In 1896, Ludvig R. Poulsen, a Danish entrepreneur with a history in wine importation and electronics, hired his nephew, Louis Poulsen, to bring fresh blood into the family business. One of Louis’s first moves was to relocate the business to a fashionable, downtown address at Nyhavn 11 and to make Sophus Kaastrup-Olsen a partner in the firm. These choices would go on the shape the newly named Louis Poulsen & Co in ways they couldn’t imagine.
Shortly after, in 1924, the company attracted the attention of Architect-Designer Poul Henningsen who wanted a company to support him in his dream of designing a lamp to take to the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs & Industriels Modernes. He designed his entry and qualified for a place, going on to earn gold medals in the exhibition.
Their success in Paris led to a contract to light the Forum Building in Copenhagen. The team designed the now-iconic PH lamp, with multiple concentric shades which eliminate visual glare. This revolutionary design would later be called upon once more when Henningsen was commissioned to design war-time lighting for the Tivoli Gardens. The Black-out lamp, as it became known, allowed the Gardens to stay open at night, casting a diffused downward light over the gardens which could not be detected from the sky.
By now, Louis Poulsen was a household name and designers flocked to the doors known for their innovation and design. When Arne Jacobsen was commissioned to design the SAS hotel, he wanted to design everything from the ashtrays to the lampshade, and there was only one place to go. Thus the AJ lamp was born. Likewise, the designer Verner Panton also wanted to design every element of a room and the globe, flowerpot and pendant were made with the help of the engineers at Louis Poulsen. Since then, designers such as Vilhelm Lauritzen, Øivind Slaatto, Nendo / Oki Sato, Shoichi Uchiyama and Louise Campbell have seen the company as the go-to name in designer lighting.
And it is this passion and dedication to design which still propels the company ever forward. In a time of disposable luxury, lighting concepts which focus on function, comfort, and ambiance have encouraged a new era of classism. To this day, Louis Poulson Lighting continues to innovate and impress. In 2004, the world-famous architect Tadao Ando chose the brand, alongside Royal Copenhagen and Bang and Olsen, to showcase the principles of Danish design at his exhibition “Styling Danish Life” at the Mori Museum in Roppongi. While this led to a surge in new interest from a range of new designers and potential customers, it’s true to say that since the Paris Exhibition, Louis Poulsen has never really been out of fashion.