Poul Henningsen (1894 – 1967), Danish author,lamp designer, architect and critic, was one of the leading figures of the cultural life of Denmark between the World Wars. In Denmark, he is often referred to as PH.
Poul Henningsen was born in 1894 in Ordrup, Denmark and became Denmark's first expert in lighting theory. Even though Poul Henningsen's is mostly known from his lamps his talent was very diversified. He was trained at the Technical School and the Danish College of Technology, Copenhagen. Ever since 1920 Poul Henningsen worked as an independent architect in Copenhagen where he designed several houses, a factory, a part of Tivoli, and the interiors of two theaters. Beside working as an architect Poul Henningsen wrote articles for several newspapers and periodicals, he scripted a number of revues for Copenhagen theaters, he wrote poems, and was the editor of the magazine "Kritisk Revy" (Critical Revue). From his writings Poul Henningsen was known as a seriously and sharp critical of society and architecture.
Henningsen wanted to recreate the soft gas lighting of his youth in his electric fixtures. Composed of concentric tiers of reflective painted metal bands, the PH design was carefully based on scientific analysis of a lamp shade's function. The goal of even distribution of light and reduction of glare determined the size, shape and position of the shades. Variations of the PH lamp design were made to accommodate various functions and spaces, and within a few years of its introduction the PH lamp was being used in world-class institutions and homes across Scandinavia.
Henningsen continued to design for Louis Poulsen well after these early successes, and in 1958 he produced yet another classic – the majestic Artichoke lamp. Based on the same principle as the multilayered shade, the Artichoke employs leaf-like elements to compose the form. With its grand size, the Artichoke creates dramatic atmospheric lighting appropriate for elegant commercial settings and larger domestic spaces.
It is a testament to the Scandinavian aesthetic – and Henningsen's genius – that a group of lighting fixtures derived from scientific principles can exude such warmth, elegance and soul.