In the Facet pendant light, designed by Louis Weisdorf in 1963 and produced by Lyfa from 1966, the particular art of Weisdorf’s lighting designs is perhaps most clearly visible. Like a 3D jigsaw puzzle, the Facet consists of 18 identical metallic elements, each a long punched and bent piece that fits into the next one, and that into the next, until a cylinder is formed. Light emerges through small gaps between the pieces, revealing the interior colours while protecting the eye from a direct light source.
How did Weisdorf think up the Facet? “I have always been interested in creating lights from a single element that could be repeated and built together in various fashions, fitting into each other, turned, stacked, hung in various ways and so on,” he says. “Since my youth I seemed to have an ability to visualise things in space, to see how forms function together in space. This was probably why I was accepted into architecture school in the first place.”
During the war the 11-year-old Weisdorf had to stay in Sweden for some years, and missed so much schooling that he was prevented from going on to high school. That didn’t stop him from finding a back door to academic studies by taking a preliminary year at engineering school (intended for craftsmen), then applying for admittance to the Royal Academy at the unusually early age of 17. Against all odds he was accepted on to the course, and during the three-month trial period the teachers spotted someone with a special gift in spatial geometry.
This talent was of course used on the Konkylie, and meant Weisdorf was able to shape the Facet’s core element and visualise how it could repeat and come together without much drawing and model-building. The ingenuity of his construction was not wasted on the creative leadership of Lyfa, which in the positive spirit of the 1960s was open to the new and unexpected – even if it made the sceptical sales manager sleepless at night. Experiments were welcome.
The Facet went into production in 1966 in the slipstream of the Konkylie and, like the Konkylie, its production was contracted out by Lyfa to the Brødrene Berg factory. Its colour schemes harmonised with the Konkylie – one version golden outside with two shades of orange inside, the other silver outside and two shades of blue inside.
Little is known about sales volumes for the Facet. Louis Weisdorf’s own recollection is that the quarterly payments he received from Lyfa were far from impressive (for this and his other lights), the percentage to the designer also being rather low.
Like the Konkylie, the Facet was rather expensive to produce, partly because it had different colouring on the outside and inside faces. Towards the end of the 1960s a growing demand for lower prices and different colours prompted a new version of the Facet – the Facet Pop, issued in 1970. The Facet Pop’s elements had the same colour on both sides, but shifted between three shades of the same colour, which gave the lamp a lively surface impression. The colour schemes were created by Tivoli artist Richard Branderup – three shades each of beige, orange, red and blue.
When Lyfa merged with Fog & Mørup later in the 1970s, most of Louis Weisdorf’s lights were phased out of production, along with many other Lyfa models. Today the Facet Pop is seen for sale more often than the original Facet, but both are increasingly hard to find. Despite their growing scarcity, however, prices for both lights currently tend to be fairly modest compared with others of similar quality and rarity.
© 2011 Sune Riishede and vintage-danish-lights.com. All rights reserved. This article is based on extensive correspondence between Louis Weisdorf and Sune Riishede and a personal meeting in November 2011 at the architect’s Copenhagen residence. The article and its contents may not be copied or reproduced in any part or form without the prior written permission of the copyright holders. Links to http://www.vintage-danish-lights.com/the-lights-of-louis-weisdorf-facet-1966-and-facet-pop-1970 are welcome.