Why every home should have a Louis Poulsen PH5 pendant light

louis poulsen ph5 pendant light
Design Icon: Louis Poulsen PH5 pendant lightHearst Owned

The House Beautiful team pick a design classic we think you'll love forever – this time, the Louis Poulsen PH5 pendant light.

Who designed it?

Poul Henningsen (1894-1967), a Danish designer and architect known for his contribution to Modernism. Unveiled in 1958, the PH5 was created using a reflective multi-shade system that cleverly allows the light to diffuse laterally as well as downwards.

Why we love it?

'Everything in a home is secondary to the importance of lighting,' said Poul Henningsen, the designer whose initials give the PH5 its name (the number 5 incidentally represents the pendant's 50cm diameter).

Henningsen was a strong believer in the power of light to create ambience in a space, reportedly inspired by his mother's desire for flattering light at a time when incandescent bulbs were hugely popular. Denouncing these as 'muffins', the designer hoped to counteract their harsh delivery of light.

The curved shades of the PH5 hide the bulb inside and reflect light in a soft way that allows it to cast a glare-free glow around a room. It remains a standout object in a space even when it's not switched on.

Described by Henningsen as a 'surrender to the light bulb manufacturers', the PH5 was created in response to the standardisation of bulbs. That surrender turned out to be a huge success and the light remains the bestselling design in the Louis Poulsen portfolio.

Why you'll love it for ever

A light as eye-catching as the PH5 will become a focal point wherever it's displayed. It works particularly well taking centre stage above a dining table, for example, or as a design-led alternative to a standard bedside lamp. Available in at least 17 colours (there’s white, black, blue and red, plus a collection of soft pastel hues), the light can work within any decorative scheme.

The pendant is now also available in a smaller size, making it an even more versatile choice for contemporary homes where space can be tight. While undoubtedly an investment, the sculptural quality of the light makes it a classic of the mid-century-modern genre – if you can, this is a 'buy once, love forever' piece of design history for your home.

What makes a design icon?

For a piece to be truly iconic to the HB editors, it needs to:

  • Have longevity and really stand the test of time.

  • Illustrate innovative design, whether from the high street or a showroom.

  • Be recognisable homeware that deserves the spotlight.

  • Serve as an object of desire – beautiful, yes, but useful, too.

  • Be a piece that is used every day by House Beautiful editors.

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