Not currently on display at the V&A

Table Lamp

1927 (designed), 1928 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This lamp is an early issue of a table lamp design which has since become to be regarded as a twentieth century classic within its particular field. The designer, Poul Henningsen, who originally trained as an architect recorded in 1927, his following thoughts on the development of this design.

"The task is to find a new lighting feature, where the emphasis is on the problem of glare. This is what is attempted with the PH-lamp, and there is much to indicate that it has been successful...The problem of lighting at present and in the near future is centred on the achievement of non-dazzling and warm illumination...From some quarters it contours have been found to be extraordinary. But the most exciting thing about the success of the PH-lamp is precisely that so many people have been able to see the beauty that lies in an object which completely fufils its purpose and does not pretend to be anyhting other than what it is."
read An introduction to Art Deco Arguably Art Deco – a term coined in the 1960s – isn't one style, but a pastiche of different styles, sources and influences. Art Deco designers borrowed from historic European movements, as well as contemporary Avant Garde art, the Russian ballets, folk art, exotic and ancient cultures, a...
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Nickel plated brass, aluminium, white opalescent glass and bakelite
Brief Description
Nickel plated brass, aluminium, glass and bakelite, Denmark, Copenhagen, 1928, made by Louis Poulsen, designed by Poul Henningsen, 1927
Physical Description
Table lamp, the base of the lamp is a circular disc. The shaft sits in the centre, the base of which is a squat column encircled by a simple convex moulding. The switch mechanism is contained within and is operated by a plain bakelite rod which passes through the middle. The flex emerges from the side of the shaft and is covered in a knitted cotton sleeve, terminating with a standard, European two pin plug. Although this type of flex is commensurate with what would have been originally supplied, its good condition suggests that it is a fairly recent replacement. The top of the base is surmounted by a simple convex moulding through which rises a narrow, cylindrical shaft which is turn surmounted by a short sleeve of slightly greater diameter. This sleeve is encircled by a simple moulding which is a circular disc with a milled edge and is surmounted by a short cylinder which provides the inner surport for the armature, supporting the shade. The rim at the base of this cylinder is a plain convex moulding with a milled edge. The socket for the bulb is a plain brass sleeve with an internal screw thread. A circular china insualtor with a flared wall sits in the top. The shade consists of three, white, opalescent glass sections supported on a cast, brass armature which sits on a cylindrical, nickel plated sleeve that fits snugly over the top of the stem. The armature consists of three branches which flare outwards with brackets to hold the middle shade and then return, looping inwards to support a circular, aluminium platform with a flared rim which supports the top shade. The shade is clamped to the support by a another circular plate, nickel plated, which is retained by a threaded, knurled knop. The lowest of the three shades on the lower rim of the armature. The shades are of milk glass with a glazed, outer surface andf a matt finish for the interior. The lowest of the three is a cylinder, the middle a flared sector and the top, a large circular plate.
Dimensions
  • Height: 24cm
  • Width: 58cm
  • Depth: 29cm
dimensions taken for 'Cold War Modern' (summer 2008)
Production typeMass produced
Marks and Inscriptions
No marks
Object history
This lamp was made by Louis Poulsen, initially for the Deutsche Lampengesellschaft MBH, Karlsrhule, Germany, from 1928.



A contemporary, modified version of this lamp is manufactured by Louis Poulsen and is availble in Britain through Elemsystems Ltd., Progress House, Whittle Parkway, Slough, Berkshire SL1 6DG.



Modernism Exhibition RF.2005/362
Historical context
This lamp is an early issue of a table lamp design which has since become to be regarded as a twentieth century classic within its particular field. The designer, Poul Henningsen, who originally trained as an architect recorded in 1927, his following thoughts on the development of this design.



"The task is to find a new lighting feature, where the emphasis is on the problem of glare. This is what is attempted with the PH-lamp, and there is much to indicate that it has been successful...The problem of lighting at present and in the near future is centred on the achievement of non-dazzling and warm illumination...From some quarters it contours have been found to be extraordinary. But the most exciting thing about the success of the PH-lamp is precisely that so many people have been able to see the beauty that lies in an object which completely fufils its purpose and does not pretend to be anyhting other than what it is."



The design is an early illustration of the functionalist aesthetic which dominated the architectural and design debate in the 1920s and 1930s. This lamp has been in continuous production with minor modifications ever since it was first introduced and remains a testament to the designer's original intentions.
Summary
This lamp is an early issue of a table lamp design which has since become to be regarded as a twentieth century classic within its particular field. The designer, Poul Henningsen, who originally trained as an architect recorded in 1927, his following thoughts on the development of this design.



"The task is to find a new lighting feature, where the emphasis is on the problem of glare. This is what is attempted with the PH-lamp, and there is much to indicate that it has been successful...The problem of lighting at present and in the near future is centred on the achievement of non-dazzling and warm illumination...From some quarters it contours have been found to be extraordinary. But the most exciting thing about the success of the PH-lamp is precisely that so many people have been able to see the beauty that lies in an object which completely fufils its purpose and does not pretend to be anyhting other than what it is."
Bibliographic Reference
Wilk, Christopher (ed.) Modernism : designing a new world 1914-1939. London: V&A Publications, 2006 Number: 1851774777 (pbk.)
Collection
Accession Number
M.26-1992

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJanuary 17, 2003
Record URL