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Your Home Needs This: Louis Poulsen PH5 light

Louis Poulsen PH5 lamp - a design classic

This week I’m turning the focus of ‘Your Home Need This’ to lighting – and in particular, Louis Poulsen’s PH5 light, a mid-century-style pendant with a striking, curved silhouette. In case you forgot, Your Home Needs This is all about profiling beautiful design classics and timeless pieces of furniture that I feel everyone should have in their home. I want to bring the focus back on the designer and give you a little back story about how they were created. So here we go…

The PH5 was designed by Danish designer Poul Henningsen in 1958. He began collaborating with Louis Poulsen in 1925 and continued to work with them up until his death in 1967, creating designs that are still famous today.

Louis Poulsen PH5 lamp - a design classic

The PH5 pendant. Image: Scandinavia Design

Henningsen studied architecture at the Danish College of Technology in Copenhagen and started designing his own lighting after he found traditional lights to be incompatible with his smart modern interiors. He never actually graduated as an architect though, and became more known for his lighting as well as his work as a journalist, critic and author. He once said how he was disappointed with ‘how dismal people’s home are,’ and believed that ‘electric light gave the possibility of wallowing in light’.

The PH5 light was also a response to changes to the shape and size of incandescent bulbs that were being made by manufacturers of the time – larger bulbs were being made but the design of shades hadn’t caught up yet. He was concerned with creating glare-free illumination by baffling and concealing the light with a reflective three-shade system, which directs the majority of light downwards. The bee-hive-like shape gently glows with both the downward light and lateral light. It was named PH5 due to the 50cm diameter of the main shade of the pendant.

Louis Poulsen PH5 lamp - a design classicLouis Poulsen PH5 lamp - a design classic

Henningsen wanted to improve the colour of the light source in the PH5, so small red and blue shades were inserted into the classic pendant to create a warmer tone of light.

The PH5, a true design classic today, has been kept updated as lights have developed and evolved. Energy saving bulbs were introduced in the Nineties, while the metal plate was replaced with frosted glass and the light was painted with a purer white colour. The aluminium PH5 now comes in five colours: army/dark grey, dark grey/turquoise, pale rose/green, white/pale rose and white classic. Bronze spacers help keep the shades in place.

Louis Poulsen PH5 lamp - a design classicLouis Poulsen PH5 lamp - a design classic

With a retro feel, the PH5 makes a lovely statement over a dining table or a bold feature in a room when several are hung in a row. The PH5 gives an understated impact, a beautiful object that’s not shouting for attention. It’s proven to be a timeless design – it’s striking architectural shape is instantly recognisable, whether in a light contemporary home or a more traditional mid-century interior.

What do you think of the PH5 light, can you see it in your own home?

Louis Poulsen PH5 lamp - a design classic

All images courtesy Louis Poulsen, except where specified