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Designer spotlight: poul henningsen

Respected as the illuminating king of design history, Poul Henningsen is a genius Danish innovator, known for his clever lamp work. With a keen interest in the expressive effects of light, he developed gorgeous lamps that exude a uniform radiance. Working as an instant mood-setter, these lamps create a warm ambiance, while their minimalist designs modernize any space. Ultimately, owning a lamp by Poul Henningsen suggests sheer style, yet being familiar with his work and background lends even more authority to these conversation-starting pieces.

Early years

Poul graduated as an architect at Technical College in Copenhagen from 1914-17.

Although he began practicing traditional functionalistic architecture, over the years, he became inspired by the alluring nature of lighting. It is this interest which he is currently referred for.

However, beyond this scope of architecture, his expertise expanded into other areas of creativity, including journalism. During the early years of WWII, he was the head architect of the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, leading the construction of its famous glassalen structure. But eventually, he had to flee Denmark during the German occupation, causing him to join the Danish colony of artists living in Sweden.

The PH lamp collection

Most notably, Henningsen is known for his PH lamp collection. Standing as one of his highest accomplishments, these pieces were both visually and functionally revolutionary. He used his expertise in the nuances of light rays, playing with reflection and diffusion of the bulb, to craft a warm, glare-free  brilliance.

Floor lamps

Among the best known from this collection is the PH 5 Floor Lamp. It was designed in 1958 and showcased at the 'Glass, Light and Colours' exhibition in the Danish Museum of Art and Design in Copenhagen. Henningsen conceived it as a novelty light, one that you may essentially use all types of lights-- glow worms, Christmas lights or even metal filament bulbs. To enhance its atmospheric effects, it’s made with red and blue reflectors for an incredibly warm quality, bringing a softer ambience to rooms. Its versatility and chic simplicity makes it an iconic work in the PH collection.

Other praise-worthy pieces in this collection include the PH 3.5/2.5 Floor Lamp. It  features a three-tier curved opal glass shades that softly diffuse light while directing it downwards. The tubular stem of the lamp is constructed from chrome and comes in a choice of three finishes: aluminium, gold or black. These industrial materials give the lamp a modern architectural look, offering a touch of vogue to your interior.

Similarly, his PH 5 Table Lamp retains the same design theme on a smaller scale. The fixture stands oveis held by three structural bars resting over a base, while the bulbs are house under various overlapping saucer-like shapes. By embracing the simplicity of shape and pattern, it takes on a stylish architectural look. This motif is consistent among many of Henningsen pieces, giving it a modern elegance and slightly urban appeal.

Wall & ceiling fixtures

The PH 3/2 Chandelier retains Henningsen’s architectural motif. It reveals a clever positioning of chrome and concentric opal glass shades and evenly distributes light to create a feeling of harmony within the room.

For a funkier design, the PH 3-2.5 Wall Lamp brings the outdoor downtown vibe to your indoor space. Inspired by a street lamp, its sturdy modern-looking steel bars uphold various saucer-shapes which domes the bulb. In turn, the piece is both artistic and  brilliantly functional, particularly for its light-unifying powers.

Finally, one of his most famous lamp creations outside the PH series is his Artichoke Lamp. Capturing that fast-paced, go-getting vibe of the city, this piece is the epitome of cleverly bringing outdoor designs to indoor spaces. Decor experts consider this metal artichoke lamp to be a structural marvel, crafted with aluminum leaves and an innovative plunging concept that leaves everyone in awe. Overall, Henningsen’s lamps create a visual spectacle, taking the integrity of lighting to a whole new level of expression.