Louis Kalff


Rumor has it that, shortly after graduating as an architect, Louis Kalff (1897-1976) sent Philips a letter with the cheeky announcement that their company urgently needed to be modernised. He was hired for the advertising department and would soon prove himself of irreplaceable value. Still today, the famous Philips icon is based on an original design by Louis Kalff. His artistic vision and progressive attitude towards technology granted the firm its everlasting international reputation.

Despite his traditional studies, defined by the work of notable Dutch architect Berlage, Louis Kalff grew to be one of the most vanguard designers of his time. He specialised in the integration of artificial lighting for architectural settings. Under his supervision, spectacular light shows were designed for international fairs in Antwerp, Barcelona, Brussel and Paris.

Louis Kalff’s knack for momentum and restrained extravagance translated into numerous, exciting designs. The Philips table lamps, for instance, still have something distinctly modern about them. The shades are often reminiscent of a spaceship, seemingly floating in mid-air, similar to his architectural work like the Evoluon building from 1966. Indeed, it is for good reason that Eindhoven, were Philips still has its headquarters, is known as the Dutch ‘city of light’.

Reference material: Dam, Peter van. Ir. Louis C. Kalff, het artistieke geweten van Philips (1897-1976). Eindhoven: [Z]OO producties, 2006.
Images: © www.louiskalffinstituut.nl + © www.evoluon.com
Text: © KADER design