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Architecture + Home Décor

Poul Henningsen and Verner Panton are Among the Famed Designers Who Have Made Classic Danish Lighting Classic

By Helen Russell

An old Danish saying goes that it’s “better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” During the long months of short days, this is a mantra Danes live by. In fact, the people of Denmark consume more candles per household than any other country in Europe. Good lighting, after all, is at the core of the quintessentially Danish Hygge.

Visitors to Denmark are often struck by that warm, soft glow framed in the windows of houses. How, they wonder, could this be duplicated at home. In most of the world, lamps tend to be in the middle of a room. Danes, however, use illumination artfully and to great effect—to produce dramatic pools of light, for instance, or define areas of cosiness. With a few strategically placed floor lamps, table lamps and candles, they can transform a simple room into a hygge haven. But the question remains: Which light sources exactly are the ones to look for? Here, our top five illuminators for creating a Scandi-inspired home:

1. Poul Henningsen PH5 lamp

This futuristic-looking hanging lamp was created in the 1950s to cast the perfect light for dining. Henningsen wanted a light that allowed people to see their food clearly but gave a soft enough effect to flatter diners. The multilayered result was a turning point in lighting design, and Henningsen’s PH5 is now so popular that half of all households in Denmark have one. Available through Design Within Reach and the Danish Design Store.


2. Mogens Lassen Kubus candle holder

Designed in 1962 by the Danish architect Mogens Lassen, this geometric design was inspired by the Bauhaus School. Opt for the four-candle version, which has the highest Danish design icon status, or mix it up with smaller versions in black, white or copper-clad lacquered steel. Available at the Design Shop Denmark online, through Lassen, and from Design Within Reach.


3. AJ table lamp

Arne Jacobsen’s sleek, conical lamp from the 1950s is made from spun steel and is a must-have for the chic home office or bedside table. The asymmetrical shade is designed to keep you from looking directly into the light source—you get a clear view of your book without being blinded. Functional andfashionable, the AJ is available from the Danish Design Store and Design Within Reach.


4. Verner Panton Flowerpot lamp

This bright plastic pendant light is made from two semicircular spheres facing each other to create a space-age look. The lower sphere hides the bulb to reduce glare and top half’s colored interior makes the light warm and cheery. Verner Panton was one of Denmark’s most influential 20th-century designers and created the Flowerpot in 1969 in homage to the flower power movement. Available at the Danish Design Store and Great Dane Furniture.


5. Normann Copenhagen Flag candle holder

This minimalist zinc creation is a modern retelling of the traditional candlestick and can be seen on many a Danish windowsill come winter. The Flag's design also reflects the country’s seafaring history with a handle that brings to mind the signal flags on floating buoys. Available in bronze, silver, gold, yellow and red through Normann Copenhagen or Connox.


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