An il­lu­mi­nat­ing look at the leg­endary Dan­ish light­ing com­pany that boasts creations by some of the most iconic ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers of our time

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents -

We take a closer look at the life and work of min­i­mal­ist de­signer Ward Bennett, delve into the his­tory of leg­endary Dan­ish light­ing com­pany Louis Poulsen, and chat to fash­ion­turned-in­te­rior de­signer Bella Freud

Though its his­tory dates back to 1874, when it was founded as a wine im­porter by Lud­vig R Poulsen, one could ar­gue that Louis Poulsen’s true story as one of the world’s most in­flu­en­tial light­ing com­pa­nies be­gan in 1924. That year, an ama­teur Dan­ish ar­chi­tect named Poul Hen­ningsen ( below) ap­proached Louis Poulsen & Co – by then known as a purveyor of elec­tri­cal goods – with an idea for a light he wanted to present at the Paris Ex­po­si­tion In­ter­na­tionale des Arts Dec­o­rat­ifs et In­dus­triels Modernes. The de­sign came with a set of three shades, which con­cealed the light­bulb and gave off di­rect and indi­rect light that was warm and flat­ter­ing. The con­cept won the Paris Ex­po­si­tion 1925 gold medal, and the very next year, to­gether with Louis Poulsen, Hen­ningsen was tasked with light­ing the Fo­rum Build­ing in Copen­hagen, where the first ‘PH’ pen­dant lights were de­buted to much crit­i­cal suc­cess. That same year, Louis Poulsen pub­lished its first light­ing cat­a­logue.

By 1958, Hen­ningsen had pro­duced two more break­through de­signs: the 72-leaved ‘PH Ar­ti­choke’ pen­dant for Copen­hagen’s Lan­gelinie Pav­il­lo­nen restau­rant and the ‘PH 5’, which in­cluded an ad­di­tional shade for up­light­ing. Both Hen­ningsen and Louis Poulsen had be­come house­hold names, so much so that when ar­chi­tect Arne Ja­cob­sen was tasked with de­sign­ing the SAS Royal Ho­tel in Copen­hagen in 1960, he turned to the com­pany to man­u­fac­ture his de­signs for the ‘AJ’ ta­ble (above), wall and floor lamps and the ‘AJ Royal’ pen­dant, all in­trin­sic parts of his ‘ Ge­samtwerk’ (to­tal work) phi­los­o­phy, which saw him de­sign not only the ho­tel, but ev­ery de­tail of its in­te­ri­ors. The list of il­lus­tri­ous names Louis Poulsen has worked with since is a who’s-who of the world’s de­sign scene: Verner Pan­ton, Fos­ter + Part­ners, Gam­fratesi, Clara Von Zweig­bergk, Oki Sato of Nendo and many, many more.

In 2011, Louis Poulsen be­came the first light­ing man­u­fac­turer to win the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects award for ‘Col­lab­o­ra­tive Achieve­ment’ – and for good rea­son. The brand con­stantly up­dates its de­signs: whether it’s mak­ing the ‘AJ’ wall lights us­ing LEDS for out­door use, or re­leas­ing six new, cheer­ful colours for the ‘PH 5’ on its 60th an­niver­sary this year. And this doesn’t just ap­ply to the clas­sics: Swedish de­signer Clara Von Zweig­bergk’s bright ‘Cirque’ pen­dant lights from 2016 were re­cently re-re­leased in a pal­ette of greys. Per­haps Hen­ningsen’s great­est legacy to Louis Poulsen was the never-end­ing quest for light­ing per­fec­tion. louis­

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