If you are into classic simplicity and Danish and Scandinavian design, you have most certainly heard of Poul Henningsen. If not, the two letters PH might jolt your memory. PH is an acronym for Poul Henningsen’s full name and also the name that has been given to his famous lamp series, which have become timeless classics within the last century. But how is it possible to create iconic lamps that after 5 decades are still as popular as ever? To understand this, you have to take a closer look at Poul Henningsen’s background, which is quite unorthodox for a designer.
The journey that led to iconic lighting
Poul Henningens began his design journey in the beginning of the twentieth century, where he started his career studying architecture, however, as many creative individuals he had to flee the country under the German occupation during the Second World War. Not because of his interest in architecture, and later the wonders of lightning, but because he also worked as a journalist and writer. He was known for having radical views, something which was frowned upon by the government at the time of the occupation as well as after the war. Poul Henningsen fled to Sweden and came under the influence of Scandinavian design-tradition which holds strong references to nature – which can be seen in some of his designs. Influenced by Scandinavian design and classic Danish simplicity, he entered into a lifelong collaboration with Louis Nielsen where he created iconic and pioneering lighting. Some of his most iconic pieces are the PH lamps series, the Artichoke, the Snowball and the PH5 and PH80.
Revolutionising lighting theory and designs
Poul Henningsen did so much more than designing iconic lamps. He revolutionised the role of lighting and how it is perceived by the human eye. Because that is what he had; an eye for great shapes, enchanting shadows, mesmerising colour reproduction and a very special knowledge of the human glare.
All this has resulted in pioneering work on lighting theory, which played an important role in the design process and is still in use today. In 1925 Poul Henningsen entered into collaboration with Louis Poulsen, and there is no doubt that the Louis Poulsen can be said to have been blessed with his genius.
That is, even decades after Poul Henningsen’s passing Louis Poulsen still benefits from his extraordinary knowledge of lighting theory and brilliant designs, since his lamps are as popular as ever.