The seven-shade glass crown, also known as the Septima, was developed in 1927-31 and was first time exhibited at Kunstindustrimuseet (now Designmuseum Danmark) in September 1928 in a prototype version. Here it received several positive reviews in the press, although PH did not see the lamp as finished yet.
Poul Henningsen's drawing of the seven-shade crown, 1928.
The final lamp was completed in 1929-31, but its cultural and commercial potential was never realised as it was both complicated and expensive to produce - and therefore costly to acquire. At the outbreak of World War II, the manufacturer, Louis Poulsen, ceased the production due to lack of materials and Poul Henningsen later had to flee to Sweden due to his radical views on the Nazis. He fled to Sweden in 1943 with his wife, the architect Arne Jacobsen, and his wife.
The first version of the Septima was based on the PH 5/5 lamp screen set, but with four extra screens added in the Septima. The screens are in clear and frosted glass respectively, so they appear with alternating clear and frosted fields. The matt fields of the early Septima lamps were produced by sandblasting and later by a photochemical process called heliography. The screens are positioned so an overlying frosted field covers the underlying clear field.
A precursor to the Artichoke
During the development of the Septima pendant in the late 1920s, Poul Henningsen designed a metal version of the lamp, which was never produced. Why is not known. Nevertheless, the drawings became useful in 1958, when the architect couple Eva & Nils Koppel approached Poul Henningsen to design a pendant for their new project; the Langelinie Pavilion in Copenhagen. The result was the today renowned Artichoke lamp.
Photograph from the Langelinie Pavilion, designed by the architects Eva and Nils Koppel after they won an architectural competition in 1954. Built in the modern, functionalist style that characterises the Koppel couple.
One might sense that the Septima lamp is a precursor to the iconic Artichoke. Henningsen is said to have designed the Artichoke in just 3 months, taking as his starting point the 1920s drawings of the Septima.
On the Artichoke lamp, every other field has been removed from the screens of the Septima, allowing the light to reflect and be transmitted through the openings. An additional 5 rows of screens have been added to provide glare-free light from any angle.
One of the original Artichoke pendants from the Langelinie Pavilion, which KLASSIK sold in 2020 to a customer in Shanghai. See it here.
If you want to read more about Poul Henningsen's work, we recommend the book 'Light Years Ahead: The story of the PH lamp' by author Tina Jørstian & Poul Erik Munk Nielsen. Enjoy!