A new desk and work light - the NJP Table designed by Oki Sato from nendo - shown in the entrance lobby to Louis Poulsen on Gammel Strand in Copenhagen
Louis Poulsen established their headquarters on Gammel Strand in Copenhagen in 2006, the year after they moved production from Copenhagen to a new factory and research and development centre in Vejen in Jylland (Jutland) .... all development and production for lighting from Louis Poulsen has been kept in Denmark.
Those Gammel Strand offices focused on commercial business. Although general visitors were welcomed - I went there many times over the years on every visit to Copenhagen - the display of lighting was straightforward, comprehensive and tended to concentrate on technical aspects and practical things like dimensions. Absolutely fine for a trade buyer or an architect or for someone like me who wanted to compare different lights or see the latest design. It was the catalogues and then the in-house magazine Louis Home that tried to show a potential buyer how the lighting can be used in homes and commercial buildings.
However, with the recent and extensive remodelling, of the space at Gammel Strand, the large ground-floor desk and reception area has gone, the area of display open to visitors has been extended up onto the first floor in addition to the old area immediately across the front of the building at street level. Furniture and other design items have been brought in to give the light fittings a clearer sense of context and the general consumer an amazing amount to look at and be inspired by.
Lights from Louis Poulsen are not simply lights … or rather not simple lights. They have to be seen in several ways. The company dates back to the late 19th century but the character of their light fittings and the importance of their designs really date from their collaboration with the architect and designer Poul Henningsen in the 1920s. He worked on a technical analysis of electric light as a source of artificial light (in those early days of electricity when oil, gas or candle were still used for many homes) and that technical approach has influenced or even, to put it more strongly, dominated the products from the company since. It is the quality of the light, the control of glare with complex curved shades that baffle or redirect the light; the use of metal shades or opaque glass to create different forms and different effects and the control of levels of light, from illuminating a work area to creating an appropriate atmosphere in an area where you are relaxing or resting, that have exercised the designers ever since.
In addition to all that, lights from Louis Poulsen have a role in a room or, externally, on a building even in bright natural light during the day. Many of the lights are deceptively simple but have bold and beautiful curved silhouettes or sculptural profiles and are used by designers to give spaces and facades definition, or balance, or a sense of order. That might seem to be an exaggerated claim for a light fitting but just check out how often lighting from Louis Poulsen is used by major architects on major projects.
Both the technical aspects of the lights and their importance for interior and exterior design is difficult to appreciate from a catalogue if you are not a professional … not an architect or designer. Hence the importance of the changes to the showroom. Sorry for an awful bit of prose but ... here in the new showroom the lights are put under a spotlight and can be sen in a new light. Sorry that is so bad it should be edited out.
A new kitchen area in the showroom with an AJ Royal light designed by Arne Jacobsen over the work area and the classic PH Snowball designed by Poul Henningsen over the table
The new upper display area with free-standing desk and table lamps and with wall lighting or down lights beyond with historic photographs and drawings providing background information and context
The official opening of the new showroom area at Gammel Strand on the 23rd September was also an opportunity to launch the 2015/2016 edition of Louis Home.
Short articles introduce two important new lamps that have been added to the collection this year. There is a new desk lamp - the NJP Table by the Japanese designer Oki Sato from nendo Studio and an interview with Øivind Slaato and an assessment of his Patera pendant … a deceptively simple design, a large beautiful globe, with considerable visual impact and an incredibly sophisticated and complex structure based on the Fibonacci pattern. This is not clever for the sake of being clever but controls and directs the light through diverse angles.
A separate section of photographs, The World of Heidi Zilmer, shows the collaboration with the master painter and wallpaper designer in the remodelling of the Copenhagen showroom.
Examples of lights from Louis Poulsen are shown in different rooms and different spaces to show the complex inter-relationships between a light and its architectural settings but also to show the way that Danish homes mix period and style with such confidence. Louis Poulsen continues to produce classic designs that date from the 1920s but there are also classic designs that have been given new colours to give them contemporary relevance; they produce light fittings that have gone through a number of different colours through the years but have been re-introduced in the original colours and there are recent and strongly-contemporary designs.
And the permutations possible for use in the home are equally variable from modern lights in historic settings through to historic fittings in starkly modern interiors.
An apartment in Amager, the south part of Copenhagen, is featured with a Danish mix of old and new furniture and fittings, mainly in tones of grey with black, and shows how lighting plays a strong role in the room, even during the day, rather like using sculpture with pure shapes and it certainly shows the value of white light fittings to give clear points of interest in the interior.
A very modern home just outside Stavanger is profiled, that has the largest and most dramatic pendants, the Enigma and the PH Artichoke, and that contrasts with a short article on lighting in a very traditional summer house that is now a family home using the AJ series of wall and free-standing lamps as a sort of theme running through the rooms but also has the Toldbod and appears to use a Doo-Wop light suspended low beside a bed instead of a table lamp.
Another section of Louis Home has photographs of major pieces of furniture from the Danish company Fredericia to demonstrate how lighting and furniture work together to create a style or particular character in a room.
Of course, good lighting should not just be kept to the dining room or entrance hall. In Louis Home there are articles on lights in different areas of the house so, in this edition, lighting in a large green house or conservatory “… mobile illumination that you can change to suit the shifting functions of the room as the day progresses.”
Under the night sky shows how external lighting emphasises architecture to reinforce the rhythm of a pattern of fenestration or emphasise an architectural feature and shows just how important it is to vary the height of the lights and use more than one so, for instance, setting lights high to flank a front door or set low along pathways.
Finally, photographs of Coffee Lab in Copenhagen show how, in an extensive and quite complicated commercial space, lighting can be used to define areas, create atmosphere or control and influence how people use a space and that is equally applicable in a purely domestic setting.
Louis Home can be viewed on line .... louis home 2015/2016