Discovering the Brilliance of Paul Henningsen: A Pioneer of Modern Lighting Design


Paul Henningsen is regarded as one of the pioneers of modern lighting design. He was an industrial designer, architect, and writer, and his contributions to the field of lighting have had a lasting impact on the industry.

This article will explore the life and legacy of Paul Henningsen, his approach to lighting design, and some of his most famous creations.

Early Life and Education

Paul Henningsen was born in 1899 in Denmark. His father, Poul Henningsen, was a writer and politician, and his mother, Agnes Henningsen, was a textile artist.

Henningsen studied at the Technical University of Denmark, where he initially pursued a degree in civil engineering. However, he soon switched to studying architecture, and he graduated in 1921.

Career and Approach to Lighting Design

After graduation, Henningsen worked as an architect for several years, and he began to experiment with lighting design in his spare time. In 1925, he designed his first light fixture, which he called the PH-lamp.

The PH-lamp was a radical departure from the lighting fixtures of the time. It had a unique, three-shade design that diffused the light and eliminated harsh shadows. Henningsen was inspired by the way that light reflected off snow, and he wanted to replicate that effect in his design.

Henningsen continued to refine his approach to lighting design over the years. He believed that lighting should be functional, but also aesthetically pleasing. He was a firm believer in the power of light to shape our moods, and he was constantly experimenting with new ways to create lighting that was both practical and beautiful.

Notable Creations

Throughout his career, Henningsen designed a number of iconic lighting fixtures, many of which are still in production today.

One of his most famous creations is the PH Artichoke, which he designed in 1958. The PH Artichoke is a stunning, sculptural fixture that consists of 72 leaves arranged in 12 rows around a central light source. The leaves are made of copper, and they are designed to reflect the light in a way that creates a warm, inviting glow.

Another notable creation is the PH Snowball, which Henningsen designed in 1958. The Snowball is a spherical fixture that is made up of layers of white metal discs. The discs are carefully arranged to create a diffused, soft light that is perfect for creating a cozy atmosphere.


Paul Henningsen’s approach to lighting design has had a lasting impact on the industry. His designs are still highly sought after today, and they are regarded as classics of modern design.

Henningsen’s designs demonstrated that lighting could be both functional and beautiful, and he paved the way for a new generation of lighting designers who continue to push the boundaries of what is possible.

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