The PH 5 and PH Artichoke are among Poul Henningsen’s most beloved lighting designs. Louis Poulsen marks his 125th birthday with new versions of these eternal classics.
31 May, 2019
‘Innovation’ is a word that’s commonly used today – often in the business, marketing and technology worlds, and to the point that, many would suggest, it has lost its core meaning. But while marketing speak may have had a distorting effect, there’s no mistaking true innovation when you see it.
And there is no better word than ‘innovative’ to describe the mastery of Poul Henningsen (1894–1967), whose inventiveness with the design of glare-free lights the 1920s was so groundbreaking that it remains influential and revered today. That’s because his ‘design to shape light’ philosophy served a real, tangible purpose and improved experience. Henningsen brought comfort and artistry to the experience of electric light – something unrestrained by time.
True innovation often springs from a broad and informed perspective, which inspires curiosity about why things are as they are, and how they could be better. Unsurprisingly, Henningsen was not only a lighting designer (his primary legacy) but also an author, cultural critic and influential thinker. He left his mark on many areas of Danish thought and design, winning celebrity in Copenhagen for his literary talents and social criticism. He also served as the head architect of the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.
This year marks 125 years since the birth of this innovative talent, and Louis Poulsen – which worked closely with him from 1924 onwards – is celebrating his legacy with new versions of the beloved PH Artichoke, PH 5 and PH 5 Mini. Henningsen’s fascination with ‘the good light’ was based on his recognition of the human need for both darkness and light. It drove his pioneering work and remains the foundation of Louis Poulsen’s lighting philosophy today.
Henningsen’s lighting innovations, each one forging a most human illumination, continue to grow in popularity. The PH Artichoke is a powerful example of this. When Hennsingsen first designed this iconic pendant for the Langelinie Pavillonen restaurant in Copenhagen in 1958, he chose a copper finish paired with a delicate rose finish on the interior side of the leaves. The combination creates a particularly soft and warm appearance, and an equally gentle light output.
The original copper/rose version of PH Artichoke is available for sale exclusively in 2019 in all pendant sizes. Each one features an engraving commemorating Henningsen’s 125th birthday alongside his signature.
The PH 5 collection is another testament to the visionary nature of Henningsen’s work and its timeless appeal. Named after the diameter of its largest shade (50 centimetres), PH 5 followed on from his earlier three-shade system. PH 5 emits both downward and lateral light, thus illuminating itself as well as the area beneath it.
This year, Louis Poulsen is releasing both PH 5 and PH 5 Mini in commemorative editions that pair brass shades with white tiers. This is the first time that the PH 5 is being made available with a brass finish. The mirrored finish of the brass reflects the surroundings to enhance the visual engagement of the pendant. The metallic-and-white combination, meanwhile, highlights Henningsen’s shade system. This year’s brass editions of PH 5 and PH 5 Mini build on the metallic palette established with the special copper editions of 2018, which marked the sixtieth anniversary of the PH 5.
Henningsen developed PH 5 in 1958 in response to the constantly changing shape and size of bulbs being produced by bulb manufacturers at the time. He wrote upon its release, “I have designed a PH fixture which can be used with any kind of light source – Christmas lights and 100 W metal-filament bulbs. Although a fluorescent tube would be too much to ask in the existing form!” Irrespective of the light source used (including today’s LEDs), PH 5 remains entirely and satisfyingly glare free. And that is truly innovative.
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