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Spotlight On Poul Henningsen

Updated: Jun 16

We believe that beautiful lighting can transform any space and Danish architect, author, critic and designer, Poul Henningsen (also known by his initials 'PH') felt the same - he was obsessed with light and lighting.


Early Life and Education


Poul Henningsen (9 September 1894 – 31 January 1967) was the fourth child of noted author Agnes Henningsen (1868–1962). Born out of an extramarital affair with satirist Carl Ewald (1856-1908), he and his three half-siblings grew up in their mother's home, without electricity, in the small town of Ordrup, in the northern suburbs of Copenhagen. Surrounded by literary and creative types, he was influenced to think and look at things differently. He trained at Copenhagen Technical College and then the Technical University of Denmark, where he studied to be an architect, although he never graduated.


Design and Lighting


From 1920, Poul Henningsen freelanced as an architect and designer. His most valuable contribution to design and his main focus was in the field of glare-free lighting. He dedicated his career to investigating the effect light and lighting has on our wellbeing. His theory was that the observer should not be subjected to the direct glare from an electric light source so he used a series of layered shades to both evenly distribute the light and conceal the light bulb, thereby creating a softer, more diffused warm lighting. Henningsen has been described as the world's first lighting architect and is the creator of the legendary lighting series that also bears his name.


PH Lighting Range


With the arrival of the electric bulb, Henningsen sought to recreate the softness of the gas lighting he grew up with in his childhood home. He set about experimenting with a series of lighting that had concentric tiers of reflective metal bands. In 1925, the Système PH-lamp went on to win first prize for modern lighting at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris. The next year the winning PH-lamp was put into production by Louis Poulsen & Co. in Copenhagen and has been in continuous international demand ever since.


PH Artichoke Lamp, 1958

PH Artichoke and PH5 Light Fixtures


In 1958 Henningsen produced two further lighting classics – the PH Artichoke and PH5 Lamps. Based on the same principle as the award winning Système PH multilayered shade, the Artichoke Lamp has leaf-like sections that compose the form and create eye-catching dramatic atmospheric lighting. The more bee-hive like PH5 was named as such due to the 50cm diameter of the main shade pendant. This lamp emits light downwards and laterally, thereby illuminating itself in a way, and the warmer tone of light is created by the inside red cone and small blue reflector.


PH5 Light, Poul Henningsen


Henningsen Outdoor Lighting


The great news is that the PH 3/2.5 Floor Lamp and Wall Light are both suitable for Outdoor use so your Outdoor Deck can be adorned with a true design classic. If you are looking for a vintage or original piece, trying looking for the PH 4.5/3 - there is no reason outside your home can't look just as good as inside.


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