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The family connection between two of the great Danish lighting designers is widely known – indeed, anyone who is aware of Simon Henningsen‘s work will almost certainly know that he was the the son of Poul Henningsen. But less well known is the fact that Verner Panton was also a part of the extended Henningsen family.
Our story begins with the marriage of one Inger Andersen to dentist Otto Victor Kemp and the subsequent birth on 30 December 1928 of their daughter, Tove Kemp, on the Danish island of Fyn. Tove was born in Gentofte – a small town that was also the birthplace in 1926 of Verner Panton. Tove’s mother Inger later married Poul Henningsen, who thus became Tove’s stepfather. Tove grew up to be a music teacher, and in 1950 she married Verner Panton – making him PH’s son-in-law.
Verner and Tove were divorced just three years later in 1953, but the warm relationship that existed between Panton and the Henningsen family endured. Panton was close to PH’s son Simon – Tove Kemp’s stepbrother, born in 1923 to PH’s first wife Elsa Strøjberg – and to Simon’s wife Bente, who worked for some time as Panton’s secretary. And as two of the most important lamp designers in Louis Poulsen’s history, Panton and PH had a strong professional connection and shared interest to add to their friendship and family ties. Both designed lights that are still in production at Poulsen today.