Nordic design picks from Asia: the AJ floor lamp by Louis Poulsen

Scandinavian design has been on the rise in Asian countries for many years now. Design Stories set on a quest to find out why. We had the honor to chat with Asian creatives who shared with us their favorite pieces of Nordic design. In this story, we meet architectural designer Laura Phay.

Louis Poulsen AJ floor lamp
Singapore-based architectural designer Laura Phay chose Louis Poulsen’s AJ floor lamp as her Nordic design favorite. Danish architect Arne Jacobsen designed the AJ lamps originally in 1957 for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen.

LAURA PHAY is an architectural designer based in Singapore. Together with her husband, she has co-founded three local cafés and designed the interiors for all of them. Laura's pick for her favorite Nordic design piece is Louis Poulsen's AJ floor lamp, designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1957.

Hi Laura! Can you share with us how you were first introduced to Arne Jacobsen's designs?
“It was back at university in Sydney while studying Modernism. I have been a devotee since, from his lighting collaboration with Louis Poulsen to his sanitary fixtures for Vola. Jacobsen is the bedrock of Danish design and his works are relevant to this day.”

What are some personal philosophies as an architectural designer that steered you to purchase the lamp?
“I love mid-century modern, simple lines and design that can stand the test of time. The AJ lamp was designed in 1957 and yet still looks contemporary. Many floor lamps don’t stay perfectly vertical after some time due to gravitational pull. This lamp intentionally stands tilted forward at an angle, eradicating this issue.”

Louis Poulsen AJ floor lamp
The fresh and timeless appearance of the AJ floor lamp looks beautiful also in the nursery. Above the bed hangs the Symphony mobile by the Danish company Flensted.
Louis Poulsen AJ floor lamp
The iconic silhouette of the AJ lamp is a combination of a cone-shaped metal shade and a thin, tilted stem. The adjustable shade rotates both vertically and horizontally.

To what kind of setting would you advise placing the AJ floor lamp?
“The trick is not to overthink. The AJ lamp can hold its own against a mishmash of styles, from minimal and utilitarian to Shaker style. Whether it’s set in the nursery, next to a chaise lounge or bedside, it is hardly ever out of place.”

What would be the design piece that you would recommend for others to buy as their very first Nordic product?
Alvar Aalto’s pieces would make a good introductory investment. Particularly the Tea trolley 901 or the Stool 60 with a linoleum top.”

Louis Poulsen AJ floor lamp
Laura Phay fell in love with Arne Jacobsen’s designs when studying at the university. Besides the floor lamp, Louis Poulsen’s AJ lamp series includes also table lamps and wall lamps in a range of colors.

Lastly, can you describe what Nordic design means to you as an Asian designer?
“It's timeless, understated and versatile. There is value in investing in original Nordic design, because when you buy better quality, you spend less in the long run. The products have longevity in both style and use, lasting for decades to be passed on to the next generation. If you use them with care, they can develop a patina that only gets more charming with age. Being able to appreciate the designer behind the product further ensures no buyer’s remorse!”

See also:

AJ floor lamp >
All products by Arne Jacobsen >
Laura Phay on Instagram >

Text: Melissa Tsang Images: Khoo Guo Jie

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