Louis Poulsen: 150 years of great lighting

13 March 2024

Photo from Light Years Ahead

The company celebrates the anniversary with a tribute collection to its most iconic lamps

“Design to shape the light”: is the motto of Louis Poulsen, the company that this year celebrates 150 years in the design and production of lamps. Founded in 1874 in Copenhagen, the cradle of Danish and Scandinavian design in general, it has made lighting a real mission, placing visual comfort as a priority accompanied by a high technical standard and an always innovative design.

Louis Poulsen factory

Innovation, after all, is in the DNA of the company whose history is surprising. Before founding it, Louis Poulsen dealt with quality wines but when Copenhagen’s second power station was inaugurated in 1892, which would supply energy to the entire capital, his uncle decided to open a lighting shop. A far-sighted intuition and after four years Louis also began working in the family business which he then decided to take over upon his uncle’s death.

The real turning point came in 1924, when Poulsen involved Poul Henningsen in the design: with him, in 1926, he won the contract for the lighting of the new Forum building in Copenhagen with the PH Luminaire lamp. “The goal is to make lighting cleaner, cheaper and more beautiful thanks to scientific work” stated Poul Henningsen in those years and the scientific approach will remain a cornerstone of the company’s production.

Even when, in 1940, Henningsen designed a blackout lamp for the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen that allowed the gardens to be opened in the evening, without interfering with the military jets in the skies above.

PH 5 Louis Poulsen

In 1959, another decisive meeting took place for Poulsen: Verner Panton, with his innovative creativity and formal experimentation, created an aesthetic turning point, while remaining consistent with the company’s technical approach. “Most people lead boring lives of gray-beige conformity and are deathly afraid of using color. By experimenting with lighting, colors, fabrics and furnishings, and using the latest technologies, I try to show new ways to induce people to use their imagination and make the environment around them more exciting” explained Panton who, in addition to the revolutionary Verpan lamp, designed the Panthella, one of the greatest successes of the Louis Poulsen brand.

Louis Poulsen Panthella Floor Lamp
Louis Poulsen Panthella Mini

The 1960s saw the entry into the design team of Arne Jacobsen, another giant of the Danish school: he designed the AJ lamps for the SAS Royal Hotel for which he signed the project in its entirety, including interiors, furnishings, lighting accessories and even the crockery. In the second half of the 20th century and again in the 2000s, Louis Poulsen continued his search for the designers most consistent with his approach which combines technical quality and formal style, faithful to the icons that have determined his success but with an eye always aimed at the future and always in tune with technological innovation in the field of lighting.

Louis Poulsen PH 2/1
Louis Poulsen PH 5

Today, to celebrate 150 years since its foundation, Louis Poulsen gives some of its most famous icons a new look characterized by the pale pink color already chosen by Poul Henningsen for the original project of the PH Artichoke lamp. This soft, warm and current color identifies the Anniversary Edition which includes three iconic lamps. The first is the PH Artichoke in which pale pink is the color of the internal side of the characteristic leaves that make up the lampshade.

The second lamp involved is the PH 5 by the same designer: the idea is to replicate the candlelight and the space between the lampshades is in metallic brass which does not become opaque over time, giving a brilliant touch to the lamp and its light for a long time.

The third lamp included in the Anniversary Edition is the AJ Lamp in the mini version: designed by Arne Jacobsen, in this version it has a stem and switch in polished and untreated brass, which will transform into opaque over time. The pink of the lampshade makes the light, typically directed downwards, warmer and more intimate.

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