Fred Lowen (1919-2005) started two of the most important furniture companies in Australian design history - Fler Furniture and Tessa Furniture.Fritz "Fred" Karl Heinz Lowen was a major influence upon Australian design. Born in Germany. He escaped to Belgium just prior to WWII and was evacuated to England in 1940. After being transported to Australia he was reclassified as a friendly enemy alien in 1942 and released to work. Lowen's manufacturing career began at a lathe when he was asked to make a salad bowl. The bowl was a success and by 1945 he had started a small business as a wood turner selling salad bowls, platters and other items to gift shops.
Lowen then started a partnership with his close friend Ernest Rodeck, they founded a company called FLER (a combination of the two partners' initials). The company had a humble beginning, Lowen made turned woodware and Ernest made propelling pencils. Lowen was destined for greater things and by 1948 FLER had entered the furniture market.
Lowen completed a course in Furniture Design & Construction at Melbourne Technical College (RMIT) from 1949-50. He was joint managing director and chief designer of FLER and from mid 1964 took a sabbatical year to undertake Design Studies with Professor Herbert Hirche at Stuttgart Academy.
In 1966 FLER was taken over by Australian Controls. Lowen continued as Design Director of the company for two years but in 1968 he left to start up Twen with good friend Howard Lindsey (now Tessa). Success came quickly and the company soon received international recognition at the Cologne Furniture Fair and built a strong reputation for well designed high end furniture.