Copenhagen is full of small independent shops. International brands are here and of course there are large department stores with all the well-known labels but almost all streets and squares have long-established specialist shops selling the very best in Danish design.
Højbro Plads (Plads meaning square) is the large space that opens off the south side of the famous Walking Street. Here on either side of the square and within about a hundred Metres of each other are two of the most well-known lighting companies in Copenhagen.
Out of the square at the bottom or south-west corner and actually on Gammel Strand and looking across the water towards the Palace Chapel is Louis Poulsen. Founded in 1874, this company has always employed top Danish designers including Arne Jacobsen and of course Poul Henningsen who began working with the company in 1924. Henningsen designed the classic PH5 which was launched in 1958. It took its name from the designers initials and the fact that it had a diameter of 50 centimetres. This was the classic metal lamp shade or should I say that this is the classic lamp shade most often used over a dining table and found in many Danish homes in the 1960s and 70s. It has a series of metal shades linked by curved metal columns that enclose the bulb and produce an amazingly beautiful and soft light.
I found an early version of this shade on an antique market in Copenhagen about 5 years ago. It is in deep grey with white - an unusual colour combination as the most common style is white but with a red or soft purple inner shades that slightly tints the light. It throws a soft light up to the ceiling and there is a pool of light over the table and no one sitting round the table gets dazzled.
However long I sit admiring it, I still can’t quite see how it works it’s magic.
Poulsen are a large and successful company and produce a large range of interior lighting, garden lighting and commercial lights. The showroom on Gammel Strand is primarily offices and design studios for their commercial contracts but the showroom on the street front is open to the public - although note that you do have to go to a shop or supplier elsewhere once you have decided on the lamp you want.
Off the top end of Højbro Plads, to the east, just along Lille Kongensgade is Le Klint, famous for their pleated lampshades first designed by Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint about 1900 along with shades designed by his son Tage Klint who formed the company in the 1940s. If the idea of pleated shades conjours up images of the paper lanterns sold by Habitat and BHS and found in most student flats and a good number of homes in Britain through the 1970s then think again. The lampshades from Klint are like beautiful sculptures in crisp white parchment.
They also sell restrained and well-proportioned standard lamps and bedside lamps and an ingenious scissor action wall lamp in wood that can extend a light out over a work surface or over a reading chair.