Danish Lights — 1920 to Now: 100 Stories about Danish Lamp Design
A richly illustrated presentation of Danish lamp design and the iconic designers who created them
Lamp design is a field that continues to attract great attention, from both designers and design aficionados. Many books have come out on iconic Danish design, but this is the first to focus exclusively on Danish lamps.
With Poul Henningsen’s iconic PH-lamp as its point of departure, the book tells the stories behind 100 Danish lamp designs through text and images. The book introduces the reader to the inventions that enabled the first revolutionizing light sources: from the development of oil and gas lamps to the culmination in the late 19th century with the advent of incandescent light bulbs and Scandinavian functionalism.
While architects and lamp designers enjoy the new possibilities afforded by the increasingly versatile LED light sources, the current retro wave has led to renewed interest in early electrical lamps. Vintage lamps fetch high prices, older models are relaunched and a large audience is interested in the history of the lamps.
Lighting is a key element in ‘hygge’ – a warm, cosy ambience – and although Henningsen was a functionalist to the core, he had no intention of doing away with hygge. Hygge is a hot topic today, both in Denmark and abroad. Danish lamp design is not only about form. Although hard-core functionalists called for form to follow function, and function alone, real-life factors required them to compromise, and this compromise came to define Danish lamp design: hygge is a crucial quality that has to be included in the design. Thus, the purpose of the modern Danish lamp was – and is – not only to provide light but also to act as a decorative element and to spread a cosy ambience in Danish homes
Malene Lytken has an MA in Art and Design History, and a Ph.D. in Lighting Design from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation (KADK). She teaches in design at both KADK and People’s University of Copenhagen. Lars Dybdahl is former Head of Library and Research at Design Museum Denmark. He is the author of various books on Danish design, including the recently published The Danish Furniture Boom 1945–75, 101 Danish Design Icons and Dansk Design Nu.