Continuing from the PH Magazine Article ‘PH and the Heart of Danish Design’ we discuss the legacy of Poul Henningsen’s furniture designs.
What could not have been completely understood at the time when Poul Henningsen (PH) was prolifically working on furniture and lighting designs during the 1920s and 1930s was the potential for PH’s creations to have longevity far in to the future. Yet it can now be seen that PH’s real achievement was to create designs in his lifetime that were considered ‘contemporary’ in the 1920s and 1930s and yet are still considered to be completely relevant, ‘modern’ and sought after almost one hundred years after their conception.
Early in his career, PH designed a number of items of lighting that could be described as a ‘commercial’ successes. In 1924 Poul Henningsen collaborated with the lighting manufacturer Louis Poulsen on the PH Lamps which one year later won a gold medal at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs & Industriels Modernes in Paris. Louis Poulsen still produces these and many other PH lamps today. The PH Lamp has truly transcended interiors ‘fashion’ through the decades since the 1930s to become a highly sought-after classic design piece.
Unlike the PH Lamp, Poul Henningsen’s Furniture designs did not achieve the same status of mass production in the 1920s and 1930s due to difficulties with manufacturing processes. For example, when PH first designed the Snake Chair and made the first few prototypes, it was made by hand. Apart from being a time-consuming process, hand-making furniture would lead to inevitable inconsistencies within the product and it would not be possible to produce enough volume to bring the products to a large number homes in Denmark in the way PH had envisioned. Today, in the 21st Century, the evolution of modern manufacturing techniques now makes it possible for PH Furniture to put into production a number of PH’s previously unrealised designs, making them widely available on the contemporary furniture market for the first time. PH’s iconic Snake Chair and Snake Stool is now produced to the highest standard in Switzerland by PH Furniture under exclusive license from the family of Poul Henningsen and is now available to buy both online and through a number of retail stores.
PH Furniture are also delighted to be able to bring to the market a number of Poul Henningsen’s other Furniture designs that were also not produced beyond a small number of early models. PH Furniture now manufacture the PH Axe Table, a design concept that came from PH’s visit to Canada in the 1950s from which he brought back axe handles and experimented with the use of them as table legs. The PH Axe Table produced by PH Furniture includes the option to have the enduringly popular PH Lamp integrated within, complete with concealed electrical cabling, in PH’s signature colours of red, green, white and yellow. Through developments in furniture production techniques Poul Henningsen’s furniture creations can now continue further to illuminate modern living in the way that the PH Lamp has done for decades.
At the centre of the PH Furniture Collection is the PH Grand Piano which is now produced in collaboration with Blüthner in Germany. As a result of this manufacturing partnership, the PH Grand Piano has been developed to be sonically one of the finest pianos in the world, while remaining true to Poul Henningsen’s original 1930s construction and visual design.
PH Furniture now produce seventeen on Poul Henningsen’s furniture pieces, all under exclusive license, with the release of more designs from PH’s archives planned. What was considered to be ‘futuristic’ in the lifetime of PH has now come of age: PH Furniture has become the touchstone of classic Danish Design.