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The company Louis Poulsen actually started out as a wine importing business, founded in 1874, by Ludwig R. Poulsen. Unfortunately the business closes four year later, in 1878. But Ludwig Poulsen did not give up, and saw his opportunity to embark on a new venture, when the first power station in Denmark opened, in 1891, in Odense. The following year, as the second power station opened in Copenhagen, he opened the doors to his second business, this time selling tools and electrical supplies.
In 1896, Ludwig hired his nephew Louis Poulsen, who took over the business upon his uncle’s death, ten years later. In 1908, Louis Poulsen moved the company to Nyhavn 11, in Copenhagen, which to this day houses the company’s head office. In 1911, Sophus Kaastrup-Olsen becomes a partner, and the company name is changed to Louis Poulsen & Co. Three years later, in 1914, the company published its first catalog, featuring machinery and tools. Sophus Kaastrup-Olsen bought out Louis Poulsen to become the sole owner in 1917. The company is very successful the following years, especially in amassing an impressive profit.
In 1924, Louis Poulsen & Co. initiated collaboration with Danish designer Poul Henningsen, for the purpose of taking part in the international competition for contemporary luminaries, at the World Exhibition in Paris, in 1925.
Poul Henningsen received gold medals for all his lamp types. Poul Henningsen’s now-legendary PH lighting with three shades, turned out to be the biggest success in the company’s history, and is today a true classic design icon – still in production with almost 100 years after its conception.
The following year, 1926, Louis Poulsen & Co began marketing light fittings, and the first lighting catalog is published with the description in Danish, German, English and French. The company kept growing, and in 1941, it became a full pledged lighting manufacturer, when it acquired Laurits Hansen metal goods factory. The same year, the first issue of LP-NYT (the company’s own magazine) is published, featuring Poul Henningsen as the editor. The collaboration between Louis Poulsen & Co. and Poul Henningsen continued with huge success and in 1958, the mots iconic and famous PH 5 was launched. Poul Henningsens designed lighting for Louis Poulsen & Co. throughout his lifetime.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Louis Poulsen was purchased by a Capital Fund, and was restructured into different division, for selling off in parts. Lamps and lighting products were organized into a new company – Louis Poulsen Lighting A/S.
In 2007, Louis Poulsen Lighting A/S was sold off to Italian Targetti Sankey, but the products are still marketed under Louis Poulsen brand. Louis Poulsen is the great survivor among Danish lighting companies, and a household name worldwide today.
The tradition of working with the cream of Danish designers, has been the cornerstone of the Louis Poulsen brand over the years. It is also continued today, together with the occasional relaunch of limited edition, classic designs.
Louis Poulsen has collaborated with many designers and architects through the years, among these we find Poul Henningsen, Vilhelm Lauritzen, Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton, Hans J. Wegner and Louise Campbell.