The Danish architect and designer Poul Henningsen (1894-1967) is one of the most significant figures in Scandinavian design. He is also famous as a journalist and author in Denmark. Henningsen's product designs are the result of collaboration with the manufacturer Louis Poulsen and have greatly contributed to the latter's success. The "PH" lights by Poul Henningsen are still bestselling lights and representative Scandinavian design.
Poul Henningsen was born in 1894 in Ordrup, Denmark. His mother was the writer Agnes Henningsen and his father, the author Karl Ewald. This modern and tolerant family had a huge influence on Henningsen's political opinions and also on his literary career. Henningsen was interested in many things, which explains why he studied architecture and painting in Copenhagen before he turned to designing furniture and light fixtures.
Henningsen designed the PH lights and gave them a revolutionary three-diffuser system, which guarantees absolutely glare-free light and discreetly conceals the lamp. The Louis Poulsen Company presented this light fixture for the first time in 1925 and put it on the market the following year. This light has ensured Poul Henningsen and Louis Poulsen celebrity.
Until his death in 1967, Henningsen designed other light fixtures for Louis Poulsen. He was also a prominent personality in Danish cultural life as an author of critical texts on society.
Poul Henningsen signed his designs with his initials, "PH". This plain name is in line with Henningsen's design philosophy. His designs are kept simple and functional, and are easily recognized. Their timeless beauty demonstrates that even if the PH lights will soon be a hundred years old, they are still fresh and modern.
The main idea behind the PH lamp design is to prevent the light from glaring and to harmoniously spread it in the room. For this purpose, Henningsen developed a system with three diffusers, which lends a special shape to the light fixture, and turns it into an unparalleled designer classic.
In the 1960s, two other iconic PH lights followed. The suspension PH5 uses the same principle as its predecessor and has several overlapping metallic shades to prevent the incandescent lamp from glaring. An inside reflector produces coloured light. Henningsen oftern used this technique to counter the undesired visual effects of artificial light. This UFO-like light fixture is also an iconic designer classic and one of the most famous Danish lights.
PH Artichoke by Poul Henningsen is a large suspension with a shade consisting of numerous reflectors which resemble scales. It is reminiscent of a pine cone or an artichoke and is eye-catching when used as a modern chandelier.
Portrait: Louis Poulsen