ERCO and Playboy: Room for dreams
“The 1950s to 1970s were defined by major influences coming from Hollywood – even in Europe,” reports Klaus Jürgen Maack, who took over as CEO of ERCO in the 1960s. Despite the fact that the Bauhaus was considered the architectural ideal in post-war Germany, the German edition of the Playboy demonstrated an affinity with American and avant-garde architecture and design in the mid 20th century. A PR campaign for architectural luminaires in 1973, for instance, reads “Adjustable lamps on practical tracks provide enlightenment: light makes the dark look that much nicer”. A generously sized double-page spread showed luminaires from ERCO, Staff and Kaiser hanging in a row on a single track above a couple in an intimate atmosphere. Yet another rather unusual cooperation between ERCO and the Playboy was the special edition of the TM spotlight – a glamorous chrome version of ERCO’s elegant limited edition luminaire that was state of the art in the 1970s.
“The TM spotlight became one of ERCO’s most popular spotlights and was displaced by flatter lighting tools only with the technology leap to LED” states Klaus Jürgen Maack. “But Marketing Manager Christoph Rudolf and I discussed our cooperation with Playboy at great length – I was of the opinion that it was not a good fit for our brand.” Taking the point of the “Playboy Architecture” exhibition organisers that the men’s magazine in this this era was a medium introducing pioneering architecture to the mass public, its cooperation with ERCO does, in retrospect, seem to make sense. Light, as architecture, can after all provide a backdrop for dreams.