Poul Henningsen

DENMARK (1894–1967)

Although Scandinavia has contributed numerous classic pieces to modern design culture, few have truly achieved international iconic status; Poul Henningsen’s PH Lamp is one that has.


Trained as an architect, Henningsen is best known for a series of lighting fixtures that resulted from his fascination with the then-new technology of the electric light bulb. In 1925, one of these fixtures won first prize for modern lighting at the International Exposition of Decorative Arts in Paris. The next year it was put into production by Louis Poulsen & Co. in Copenhagen, and it has been in continuous international demand ever since.


Having grown up at the turn of the century in a small Danish town without electricity, Henningsen wanted to recreate the soft gas lighting of his youth with his electric fixtures. Composed of concentric tiers of reflective painted metal bands, the PH design was carefully based on scientific analysis of a lamp shade’s function. The goal of even distribution of light and reduction of glare determined the size, shape and position of the shades. Variations of the PH Lamp design were made to accommodate various functions and spaces, and within a few years of its introduction the PH Lamp was being used in world-class institutions and homes across Scandinavia.


Henningsen continued to design for Louis Poulsen well after these early successes, and in 1958 he produced yet another classic – the majestic Artichoke Lamp. Based on the same principle as the multilayered shade, the Artichoke employs leaf-like elements to compose the form. With its grand size, the Artichoke creates dramatic atmospheric lighting appropriate for elegant commercial settings and larger domestic spaces.


It is a testament to the Scandinavian aesthetic – and Henningsen’s genius – that a group of lighting fixtures derived from scientific principles can exude such warmth, elegance and soul.

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