Dallas Architecture Forum

Louis Poulsen Lighting, Inc. | Notes of Interest

The story of Louis Poulsen Lighting, Inc. is one of a design firm and lighting manufacturer that has succeeded uniquely through collaborating with architects for almost 100 years. Founded in 1874 in Copenhagen as an electrical company, Louis Poulsen evolved into a firm that creates and produces many of the most beautiful and functional lighting fixtures ever designed.

In the 1920's Louis Poulsen began a collaboration with the Danish architect Poul Henningsen, who developed a completely new lighting philosophy: the functional aspect of any fixture, the quality of the light itself, had to be resolved before addressing the beauty of the lamp's form. But the aesthetics of form were also important, and the most perfectly functional designs were often also the most beautiful. Today, Louis Poulsen Lighting is still the exclusive purveyor of Henningsen's most iconic designs, including the PH Artichoke pendant originally designed in 1958.

With Henningsen, Poulsen initiated the tradition of working with architects. In 1941, the firm founded the architectural and lighting design journal, NYT ("New" in Danish). Poul Henningsen was the first editor of NYT, which became a widely read and respected design magazine among architects worldwide. The publication has made a significant contribution to the fields of architecture and lighting design, as well as to the communication between architects and the lighting industry, worldwide. Louis Poulsen's next great collaboration was with Arne Jacobsen, known as the father of "Danish Modern Design," creating products that went on to become design icons of modernism.

The firm continued this kind of achievement with a wide range of individuals, and continues to partner closely with the architects who work with them. Many architects throughout the world have relied on Louis Poulsen for creativity, technical expertise, durability and sustainable design. They have actively engaged the participation of prominent architects in their work, as well as in the education of architects.

Louis Poulsen Lighting has made significant contributions in several areas: in the theory and practice of architectural lighting, in working directly with architects as the designers of lighting equipment, in the production of custom lighting fixtures for architects, and in the education of both the profession and the public about the importance of excellence in lighting and design. Continuing with this thought, Carol Bentel, FAIA says of the firm in her nomination, "They seriously cultivate a 'design dialogue' that travels in two directions. This is unique and supports our needs as architects striving for excellence in our field. They serve as a singular model for other product manufacturers to follow in their willingness to educate, to assist, and to collaborate at the highest level."

Louis Poulsen Lighting has won numerous design awards, including the prestigious GOOD DESIGN Award from the Chicago Atheneum Museum of Architecture and Design, and was one of the first of its kind in Europe to receive an environmental certification. Their collaborative nature is further reflected in a comment by Richard Peters, FAIA, in his letter of recommendation, "Poulsen has contributed immeasurably to our understanding, and to our ability to use light as an essential and splendid component of architecture."


  • Photo Credit: © Louis Poulsen Lighting, Inc.

Louis Poulsen Lighting, Inc.

Jury Comments

Poulsen is an icon of excellence in design.

The products of Louis Poulsen Lighting, Inc. not only provide illumination, but serve to inspire great design in the architects who use them.

2011 Institute Honors for Collaborative and Professional Achievement Award Jury

  • Chris Morrison, AIA, (Chair)
  • Cunningham | Quill Architects
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Edward Feiner, FAIA
  • Perkins & Will
  • Arlington, Va.
  • David Frommer, AIA
  • UNLV Planning and Construction
  • Las Vegas
  • Diane Georgopulos, FAIA
  • Mass Housing Finance Agency
  • Cambridge, Mass.
  • Clyde Porter, FAIA
  • Dallas County Community College District
  • Mesquite, Tex.

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