Established in 1874 in Copenhagen, Louis Poulsen’s story began with introducing Danes to fine wines from across the world. Shortly after, when electricity was introduced, the brand commenced its transition into the luxury lighting brand we know today.
In 1892, Denmark’s second power station was opened in Copenhagen, it was to provide electricity to the capital city. At around the same time, Ludvig R. Poulsen opened a shop selling lighting and electrical supplies in Istedgade, Copenhagen. Four years later, Louis Poulsen joined the family business as a shop assistant.
1906 was a turning point, when Louis Poulsen took over the business after his uncle’s death. A couple of years later the head office was relocated to Nyhavn 11, an iconic location in central Copenhagen.
In 1914, Sophus Kaastrup-Olsen becomes a partner in Louis Poulsen, and as a result the company changes its name to Louis Poulsen & Co.
1924 was a pivotal year. The year in which the lifelong collaboration with the original master of light Poul Henningsen began. It all started when Henningsen took part in a competition, where the prize was to have his work exhibited at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs & Industriels Modernes in Paris. In 1925, Poul Henningsen won gold for his Paris lamp designed for the exhibition.
- Poul Henningsen in Politiken (a Danish newspaper)
In 1926, Louis Poulsen & Co. and Poul Henningsen won the contract for the lighting in the new Forum building in Copenhagen, with the PH Luminaire lamp.
In 1938, the well-known and very talented Vilhelm Lauritzen designs the iconic VL 38, VL 45 & VL Studio for his gesamtkunstwerk, the new headquarters of The Danish Broadcasting Corporation.
During the bleak wartime period, Poul Henningsen designed a blackout lamp for Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. The lamp allowed the gardens to remain open in the evenings, without interfering with the fighter jets in the skies above.
In 1941, the first edition of the magazine LP-NYT was also published. The magazine not only introduced new products, but also solidified Louis Poulsen’s position as an expert within the lighting industry. Poul Henningsen was editor-in-chief.
In 1958, a classic was introduced. The PH 5 lamp designed by Poul Henningsen, which is now found in many homes around the world, and known to most as the PH lamp, is based on the System PH.
1959 marked the beginning of Louis Poulsen’s collaboration with the charismatic Danish architect, Verner Panton, who had a strong sense of light, space, colour and materials, and a playful approach to lighting. The collaboration began with the design of the Topan lamp, and Panton is the genius mind behind the iconic Panthella.
“Most people spend their lives living in dreary, grey-beige conformity, mortally afraid of using colours. By experimenting with lighting, colours, textiles and furniture, and utilising the latest technologies, I try to show new ways, to encourage people to use their fantasy imagination and make their surroundings more exciting.” – Verner Panton
At the very beginning of the decade, Arne Jacobsen launched his AJ lamps in collaboration with Louis Poulsen. The lamps were designed for the SAS Royal Hotel, a ‘gesamtkunstwerk’ by Arne Jacobsen, meaning that he was not only the architect of the hotel itself, but also designed the interiors including furniture, lighting, tableware and other small details.
By this time Louis Poulsen’s business was growing, and in 1962 their first subsidiary outside of Denmark was opened in West Germany. Over the next four decades, many more followed across the world, from Europe to America, and Australia to Japan.
In 1967 Poul Henningsen passed away, leaving behind an incredible design legacy, and a philosophy of light that Louis Poulsen still adheres to today.
In 1976, Louis Poulsen commenced a collaboration with renowned Danish architect, Alfred Homann. The collaboration led to a series of outdoor and architectural lighting products. Louis Poulsen was first listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange in 1977.
During the eighties, Louis Poulsen not only expands their wholesale offering, but also begins their collaboration with Jens Møller Jensen, the brilliant architect and designer behind the Albertslund outdoor lamp that is used across the world.
The nineties were a decade for celebrations, beginning in 1994 with the celebration of Poul Henningsen’s 100th birthday, which was marked with the publication of a new book about the history of the PH lamp.
5 years later, the 125th anniversary of Louis Poulsen was celebrated with festivities around the world and an international design competition for aspiring architects.
At the beginning of the new millennium, the LP Charisma wins the Danish Design Award for ‘Product design/building and the workplace’ in 2001 and a design award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design in 2002.
Also in 2002, Louis Poulsen is awarded ‘The Golden Nail’ by the Danish National Association for Construction, as a result of the company’s extensive work with functional lighting.
A year later, in 2003, the Moser Pendant wins the French design award ‘Coup de Coeur’ at an awards ceremony in Paris.
Louis Poulsen commenced their collaboration with Danish/British designer Louise Campbell in 2005, who designed the well-known lamp, Collage. In the same year Louis Poulsen presented the installation “Northern Light” which was conceptualised in cooperation with Peter Bysted Design at Expo 2005, in Aichi, Japan.
In 2006, the Louis Poulsen relocated to 28 Gammel Strand in Copenhagen.
2010 marked the 50th Anniversary of the SAS Royal Hotel and the AJ Royal Series, which Louis Poulsen celebrated by introducing five new colours inspired by the original colours used for the Egg and the Swan chairs by Arne Jacobsen. Additionally, the AJ 50 Wall Lamp, for outdoor use was introduced.
In 2010, Louis Poulsen received the American Institute of Architects’ most prestigious award ‘The AIA Honors for Collaborative Achievement Award’.
Louis Poulsen commenced collaborations with a series of important designers during this decade, including nendo, Øivind Slaatto, Clara von Zweigbergk, GamFratesi and Carsten Fischer/Henning Larsen.
In 2016, new showrooms were opened in Lysaker, Norway and in Los Angeles, USA.
The classic PH 3½-3 pendant was redesigned with amber coloured glass shades and introduced in 2017, inspired by Poul Henningsen’s designs from the late 1920s.
2018 marked 60 years of PH Artichoke, PH Snowball and the very popular PH 5, which was introduced in new colourways to celebrate the anniversary. 2018 was also the year that Louis Poulsen’s headquarters were combined with the showroom in Copenhagen on Kuglegårdsvej.
In 2019, Louis Poulsen began their collaboration with Olafur Eliasson, who has created the sculptural pendant lamp, OE Quasi Light.
The PH Limited Edition “The Waterpump” was sold for a limited time in 2019, with the design based on one of Poul Henningsen’s original designs.
In 2020 saw the introduction of a few new versions of our iconic design classics. The PH 5 was introduced in new monochrome colourways, while PH Artichoke was introduced in Black. Also introduced was Panthella Portable, a compact, portable version of Verner Panton’s much-loved table lamp.
2020 was also the year in which Anne Boysen designed the sculptural floor lamp Moonsetter for the TV competition, the “Next Danish Design Classic”. Moonsetter became the foundation for Louis Poulsen’s collaboration with Anne Boysen.
Also in 2020, Louis Poulsen collaborated with BIG Architects to produce Keglen.
In 2021, the PH lamp The Question Mark was reintroduced as a limited edition collectors’ item, and Panthella Table 320 was introduced along with a series of new colours for the classic Verner Panton lamp.
At the beginning of 2022, the PH Whole Numbers series was reintroduced. Additionally, the VL Studio Collection was introduced, inspired by Vilhelm Lauritzen’s original lamps from Radiohuset.
The summer of 2022 marked the introduction of the PH Pale Rose collection, a beautiful twist on the design classic, with pale rose coloured glass and brushed brass elements. To celebrate the Pale Rose addition, Louis Poulsen created an impressive installation at the Taveggia café in Milan for Milan Design Week.