The story of Fog & Mørup, pioneers of Danish modern lighting

Ansgar Fog and E Mørup met in 1902 at the firm of Marinus Kock in Aarhus, Denmark. They rapidly became close friends and began to develop the idea of going into business together. On 22 February 1904 they answered an advertisement in the newspaper Jyllandsposten calling for ‘an energetic man to take over a well-established ironmongery and consignment warehouse’. The warehouse contents encompassed paraffin lamps, gas lamps, gas pipes, hosepipes, pumps, glasscutters and ‘other marketable and profitable wares’. The pair borrowed the asking price of 3,000 Danish kroner and started business as agents and wholesalers on 1 July 1904 in three small rooms with cellars in Fiskergyde in Aarhus. Both Fog and Mørup were then 24 years old.

In 1906 Fog & Mørup moved to Copenhagen and began to specialise in lighting, taking over electrical dealership Dahls Brothers in 1913, and on 1 April 1915 they opened their first lighting factory at Nørregade 7. Rapid expansion of the company over the next two decades, together with the takeover of several other lighting companies, required the factory to move to larger premises more than once, and the Nørregade premises became the company's showroom.

It was in the early 1960s that Fog & Morup really emerged as a significant force in lighting design, following the company’s appointment in 1957 of Johannes (Jo) Hammerborg as head of design, which initiated what was to prove the most creative and commercially successful period in its history. Hammerborg’s sleek and innovative modernist designs (see examples above and right) became the trademark style of Fog & Morup throughout the 60s and into the 70s, and propelled the company into the forefront of Danish modern lighting.

By the early 1970s Fog & Mørup had reached its prime, with sales in 1972 in excess of 50 million Danish kroner and an export market growing at 30 per cent per annum. The company’s belief that ‘presented with a challenge, designers as individuals or in design groups will achieve their finest work’ enabled them to attract many talented architects and designers to work under Hammerborg’s exacting eye, including Sophus Frandsen, Claus Bonderup and Torsten Thorup, Jørgen Bo, E Balslev, Karen and Ebbe Clemmensen, Sidse Werner, Hans Due and Peter Avondoglio.

Perhaps the most widely recognised of Fog & Morup's lights today is the iconic Semi (above left), designed by Bonderup and Thorup in 1967 while they were still students, but the company also produced many other innovative, important and award-winning lights including Frandsen’s Fibonacci, Hammerborg’s Saturn, Tunica and (pictured top right) Classic and Diskos, Werner’s Formland, Balslev’s Radius and Hans Due’s Optima (bottom right), as well as making lights for Holmegaard, Royal Copenhagen and Kaj Franck’s Arabia (right).

Fog & Mørup maintained their predominant position throughout the 1970s, and towards the end of this decade they merged with another leading design-oriented Danish lighting producer, Lyfa. Although the companies now shared factory premises at Ballerup, the two separate brands were maintained and their lights were marketed independently of each other.

The glory days ended with Jo Hammerborg’s retirement in 1980. Though it is unclear whether the events were directly connected, Lyfa-Fog & Mørup was taken over shortly afterwards by a mass-market lighting producer, Lyskaer, and the Fog & Mørup brand with which Hammerborg was so closely connected was abandoned. Lyskaer-Lyfa continued to produce lights under the Lyfa label until 1991, when it was incorporated into Horn Belysning A/S of Aalstrup, which was itself taken over in 2005 by Nordlux of Ålborg and largely disbanded.

Click here to view the Fog & Mørup lights currently available at Classic Modern.

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