Poul Henningsen

1894-1967

Writer, architect, and designer. An atypical family environment encouraged him to follow a non-traditional life path from early childhood. At the age of three, he was given his workbench. 

In the 1930s, he was the editor and publisher of the left-wing magazine Kritisk Revy, which is of historical importance in the context of democratic architecture and design applied to mass production. He was also involved in writing film scripts, revising songs that encouraged an open-minded lifestyle, and even painting before training as a carpenter and stonemason. 

As a designer, it was primarily lamps that he worked on. His goal was to bring good design to all of them, including “under the thatched roofs.” Following this idea, his most famous PH5 lamp appeared in the perfect shape he had worked on for ten years. He was convinced that the everyday objects around us affect a person’s well-being and quality of life, mainly on a subconscious level. 

Raised in the era of kerosene lamps, Henningsen approached the sensational discovery of electric light with little enthusiasm. It was too harsh and blinding for him. He developed lampshades that direct the light stream downward to minimize its negative impact, creating a softer and evenly diffused effect. The lampshades’ colors and materials provide a warmer shade of illumination. He designed about 100 lamp models of various categories, from ceiling lamps to wall sconces to floor lamps. To get the perfect effect, he experimented in his home, where he painted the walls black specifically for this purpose.

Several light shades made it to the Arts décoratifs exhibition in Paris in 1925. Henningsen was honored with top prizes in all six categories. The design’s success fulfilled Henningsen’s dream of a high-quality, functional product that could be mass-produced.

The inspiration for most of his designs came from nature. The PH Grand Piano’s glass cover resembles a butterfly’s wing, while the PH Pope Chair and PH Desk’s base resembles a plant’s delicate roots. The PH lamp allows light to pass through the shade like sunlight gently passes through the canopy of tree leaves. 

Key designs: PH5, PH Artichoke, Snowball

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