Palainco Seriously light minded

The miracles that are called PH lamps – Part 1 – PH Wall Lamps

A series on the lesser known lamps by Poul Henningsen.

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Danish architect Poul Henningsen (1894 –1967), known by his initials, PH, is the legendary creator of many elegantly curved lamps with light-diffusing shades. Typical of Poul Henningsen’s lamps is the screen system that reflects the light source, eliminates glare and produces soft light. His magnificent and timeless light fixtures were—and still are—manufactured by Louis Poulsen.

  • 01_Palainco_Louis_Poulsen_Poul_Henningsen_PH_Wall_Lamp_Catalogue_B_1931-32_Portfolio_Palainco_Archive Selection of the impressive PH collection by Poul Henningsen presented in the 1931-32 catalogue (from the Palainco archive).
  • At the time of his death in 1967 Poul Henningsen had designed more than 100 lamps of which Louis Poulsen still sells more than twenty. We would like to give you an impression of his amazing work, with a strong focus on his lesser-known designs. In this article, we will focus on his wall lamps and sconces, or in Danish: væglamper & lampetter.

  • 03_Palainco_Louis_Poulsen_Poul_Henningsen_PH_Wall_Lamp_Catalogue_B_50_1953_Title_Vaeglamper_and_Lampetter_Palainco_Archive Wall lamps & sconces, Catalogue B 50 by Louis Poulsen, 1953 (from the Palainco archive).
  • The 1936 catalogue presented an extensive amount of wall lamps as the standard range. Most of the designs were small variations on the same theme with diagonal, curved and straight arms and either outward or downward lighting.

  • 04_Palainco_Louis_Poulsen_Poul_Henningsen_PH_Wall_Lamp_Catalogue_Liste_B_06_1936_Assortment_Palainco_Archive The huge standard range of wall lamps designed by Poul Henningsen in 1936 as published in Louis Poulsen, Liste B 06 (from the Palainco archive).
  • In addition to the large standard range, it was also possible to submit special requests. It was even announced in the catalogue El-Pe Belysninger: “Vi fremstiller specielle belysinger til alle formal” or in English: “We manufacture special lighting for all purposes.”

  • 06_Palainco_Louis_Poulsen_Poul_Henningsen_PH_Wall_Lamp_Catalogue_El-Pe_Arhus_Theatre_Renovation_1955_C_F_Moller_Architects_Palainco_Archive “We manufacture special lighting for all purposes” from the Louis Poulsen catalogue El-Pe Belysninger (from the Palainco archive).
  • 07_Palainco_Louis_Poulsen_Poul_Henningsen_PH_Wall_Lamp_Arhus_Theatre_Scala_Cinema_Concert_Hall_Renovation_1955_C_F_Moller_Architects Henningsen's wall lamps in the main hall in the Århus Theatre (source: C.F. Møller Architects).

    The most striking example of a special request you can find on the same page: wall lamps made of enamelled aluminium, which Poul Henningsen designed for the Århus Theatre. They were requested specifically by the firm responsible for the 1955 renovation of the theatre, C.F. Møller Architects.

  • 08_Palainco_Louis_Poulsen_Poul_Henningsen_PH_Wall_Lamp_Arhus_Theatre_Scala_Cinema_Concert_Hall_Renovation_1955_C_F_Moller_Architects A close look of one of the walls with Henningsen's creations (source: C.F. Møller Architects).

    The lamps still hang in the main hall of the Århus Theatre, but over the last years some double pairs —that were apparently elsewhere in the theatre— were sold for astronomical sums by auction house Phillips.

  • These Bouquet Wall Lamps for the Kino cinema in Silkeborg provide another interesting example. Poul Henningsen designed the lamps for a former colleague, Knud Sørensen, the architect who rebuilt the cinema in 1949.

  • 10_Palainco_Louis_Poulsen_Poul_Henningsen_PH_Wall_Lamp_Kino_Silkeborg_Cinema_1949_Knud_Sorensen Pair of Bouquet Wall Lamps by Henningsen (source: Phillips).
    09_Palainco_Louis_Poulsen_Poul_Henningsen_PH_Wall_Lamp_Kino_Silkeborg_Cinema_1949_Knud_Sorensen The Kino cinema in Silkeborg (source: Biograf Museet).
  • The Bouquet Wall Lamps are collections of 5 PH lamps, with top shades in metal and middle and bottom shades made of frosted glass. Sadly, the theatre doesn’t exist anymore and the pair from the left picture was on sale at an auction house in 2011.

  • The next lamp is also from the standard portfolio, although it’s unlike all other lamps by Poul Henningsen. It seems that Henningsen temporarily strayed from his otherwise characteristic visual language, to design a slightly more conventional fixture. This elongated lamp was offered in various lengths and with various light sources.

  • 11_Palainco_Louis_Poulsen_Poul_Henningsen_PH_Wall_Lamp_Elongated_Lamp_Palainco_Archive The lamp was mainly used for illuminating hallways and mirrors (source: Louis Poulsen – ‘Light Years Ahead’).
  • From the 1970s on, the range consisted of only a few wall lamps, certainly fewer compared to the vast amounts of lamps in the catalogues of the more distant past. Nowadays Louis Poulsen offers three wall lamps for inside use and two for outdoor usage.

  • 13_Palainco_Louis_Poulsen_Poul_Henningsen_PH_Wall_Lamp_Outdoor_Catalogue_Palainco_Archive Outdoor copper wall fixture that is still in production as shown in a catalogue from the 70’s (from the Palainco archive).
  • This is the first article in a series mainly on the lesser-known PH lamps. In the second article we showcased a selection of his floor lamps, in the third one we highlighted his table lamps and in future editions we will reveal some astonishing ceiling lamps.


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    • Literature: Ove Hansen, Steen Jørgensen, Tina Jørstian, Poul Erik Munk Nielsen, Kurt Nørregaard, and Allen de Waal, Light Years Ahead: The Story of the PH Lamp, ed. by Tina Jørstian and Poul Erik Munk Nielsen (Copenhagen: Louis Poulsen, 1994).

    Unless otherwise stated, all material is sourced and/or generated internally. All rights reserved.

    • Text: Palainco, Koos Logger & Ingrid Stadler.
    • Image sources: Louis Poulsen - various catalogues, Louis Poulsen – ‘Light Years Ahead’, C.F. Møller Architects, Phillips, Biograf Museet & the Palainco Archive.

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