2012, Oil on Linen, 100 x 100cm
Designed in 1958, Poul Henningsen’s Snowball Lamp was exhibited at the Danish Museum of Decorative Art and then pretty much forgotten about.
Stylish, effortlessly elegant, it was re-launched in 1983 to acclaim and success and is now considered to be a masterpiece of mid century modern Scandinavian design. Ironically, Henningsen’s goal was actually to recreate a quality of light from the oil lanterns of his childhood, growing up in a small town without electricity.
Prior to consciousness and outside of skill, there have been various interpretations of inspiration from the Ancient Greek’s “divine frenzy,” the Christian notion of it being a gift of the Holy Spirit, to the modern psychological idea it is located in the inner psyche, a product of the subconscious mind. Combining all the theories, whether empiricist or mystical, is the view that by its nature, inspiration is beyond control.
A half-century old design, based on an even older aesthetic, discarded and then discovered as a “modern” icon, could easily be considered a product of chance. Perhaps there was a divine light, illuminating a path through time and circumstance, that saw it through. Inspiration. Chance.