“A specialist in versatility” perfectly sums up the long and totable career of the multi-talented Danish architect and designer Louis Weisdorf (born in 1932). Read this profile of the Danish designer and architect – a specialist in versatility.
In 1954, aged 22, Louis Weisdorf was one of the youngest ever graduates of Copenhagen Royal Academy of Fine Arts. He went to work for Poul Henningsen, the creator of the iconic PH5 pendant, and assimilated ideas that would influence his own philosophy. A couple of years after graduation, he was a couple of years into a 10-year assignment at the city’s amusement park, Tivoli Gardens. At 31, he made the drawings for Konkylie, the first of his light designs.
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Inspired by Poul Henningsen
“I was very inspired by Poul Henningsen. My lamps were mostly designed with his principle not to have the light shine directly in your eyes, but indirect. So, the light is covered,” says Weisdorf.
Weinsdorf has worked with everything from graphic, interior- and industrial design, to recreational areas as most fields within the building trade, so he was well prepared when the time came to present his own light designs.
The Konkylie (Conch) Hanging Light for Tivoli Gardens was made of 12 identical flat loops of brass assembled each on its own tier to form a hollow globe resembling a conch shell. It was shiny on the outside and yellow and orange on the inside. The lamps were hung around the park and emitted a spectacular light. A few still hang there.
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“I was drawn to designing lamps built from repeating elements, looking for a solution where you could combine the vertical suspension with uniform slats. The result was the Konkylie,” Weinsdorf explains.
After Konkylie was produced, a claim was made that Weisdorf had borrowed its design from the Moon Pendant by Verner Panton, for whom Weisdorf also had worked. Weisdorf sought judgment from his old mentor, Henningsen, who delivered a Solomonic verdict. “I do not think that either of them is a lamp,” he pronounced. “I would rather call them ladies’ hats. And as ladies’ hats, they are quite different.”
Worked closely with many designers
In the late 1960’s, Weisdorf set up his own design studio in Copenhagen and worked closely with many designers including Verner Panton, Poul Henningsen and Le Klint. Then came the Facet, consisting of 18 identical metallic elements, each a long punched and bent piece that fits into the next one, and that into the next, until a cylinder is formed. Light emerges through small gaps between the pieces, revealing the interior colors.
Weisdorf’s favorite lamp is his Turbo Pendant (1967), consisting of 12 uniform aluminum lamellae spiral-twisted to form a flower-like sphere. The Turbo was partly inspired by Japanese rice-paper lanterns.
However, Weisdorf is best known for the Multi-Lite (1972), which departs from his other designs. It maintains a dynamic quality, but rather than deriving it from a fixed design element, it features two adjustable shells that allow users to change its profile at will.
The Ekko (1968) is another of Louis Weisdorf’s designs based on repeating – or echoing – elements, though in this case the angular metallic sections take two forms, the two end pieces differing from the three central ones.
Danish designer and architect – a specialist in versatility
Weisdorf designed lamps for about 15 years in a diverse 60-plus-year architecture career that has included the design of homes, schools and two amusement parks. Today, Weisdorf lamps are collectors’ items and can be bought on auctions. And in specialty shops.
Danish Designer and Architect – A Specialist in Versatility, written by Tor Kjolberg