Monday, October 8, 2018

60 Years of The Artichoke Pendant

This year marks the 60th anniversary of one of Mid-Century Modern's most enduring products, the iconic Artichoke Light. But to celebrate it, we need to back up seventy years to before the light was made.

On the Langelinie waterfront in Copenhagen, Denmark, a grand pavilion designed by Vilhelm Dahlerup was erected and housed a restaurant and café as well as the facilities for the Royal Danish Yacht Club. But after a few years, it became evident that a new, larger building was required and the original was demolished to make way for a new structure designed by Fritz Koch. It had a domed, central banqueting hall that now had room for 300 guests. But unfortunately, the Germans occupying Denmark blew it up in 1944 in retaliation for the Dutch Resistance movement. After the war, Copenhagen Municipality launched a competition for architects to submit plans for a new Langleinie Pavilion. Niels and Eva Koppel won for their sleek, modernist take on the new Langelinie Pavilion... a grouping of three squares with the central volume featuring a glass curtain wall. Construction began in 1956...

...and here is where our story really starts. The Koppels commissioned architect and designer Poul Henningsen to create a light fixture for the new pavilion that would provide good light coverage but that would look like a piece of sculpture when not illuminated. Henningsen had created a light in 1925 that featured concentric metal circles that directed light downward onto a dining table or desk, and he took this idea and riffed on it, adding many more baffles to direct light. Based on the organic, Golden Mean Fibonacci sequence, Henningsen created the PH Artichoke Pendant (sometimes called the Pine Cone Light) for the 1958 inauguration of the pavilion where the fixtures remain to this day.

This classic can be seen around the world in residential and commercial settings. It retains its sculptural sense even when lit.

The Artichoke Pendant is still manufactured by Louis Poulsen as it has been since 1958:
"The fixture has 72 leaves, positioned so as to provide totally glare-free light from any angle. To ensure a high level of quality, much of the production process is still carried out by hand. The renowned light fixture has kept its original copper finish, which to this date illuminates spaces with its warm and ambient lighting. With the brushed and polished steel as well as white painted metal models, further members have been added to the PH Artichoke family, highlighting its versatility and timeless sillouhette. In 2018, Louis Poulsen celebrates the design's 60th anniversary with a beautiful new brushed brass edition. This special edition, available exclusively through 2018, will be engraved with PH's signature - PH Artichoke - 1958-2018 - Anniversary Edition, and a unique number. From 2019, the PH Artichoke will be delivered without the anniversary engraving."

If you'd like to own this historic light fixture, contact me--I'd love to design a space for it.
Happy designing!

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