The PH Bow Piano: Making Waves

The Poul Henningsen (PH) designed PH Bow Piano is a radical departure from the expectation of how a wooden cased piano should be presented. It was Poul Henningsen’s innate belief that when designing a piece of furniture form should always follow function and that the practical performance of his creation was of paramount importance. PH also believed that it was possible to redesign many everyday objects and pieces of furniture in such away that not only would they function better but they would also be more aesthetically pleasing. The PH Bow Piano is no exception to this philosophy. 

The PH Bow Piano eschews the ‘traditional’ piano design that simply boxes the soundboard, action and strings of the piano inside a harshly angled wooden case. PH’s design for a wooden piano case is visually softer, constructed around a lid of four organic flowing ‘waves’ of timber. The piano is supported by three wooden legs that we would now consider to be of classical ‘mid-century’ style, angled to be less obtrusive than traditional piano legs that are positioned at a right angle to the body of the instrument. 

The form of the PH Bow Piano is one of gentle curves and subtle geometry. This fluidity of design creates a sense of intimacy with the piano itself: intimidating sharp lines are broken, creating an instrument that is inviting to touch, to play, to listen to. If the curves of the lid represent the waves of the ocean, then the area around it becomes the beach, a place to appreciate the sonic ebb and flow of piano music, itself so often described as sounding like the flow of water. 

The deconstructed lines of the PH Bow Piano mirror the iconic PH Lamp, which also features four curved components to make the shade, allowing light to delicately flow through from it’s core. Poul Henningsen’s signature unique architectural design aesthetic that is fundamental to the PH Lamp is replicated within the construction of the PH Bow Piano. The PH Lamp is designed to create perfect ambient illumination free of shadows and glare, the PH Bow Piano uses this concept to allow sound waves to be evenly distributed from the piano in the same way. 

We see echoes of Poul Henningsen’s aesthetic in later much-celebrated architecture in buildings such as the Sydney Opera House, where Danish architect Jørn Utzon made the association between water, the coast and music, creating a building from geometric concrete shells in the 1950s. Later, Norman Foster would build the Armadillo Building in Scotland, which was inspired by the shape of interlocking ship hulls in the 1990s. The PH Bow Piano is in synergy with ‘deconstructivist’ architectural modernity that is so very relevant today and by designing a piano in this style in the 1920s, we see that Henningsen’s ideas were ahead of their time. 

The PH Bow Piano is sized to fit comfortably in many home environments as well as public spaces and performance venues. Presented in a combination of pale and dark veneer, the PH Bow Piano enhances many diverse interior environments whether they are traditional, mid-century or contemporary in style. The versatility of the PH Bow Piano reflects Poul Henningsen’s values that well-designed, inspiring and beautiful things should be available to everyone. For the first time in over seventy years, PH Pianos are delighted to make available for purchase the PH Bow Piano: the essence of inspiring, sensual piano design.