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Modern Design Classics, no 2.               Poul Henningsen:  PH Artichoke Pendant Light (1958)

The PH Artichoke pendant light was designed by Danish architect Poul Henningsen in 1958, originally for the Langelinie Pavillon restaurant in Copenhagen, where the copper fittings are still hanging today. The Artichoke pendants have a distinctive sculptural shape, reminiscent of the attractive vegetable after which they are named. But beyond that, the clever design of overlapping leaves shields the light source, so the light emitted lends a subtle and ethereal quality to a room. The PH Artichoke was immediately recognised as an exciting new contribution to contemporary design, and has since become a modern design classic.

Poul Henningsen was an architect and author, but his most valuable contribution was to the field of lighting. He was obsessed by light and its importance to our well being and spent his life exploring ways of harnessing its properties in a striking and attractive way. In 1925 he designed the PH lamp which, like his later designs,  carefully reflected and baffled the light rays from the bulb to achieve glare-free and uniform illumination.  He designed several other notable pieces for Danish lighting company Louis Polsen, most still manufactured today. 

The artichoke is arguably one of the most iconic and internationally recognised pendant lights available today. The 72 precisely positioned leaves form 12 unique rows and give the light 100% anti-glare when viewed from any angle. They illuminate the fixture as well as emitting diffused light with a unique pattern. The resulting effect is remarkable, highly decorative yet effective and comfortable lighting. 

It's available in two sizes and three finishes, copper, stainless steel or white painted. 

Although it was designed for a commercial setting, it works equally well in a residential design scheme. In a period home the light's perfect proportions makes a confident statement and beautifully illuminates decorative cornicing and similar features. The Artichoke works surprisingly well in a rustic environment, the sculptural shape contrasting with basic and even crude materials. With contemporary or mid-century furniture it's a natural bedfellow, though it is always striking and slightly surprising. A true modern design classic and a great addition to any room. 

Artichoke 1

The Artichoke light works well with basic, even crude materials like the concrete walls here

Artichoke 2

Perfectly matched with mid century Danish furniture and modern art

Artichoke 3

Confident and elegant, the Artichoke light beautifully illuminates this period dining room

Artichoke 4

A striking feature in a contemporary monochrome scheme

Artichoke 7

Available in 3 finishes - white painted, stainless steel and copper

Artichoke 8

The leaves are cleverly positioned so the light source is hidden from every angle

Artichoke 10

Bringing drama to an all white kitchen

Artichoke 11

The large Artichoke makes a statement in a contemporary bedroom

Artichoke 13

The Artichoke lights compliment the grandeur of these high ceilings and pillars

Artichoke 15

The copper finish brings interest and warmth to this all white room

 

Tagged: All Articles / Design Inspiration / Interior Design Projects

Modern Design Classics, no 1.         Eileen Gray: Bibendum Chair (1926)

In 1926, Eileen Gray created the curvaceous and inviting Bibendum chair. The figure hugging chair was aptly named after a voluptuous male figure, the legendary Bibendum man: an advertising character created in the late 19th century for the Michelin tyre Company.

The chair was relatively large; its depth approximately 84cm and its height 74cm. The visible frame was made of a polished, chromium-plated, stainless steel tube. The seat frame was made of beechwood, with rubber webbing inter-woven across the base of the seat to provide added comfort. The seat, back and arm rests were encased in soft, pale leather. The chair was originally created as part of an overall interior design scheme for a Paris apartment, and embraced the new Modern design aesthetic.

Irish born, Eileen Gray had a privileged background which enabled her to travel frequently and she attended prestigious private art schools in London and Paris. Shortly after the First World War Gray settled in Paris, where she was invited to re-design an apartment for Madame Mathieu Lévy, a successful boutique owner.

Gray's aim was that the apartment would not look too cluttered and that the eye would be drawn, first of all, to the tribal art on display. Gray designed most of its furniture, including her famous Bibendum chair, and made a point of using plain furnishing coverings. The process took four years and the result was favourably reviewed by several art critics who saw it as innovative and original.

Only a few pieces of furniture designed by women have achieved the status of Eileen Gray’s Bibendum Chair. However it was not until the 1970s that Gray signed a contract with Aram Designs, London, to authentically reproduce the Bibendum chair, which is still in production in leather and wool finishes. Today, Gray’s work is more admired and valued than ever.

Michelin Chair 1

The Bibendum chair sits beautifully with ethnic and retro schemes

Michelin Chair 2

The Bibendum chair works exceptionally well with modern art

Michelin Chair 3

The Bibendum chair is available in assorted colours, wool and leather

Michelin Chair 4

As a stand-alone piece it is stunning.

Michelin Chair 5

The Bibendum chair works equally well in a classic or contemporary setting

Michelin Chair 6

The Bibendum chair takes centre stage in an eclectic scheme

Michelin Chair 7

The Bibendum chair in soft brown leather against a floral backdrop

Michelin Chair 8

The Bibendum chair as originally conceived for a Paris apartment

Michelin Chair 9

The Bibendum chair was so Modern for it's time

Michelin Chair 10

The Bibendum chair is generously proportioned and comfortable

Michelin Man

The Bibendum character that provided the inspiration

Michelin Man Glass

The Bibendum character in the stained glass window of London's famed Michelin building

Michelin Creator

Eileen Gray (1878 - 1976)