Poul Henningsen

Henningsen was born in Copenhagen and grew up through an era of war and sweeping change. He was a controversial character of his time. He studied at technical college and began practicing traditional, functional architecture before pursuing a career as an inventor and painter. Alongside design he had a literary career as a critic and an author which he used to try to connect his passions of culture and politics. However it was his lighting designs that defined his successful career. Henningsen’s pioneering design was the result of 10 years of work. In 1925 he showed the first of his PH lamps at the “Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes” in Paris. They gained universal acclaim. The same year he began his life long collaboration with Louis Poulsen . His lighting designs were remarkable, he carefully analysed light, shadow and its reflection within the shade. Using multiple shades to diffuse the light, his beautiful lamps produce a glare free, uniform illumination. These pioneering concepts were the basis for all of his subsequent lighting designs. By the time he died Poul Henningsen had designed over 100 lamps. His designs are still sold worldwide today and  are upheld as design icons.

“The technician should never forget that he is an artist, the artist never that he is a technician”

Poul Henningsen


In 1958 Poul Henningson designed the Ph5 in response to manufacturers constantly the changing shape and design of bulbs. The lamp was designed to accommodate any kind of light source, from Christmas lights to filament bulbs. Ph5 was based on an award winning, multi-shade system he released  in 1925. The three spun-aluminium shades reflect the light downward and laterally as well as hiding the bulb. The light is glare-free from any angle and any position within the room. The multi-shade design set the precedent for all of Henningsen’s lighting. The PH5 was constantly revisited and improved as knowledge was acquired. Colours were subtly added under the reflective shades to enhance colours in the light spectrum where the eye is least effective. Materials used were re-evaluated as energy saving techniques became common place. The PH5 is testament to Henningson’s commitment and architectural approach to his lighting designs, digging down beyond the aesthetic and into the mechanics of the eye and light.


PH Snowball Pendant

The PH Snowball designed in 1958 is another example of Henningson’s mastery and determination to create flawless light. The Snowball is designed so every surface reflects light at the same angle, evenly illuminating the room without glare. When turned on only the top part of the lamp is illuminated  and the bottom remains dark. The glossy top shades reflect the light whilst the matt lower shades prevent reflection. The snowball emits an even warm glow reminiscent of the petroleum lanterns of Henningsen’s childhood.

PH Artichoke

The PH Artichoke was designed by Henningsen in 1958. Originally designed for a restaurant in Copenhagen the Artichoke has become an international design icon. The 72 metal ’leaves’ hang from 12 steel arches carefully staggered so as to cast glare free light from any position or angle. The light source is tucked way in the centre of the fixture hidden from sight but able to emit a diffused light with a unique pattern. The Artichoke is a beautiful pendent, all the more striking once illuminated.

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