Architect Poul Henningsen (1894 – 1967), or PH as he is often called, has become synonymous with 20th-century Danish lighting design. Trained at the Copenhagen College of Technology, Henningsen was a proficient inventor, a prolific writer, and a sharp critic of art, architecture and society. PH grew up with his single mother, the Danish writer Agnes Henningsen, in the soft glow of the petroleum lamp. As electrical lighting gained way in the early 1920’s he struggled with the blinding glare from the electric bulb and began to develop a lamp that would have the same soft, relaxing qualities of the petroleum lamp. The result of his efforts, the three shaded PH lamp, represented a long investigation into the properties and effects of light and even to this day, the PH lamp is renowned as one of the highest achievements within incandescent lighting design.
In the decades to follow PH continued to develop new models based on the same basic principles. This led him to the work with the Spiral lamp, designed in 1942 for the main hall in the University of Aarhus in Denmark. The idea of PH was to make it look as if it was drawn in one long stroke. The whole shade is held together by three arms onto which a small angle is brazed at the point where the correct position of the shade was meant to be.
Poul Henningsen died 50 years ago, but his light design continues to live and inspire.