Limited Edition 2019 – PH 3/2 Amber Glass Floor Lamp "The Water Pump" – Designed by Poul Henningsen

Louis Poulsen are famous for their lovely lamps with classic designs. Working closely with renowned designers such as Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton and last, but not least, Poul Henningsen, they have crafted unique lamps that are more than just beautiful to behold, but also cast a lovely light.

Every autumn, Louis Poulsen pays tribute to Poul Henningsen’s genius work that focused on the shaping of light by manufacturing an extraordinary PH lamp based on one of his existing designs. Among other products, they have created limited editions of the PH 3/2 table lamp and the popular PH Artichoke. In 2019, Louis Poulsen are launching an exclusive Limited Edition of his unique PH 3/2 floor lamp - better known as “The Water Pump”. The new version has lampshades made from handblown amber glass to highlight the lampshades’ organic shapes and the lovely brass frame.

Poul Henningsen – inventor and child at heart

Curiosity and a passion for life are some of the values that were instilled in Poul Henningsen through his childhood. From an early age, he had a knack for artisanship and innovation that ended up influencing his designs. At the age of 16, he invented the self-inflating bicycle, which was awarded the Hielmstierne-Rosencroneske Scholarship for Inventors, igniting his desire to solve practical problems in a visionary way.
The first light philosophy – Thoughts behind the iconic PH lamp

The first light philosophy – Thoughts behind the iconic PH lamp

In 1907, the Danish designer, architect, author, and cultural critic Poul Henningsen saw the electrical light of day for the first time. In 1920, half of all Danish households were equipped with electrical lighting, but he thought that the electrical bulb created an impossible light – either it was too sharp or the lampshade stole most of the light. In response, he started developing a lampshade that emitted light at full capacity without blinding, and he spent most of his life taming and refining the phenomenon.
“It seems as though the strength of light that has been cheaply acquired for us in recent years has cost us the quality, beauty, and truth of our light.” – Poul Henningsen. “Just think about how much fine and precise filigree work and watchmaking could be done by the light of a single flame back in the day.”

According to Poul Henningsen, the technicians dreamt of turning night into day – a dream that he considered unartistic and wrong, as human beings need the circadian rhythm.
“On a winter’s day, when dawn and dusk practically meet at midday, you can have your light on all day – but of course, you don’t want a fluorescent lamp that reminds you of the light of noon on a summer’s day.”
Thoughts like these inspired Poul Henningsen to create a lamp that reduced the amount of uncomfortable blinding and improved the electrical light in terms of the needs of human beings.

As myth would have it, the idea of a new lampshade system came to him in 1915, when his mother, the author Agnes Henningsen, despaired to see herself in the mirror. She was incredibly vain and saw herself as ugly in the cold light of the electrical bulb. She missed the warm glow of the petroleum lamp. This gave rise to his desire to create new lamps for the home, causing him to experiment with a variety of bulbs, reflectors, and lampshades. Regardless of his motivations, Poul Henningsen was preoccupied with the idea of creating a better light.

Poul Henningsen and Louis Poulsen

Poul Henningsen spent multiple years working on the PH lamp. He tried out his first ball lamp with slats in 1921, and that same year, he drew the PH streetlight. A few years later, his new-found experience granted him admission to a modern craftsmanship exhibition in Paris. This was thanks to his lampshades, which distributed the direction and reflection of the rays of light with remarkable precision.

It was at this moment that the lamp manufacturer Louis Poulsen noticed Poul Henningsen’s design and gave him the task of creating ten different lamps for the exhibition. The lamps were exhibited under the name “Système PH” and won first prize in all six lighting fixture categories.

Since then, their partnership has led to the creation of numerous design classics. Including Poul Henningsen’s Artichoke, PH5, and last, but not least,PH Snowball. Based on his own experiences and new calculations for the reflection of light, Poul Henningsen developed a lamp with three curvilinear lampshades in 1926 – the PH lamp! The lamp was made to create the same angle between the lampshade and the rays of light. This meant that direct light did not escape but rather was reflected in the desired direction. He himself described the lamp as a plate, a bowl, and a mug with a scale of 4:2:1.

Since then, Louis Poulsen has presented hundreds of different PH lamps in the forms of chandeliers and standing, wall, ceiling, and table lamps. All built on the same simple three-shade system.

PH 3/2 Amber Glass Floor Lamp “The Water Pump” – Limited Edition

“The Water Pump” was developed during the war and belongs to the group of lamps that “survived” the material scarcity and budgets cuts that ravaged Louis Poulsen’s large selection of PH lamps during the war. Owing to the tilting arm that can be pulled up and down, the reading lamp soon became known as “The Water Pump”, a name that has stuck to this day.

The earlier version of “The Water Pump” from the early 1940s had the switch mounted on the tilting arm, while the later version mounted this on the cable. These days, the switch can be found at the end of the tilting arm, with Poul Henningsen’s initials beautifully engraved.
“The Water Pump” in amber and brass

“The Water Pump” in amber and brass

When Louis Poulsen and Poul Henningsen introduced the handblown, coloured glass for the first time in the 1920s, this was in an attempt to attract new customers. Back then, the focus was on warm and natural colours with distinct expressions and lovely craftsmanship. The glass lampshades offered an advantage in the form of letting some of the light shine through whilst also directing it upwards, downwards, or into the room. This ensured that the lamp contributed to the overall lighting and the cosy atmosphere.

We continue to see a tendency to incorporate golden colours into Scandinavian décor, especially shades of yellow – right from light to dark yellow. The amber lampshades are the perfect companions to this trend, as the colour has an incredibly inviting effect and emits a warm, calm expression. The golden light from the amber lampshades is reminiscent of candlelight – an atmospheric light that Poul Henningsen was focused on recreating in electrical form in order to fulfil our human needs.

To highlight the authenticity of the lamp and create a sophisticated expression, the base, frame, and arm are all made from untreated brass. The warm colour creates an intimate and cosy atmosphere in the room and goes hand in hand with modern décor, which continues to gravitate towards metallic shades. Over time, the untreated brass will develop a natural patina, ensuring completely uniqueness down the line.

The world-famous PH lamp is the perfect companion for the trends of our time, where decorating your home with distinct designer lamps with their own stories has become a staple. There is a lot of focus on Scandinavian design classics, and the “Danish Modern” label has risen to prominence.

A tribute to Poul Henningsen

PH 3/2 Amber Glass Floor Lamp – Limited Edition is a tribute to Poul Henningsen and his work. Poul Henningsen’s pioneering role in developing the relationship between lighting fixtures, shadows, blinding, and colour rendering, not to mention his fascination with the human needs in terms of light and darkness, continue to be at the very core of Louis Poulsen’s light philosophy.

PH Limited Edition 2019 will be available from October 1st until December 31st.