He also expanded his field of occupation into areas of writing, becoming a journalist and an author. For a short period at the beginning of WWII, he was the head architect of the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. But like many other creative people, he was forced to flee Denmark during the German occupation but soon became a vital part of the Danish colony of artists living in Sweden.
His lifelong collaboration with Louis Poulsen began in 1925 and lasted until his death. To this day, Louis Poulsen still benefits from his genius. Poul Henningsen was also the first editor of the company magazine “NYT”. The CEO of Louis Poulsen at the time, Sophus Kaastrup-Olsen, gave the magazine to PH as a gift because he had been terminated from the Danish newspaper he worked for (his opinions were too radical).
Poul Henningsen's pioneering work concerning the relations between light structures, shadows, glare, and color reproduction—compared to man’s need for light remains the fondation of the lighting theories still practiced by Louis Poulsen.
Poul Henningsen was not primarily driven by the wish of designing aesthetic lamps, but instead to create the optimal light. He drew the models for his first PH lamps in collaboration with Louis Poulsen in 1924, where he developed the famous three-shade system. Poul Henningsen wanted to create a lampshade that emitted a functional, pleasant, and glare-free light.
He based the three-shade system on a logarithmic spiral to make the optimal use of the light source. The form of the shades was determined by the way he wanted them to shape and reflect the light. From meticulous calculations and an abundance of tests, he created a system that directed a glare free-light to where it was needed the most. The way he functionally utilized the shades was nothing less than revolutionary.
The first shades were made of metal with a painted undersurface. Later on the shades were also made of glass that besides the emission of a downward light also illuminated the room. Poul Henningsen was the first person to pursue a scientific approach to light.
The first PH lamp was launched in 1927 as an alternative to low-pitched hanging lamps. In 1928 Poul Henningsen developed the table lamp PH 3½-2½ Table with a top metal shade and two bottom shades in white opal glass. The work culminated in 1958 with the world-famous pendant PH 5 that immediately became an overwhelming success.
Two other classic designs by Poul Henningsen worth mentioning is PH Hat and PH 80. PH Hat is a wall lamp designed in 1961 with the aim to create a lamp specifically for bedroom lighting.
Poul Henningsen’s lifelong collaboration with Louis Poulsen that began in 1924 lasted until his death. To this day Louis Poulsen still benefits from his genius and his pioneering work remains the foundation of the lighting theories we practice.