Northern Lights: A Closer Look At Poul Henningsen

Whenever it feels like society has lost its bearings, we find ourselves coming back to the wisdom and works of the great masters. And while they each must be understood in their own context, they were all united by the desire to create a more comfortable world than the one that went before.


For no designer was this truer than Poul Henningsen. A man of many passions, he painted portraits, directed films and wrote his ideas into every aspect of Danish culture. However, it was in the evocative language of light that he truly excelled.

“The technician has an old dream of turning night into day. I think that dream is wrong. We need the rhythm of day and night.”

As with any epic tale, the hero must have an adversary. For Henningsen it was the unflattering glare of the electric bulbs that began to emerge at the beginning of the 1920s. He understood then what ergonomics experts would take decades to diagnose: that attempts to make lighting as cheap as possible would come at a cost to our health and the way we experience the world around us.

When he realised that he couldn’t stop the tide of modernity, he decided to create solutions. Today, they are known as the PH collection, a breathtaking series of over 30 lights created in partnership with Louis Poulsen.


In celebration of what would have been his 126th birthday, we’re delighted to be launching three distinct PH collections — the PH 5 & PH 5 Mini in new monochromatic colourways, the Septima Pendant Light and the much-coveted 2/1 Table Lamp in stunning amber-tinted glass.

2/1 Limited Edition Table Lamp

Daylight takes on an almost sacred aspect in northerly climes. One of its many disciples was Henningsen, who would spend hours tracing the trajectory of the sun, observing its quality and luminance. In doing so, he sought to capture the golden hour — that beautiful time of day when the sun showers everything it touches in a rich and buttery light.

“Daylight will never escape the tone of a sunset that we want in our room.”

Poul Henningsen at Louis Poulsen


PH 2/1 Table Lamp

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His studies lead to the development of the three-shade system, a precise configuration that would allow for soft direct light as well as a distinct upward glow. This pyramid-style illumination would go on to become a founding principle of Scandinavian lighting, updating the ugly electric glare with something more subtle.


The release of this much-loved classic in limited edition amber-glass reveals the glory of a fading sun that Henningsen strove so hard to achieve. Ideal for those who tend to burn the midnight oil, it’s rich, nostalgic tones make for a cosy work companion no matter the hour, or else as a beautiful brass accessory when switched off.

PH Septima Pendant Light

If the 2/1 is a sunset, then Septima is the ice that settles over Scandinavia for half the year. Originally designed in 1927, it features an ethereal seven-shade crown, crafted entirely from Italian borosilicate glass. Mesmerising in its delicacy, it taps into the enchanting, ethereal nature of light —  emerging from the darkness as a living, glowing sculpture.

Septima Pendant Light

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Mesmerising Pendant Lights


So graceful is its silhouette that when it was revealed for the first time at the Danish Museum of Decorative Art, the art critics in attendance got to their feet in a standing innovation. Unfortunately, voracious demand for glass during the Second World War meant that it was put out of production in the 1940s, never to be seen again. We hope that its return 80 years later can inspire the same delight as its initial debut.

PH 5 Mini and PH 5 Monochrome Pendant Lights

The PH 5 is perhaps the most famous of all Henningsen lights. For Poul, it was the final straw, the design that heralded his all-out surrender to the plethora of different shaped bulbs that were now flooding the market.

“I have accepted fate, and with Louis Poulsen’s permission, I have designed a PH fixture, which can be used with any kind of light source — be it Christmas lights or 100W metal filament bulbs.”

Sheathed within it’s carefully positioned tiers is a generous compartment, into which a bulb can be slotted and effectively concealed from view. The flared tiers were then arranged as visor lines to ensure a gentle flood of vertical and horizontal light no matter where it is placed.

PH 5 Mini Pendant Light


PH 5 Pendant Light


The new monochrome versions tap into two of the underlying sentiments of contemporary times: a desire for timelessness and a rejection of all that is superfluous. Design purists will fall head over heels for the matt-white or black versions. They represent a no-frills approach to interior design — rooted in classic styles for maximum impact.


Optimists, on the other hand, will find hope and beauty in the vibrant blue edition. As sharp and zingy as the ultramarine patented by Yves Klein in 1960, it injects a rush of life into any living space — a confident hue that speaks of new discoveries and exotic possibilities.

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