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Poul Henningsen 1894-1967

Poul Henningsen 1894-1967

"Future comes by itself. Progress does not."

Poul Henningsen studied architecture, was a published author, and became a critical voice in both artistic and political circles. But it was in the field of interior lighting that Henningsen made his most innovative mark—and why he may fairly be called the father of modern lighting design.

Henningsen, affectionately known as PH, was a Danish intellectual whose fascination with light and its effects on the human psyche was the genesis for a series of lighting models that remain icons of the modern design movement. His fascination with the incandescent light bulb—and dogged search for a light fixture that could replicate the glowing warmth of the kerosene lamps of his youth—spawned the PH series, lighting fixtures which featured a signature system of layered metal shades.

The PH’s petal-like arrangement of overlapping curved  forms was carefully constructed to disperse light evenly while shielding the light bulb and its glare from the human eye. Recognized as an iconoclastic design at the 1925 Paris Exposition of Decorative Arts, Henningsen's initial PH pendant was put into production by Copenhagen lighting manufacturer Louis Poulsen in 1926—a company with which Henningsen would build a lifelong relationship—and has remained in continuous production ever since. By the end of his life, Henningsen had more than 100 lighting designs to his credit, including 1958's Artichoke pendant, a masterpiece of modern design that explicitly illustrates Henningsen's innate feel for layered, visually transcendent compositions.