‘It doesn’t cost money to light a room correctly,
but it does require culture’
Henningsen’s impatience with the contemporary
cultural environment in Denmark was frankly
expressed in his 1933 book, Hva Mae Kulturen? ( What
about the Culture?) He was particularly severe on
the Social Democrats, whom he viewed as lazy and
apathetic, and he ended with a warning against what
he regarded as the hidden fascism lurking below the
surface of Danish life and politics.
During the Second World War, Denmark was
occupied by Nazi Germany, a testing time for an antifascist nonconformist like Henningsen. He had to
tone down his criticism of the Nazis, who had him
under constant surveillance, and his writings were
subject to censorship.
In 1943 he fled to Sweden in a rowing boat where he
wrote disguised resistance poetry. After the war he
advocated humane treatment of German war refugees.
When he died in 1967 he arranged for his body to be
donated for medical research.
But it is the lamp designs he never stopped producing
that have ensured Henningsen’s place in the cultural
hall of fame.
From the Paris Lamp in 1925 to the PH Artichoke
and PH 5 pendant of 1958, these beautiful, elegant
luminaires have joined the select company of
design icons. In his lifetime, he designed more than
100 lamps, many of which are still in production by
For a lighting architect, there can be no more
gratifying a legacy than to see his creations embraced
by successive generations.
Henningsen yearned for the
lighting of his childhood,
recreated using modern
technology, and dedicated his
life to reaching for perfection