“Made in Odense since 1943!”, The Danish lighting manufacturer Le Klint can proudly claim, and looks back on more than 75 years of traditional craftsmanship. What began as a hobby for family and friends has become one of the most important design manufacturers in Denmark, producing great things by hand from paper and plastic. Le Klint works exclusively with high-quality paper and a specially made plastic film with long-lasting properties and which allow Le Klint lamps to exist as beautiful pieces of Danish design that can be handed on from generation to generation.
Short, transparent transport routes, the use of certified wood from the region and the promotion of local handicrafts have always been part of Le Klint's philosophy - sustainability is in the manufacturer's DNA and was a conscious decision from the start. The company never stands still in the development of its famous lampshades. Established architects such as Poul Christiansen and numerous talented young designers make a significant contribution to incorporating the most modern technology into traditional production processes. Le Klint always succeeds in designing the appearance of the lights to be timelessly beautiful, suitable for both modern and classic interiors: their status as official purveyor to the court of the Danish royal family being confirmation of the exacting standards. And that other royal court, Hollywood, has already knocked on the door at Le Klint: alongside Marilyn Monroe the Le Klint Model 101 shines in the film “Let's Make Love”.
A Hobby becomes Le Klint
When PV Klint, a renowned early 20th century architect, was looking for a shade for his specially created paraffin lamp, he designed it himself - Model 1 was born, a genuine original. In order to perfect the design a team of family and friends contribute to refining the shade; and as "thank you", everyone receives their own shade. The hobby turned into a business when PV's son Tage Klint founded Le Klint in 1943: the French sounding name coming courtesy of Tage's daughter Lise Le Charlotte Klint. As early as 1938, patents on the folding techniques were registered and approved. 10 years after the founding of Le Klint, Tages's son Jan takes over the business: having worked as an aviation engineer in California, Jan introduces the plastic film and manufactures the special PVC for Le Klint. In addition to paper, Le Klint still uses a filigree luminaire film made of PVC plastic, a film which does not require any damaging plasticizers, is 100% upcyclable and has a pleasant light permeability.
Renowned architects and determined young designers
The combination of the traditional folding art with new materials and shapes has always been responsible for the unique Le Klint lamp design. Poul Christiansen was the first external artist to join Le Klint in the 1960s and triggered a wave of decisive ideas. The trained architect and designer recognized that mathematical curves give the Le Klint folding art a completely new, unique direction; considerations given form in the Model 172 a work resulting from the combination of numerous sinus curves and which bequeaths any room a special harmony. And since Christiansen's first designs numerous talented designers, including, and amongst others, Rikke Frost or Takagi & Homstvedt, have enriched the Danish manufacturer's range with engaging designs, without ever falsifying the Le Klint DNA.
Tradition and modernity
The Le Klint store in Copenhagen opened in 1943 and is still the same today, except that the current store manager is no longer called Lise Charlotte, but Luise and the floral wallpaper has given way to a carefully designed modern wall design and light accents. The unadulterated art of folding is preserved internally and continuously passed on to the next generation of craftsfolk. That Le Klint originals with their breath of Midcentury modernism still meet contemporary living standards is no chance occurance: the materials and colours of Le Klint lamps are discreetly chosen and their stringent to organic shapes illuminate a room harmoniously, elegantly and stylishly at all times.
Le Klint in Hollywood
For the film “Let's Make Love” with world star Marilyn Monroe, Hollywood knocked on the Le Klint doors in 1960 and ordered the iconic “Frugtlygten”, Model 101. Designed by Kaare Klint in 1944, the fruit lamp, also known as the “lantern”, performs alongside the Hollywood legend with bravado and elegance. No wonder - Kaare Klint, Tage's brother, was a passionate architect, a professor at the Furniture School, which was founded in 1924 at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen, and is considered the grandfather of Danish design. Numerous young talents, such as Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton and Hans J. Wegner were among his students before becoming internationally renowned designers themselves.
In 1972, Le Klint became a foundation. What sounds like a retrograde action is in fact a future-oriented step that reflects responsible action with regard to its employees, its corporate culture and the preservation of the Le Klint heritage: not least because it is linked to the statute that Le Klint cannot be sold and a close exchange must take place with the permanent board of the foundation. In addition, with this step, Le Klint committed itself to awarding scholarships to young architects and designers every year and thus to promote the next generation.