Louis Poulsen - Gammel Strand in Copenhagen remodelled

 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


louis home

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

louis poulsen


Heidi Zilmer at Louis Poulsen


Louis Poulsen invited Malermester (master painter) Heidi Zilmer to provide wallpapers and art pieces for the new room settings in a major remodelling of their lighting showroom on Gammel Strand in Copenhagen.

A number of hand-painted papers are shown in the entrance area, including a new dragonfly design, floral designs, geometric patterns and designs with silhouettes of bowler hats and one design has silhouettes of classic pieces from Danish design history.

Wallpapers by Heidi Zilmer from her Nordic range, based on historic knitting patterns, have been used with Nordic Antique in a kitchen area and New Nordic for a bathroom setting. In one  setting - for the new Patera pendant from Louis Poulsen, designed by Øivind Slaatto - there is a panel of the bowler hat design in white on silver along with a Jacobsen two-seat Swan Sofa in white leather. Very elegant, very subtle and very sophisticated.

There are smaller works by Heidi, many gilded, including silhouettes of famous lamps from Louis Poulsen and several larger panels with geometric designs have been used as decoration, hung in with a large group of paintings along with a mirror, across one wall of a bedroom setting.



Nordic Antique wallpaper in the kitchen with an AJ Royal pendant above the work top and the Louis Poulsen PH Snowball over the table


New Nordic from Heidi Zilmer in the bathroom setting of the recently remodelled show room

Decorative panel above the desk and a silhouette of a classic PH pendant from Louis Poulsen by Heidi with a PH 4/3 Table in the bedroom setting in the show room

commemorative light

Today, to mark the 120th anniversary of the birth of the designer Poul Henningsen on the 9th September 1894, Louis Poulsen have launched a new light for their current collection, the PH 3½-3 pendant, based on original designs by Henningsen from the late 20s and early 30s. The proportions and profile of the triple shades can be seen in the 4/3 lamp in glass of 1928 and the slimmer upper part in copper but with metal shades with a rolled edge in the 6/5 lamp of about 1929. Looking at an illustration from a catalogue of 1936, this version appears to combine the size (a diameter of 33 cm) of the 3½/3 but with the extended and more elegant upper part of the larger 4/3 and 4/4 lamps.

Photographs of these original versions along with reproductions of Henningsen’s working drawings and the fascinating analytical drawings that show how the light is dispersed by the multiple shades of the lamps can be found in Tænd! PH Lampens Historie, edited by Tina Jørstian and Poul Erik Munk Nielsen for Louis Poulsen and published by Gyldendal in 2007.

For the new 3½-3 the metal shades are produced in green, red, yellow or white and the stem is a semi-glossy brown and made of copper.

Photographs taken from publicity material from Louis Poulsen for the launch.

lights from Louis Poulsen

Louis Poulsen, the Danish company who manufacture lighting, was founded in 1874. They produce a huge range of lights and are noted not just for the exceptional quality of their light fittings but for their technical understanding of illumination for lighting to be used both inside and outside buildings. They are well known for their collaboration with the designer Poul Henningsen who trained as an architect but never practiced and saw himself as primarily an inventor. Henningsen died in 1967 but Poulsen still produce many of his pieces.

Two light fittings that are currently being promoted by Poulsen illustrate the range and character of their products.

The PH 3½-3 was designed by Henningsen in 1929 and was one of the first designs in the PH series using three shades to control the light. Over the intervening years a number of changes and modifications were made to the design but this light returns to the original form. It is in copper as a limited edition to mark the 120th anniversary of Henningsen’s birth and will only be available to order from 1st March to the 31st May 2014. 

When you look at the working drawings for the light, you can see exactly how carefully and precisely the measurements, proportions, curves and lines were determined. The lamps in the PH series, with their multiple shades, control light in an almost magical way. I have a PH 5 over my dining table and I am still trying to analyse exactly how it works. The layers of shades create a pool of light over the table but also throw out a soft light over the space around and yet people around the table cannot see the light bulb and are not dazzled by it as they look across the table.

With a price tag of £995 in England the PH 3½-3 will almost-certainly be seen as a collectors or specialists piece for architects and design fanatics.

The Toldbod 120, in contrast, is a simple pendant light that is a relatively recent addition to the Poulsen range. The shape is deceptively simple but it has sophisticated and very carefully designed lines … the bulb holder is not straight-sided but a subtle truncated cone and the shade curves out gently without verticals. The bulb itself is housed well into the shade so, again, there is no glare. The lights are relatively small, 120mm high and 120mm diameter (hence the 120 in the name) and made in spun aluminium. They come in a number of colours including white with a pale green interior, dark grey with a deep turquoise interior, “cloudy” white with deep orange inside and apple green with a speckled orange inside. Some finishes have a matt and slightly textured surface.

The lights look great as a loosely-formed group with different colours together and flexes at different lengths or as a line with a number of fittings equally spaced with one colour - for instance along a work surface - to give a structured lighting that would fit with a minimalist interior and be a good alternative to ceiling spots.