On the 1st of July 1934, Reininghaus & Co. was entered into the Commercial Register, laying the foundations for the lasting success of the ERCO Light Factory. Arnold Reininghaus, together with Paul Buschhaus and Karl Reeber, founded the company in economically difficult times that were characterised by recession and unemployment. After only a few short years, the humble 6-man operation had developed into a successful mid-sized company that industrially produced luminaires for the home and sold through wholesalers and retailers. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, production was shifted to the war effort, but just before the end of hostilities, the factory was destroyed in an air raid. In 1946, twelve years after its foundation, the company had to start again from scratch. Co-founder Paul Buschhaus had fallen in the war, his heirs opting to be paid out, leaving Arnold Reininghaus and Karl Reeber to continue to run the business on their own. At the Hanover trade fair in 1947, which was held in tents, ERCO presented its pre-war catalogue pages. The company endeavoured to reconnect with former customers who had been scattered to the four corners of the earth. The reconstruction of Germany and the country’s "economic miracle" brought a change of fortune: ERCO became the largest manufacturer of spring-balance luminaires in Europe. In the mid 1960s, Reininghaus appoints his son-in-law Klaus Jürgen Maack to the ranks of management and puts him in charge of market research, product development and communication. At Lüdenscheid’s northern city limits, on a site measuring around 30000m², the new production facilities and administration building take shape. Maack’s analysis of the luminaire market led him to be rather sceptical about ERCO’s future prospects. He reasoned that the changing lifestyle habits of the Germans and their European neighbours, combined with rising income and the resultant increase in prosperity pointed to a more discerning luminaire market. His resultant strategy focused on five points: light should become the central orientation of the company, product systems should take the place of individual products, findings from lighting technology should be channelled into the development stage and the design should have a longevity of at least ten years and be the work of renowned designers. With the "Light not luminaires" concept in mind, Klaus J. Maack met up with one of the most distinguished designers of his time: Otl Aicher (1922-1991). The initial meeting was only to negotiate the licensing of Aicher’s pictogram system for a series of directive sign luminaires, but mutual respect and appreciation led to a cooperation and long-term partnership resulting in a new logo, printed media, a company brochure and catalogues. Further developed until the present day, this material ultimately led to ERCO’s much-awarded corporate image. Winning the German marketing award in 1980 gave the "Light not Luminaires" concept official recognition and acclaim. At the same time, the company was also expanding; sales and exports boomed and ERCO was developing into a global brand for light - with top international projects such as the Glass Pyramid of the Louvre in Paris and the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank in Hong Kong. Cooperation with outstanding personalities in the field of design inspired the company, spurring it onto new heights - documented by countless awards for product design, graphic design and corporate identity. In the course of the Internet boom, the ERCO website was launched in 1996 at www.erco.com online. Following the accidental death of Otl Aicher in 1991, however, the development of a presence in digital media became the first design challenge the company had to tackle on its own. Since the reconstruction of the Reichstag in Berlin by Norman Foster in 1999, ERCO lighting tools have illuminated the new parliament. Digital electronics are not only starting to be used in communication and logistics but also in the lighting tools themselves. Designers involved: Mario Bellini, Franco Clivio, Knud Helmuth Holscher, Ettore Sottsass, Roger Tallon.