business manager of "Standard Möbel".
Anton Lorenz, who obviously had the right touch in businnes, was always looking for new sources of income. He was interested in Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's cantilever chair. After van der Rohe had rejected Anton Lorenz`s offer for a joint venture, he turned to Mart Stam in 1929, who was the inventor of the cantilever chair without rear legs. Anton Lorenz acquired the rights for Stam's chair and started his own company "DESTA" (Deutsche Stahlmöbel-German Steel Furniture). "Standard Möbel" was taken over by the company "Thonet" the same year.
After numerous law suits over the copyrights for the cantilever chair that Lorenz had initiated and successfully managed, he gave all rights in the product range of "DESTA" to "Thonet", where he was appointed head of the legal department at the same time.
However, Anton Lorenz was not only a businessman: In the 1920s he was also designing steel tube furniture. The steel tube divan with waxed thread covering "LS 22" from 1931 is his most famous design. The elegant minimalist piece was at first produced by "DESTA", but soon after by "Thonet". A re-edition of the modern classic was launched by Thornet in 2006. After the lawsuits over the cantilever chair had been won by Anton Lorenz, he tried to claim further patents and marketing rights for trend-setting designs. He acquired, for instance, the licenses for stackable chairs after designs by Mart Stam, Alvar Aalto and Bruno Pollak in 1953.
He went on a business trip to Paris in 1939, the same time World War II broke out. In the face of the political situation, Lorenz decided not to return to Germany and tried to gain a foothold overseas, staying in the furniture and patent business up until his death in Greenwich/Connecticut in 1964.

Cf.: Bauhaus-Möbel. Eine Legende wird besichtigt = Bauhaus furniture. A legend reviewed, ex. cat. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin and Bauhaus-Museum Weimar, Berlin 2002.