The lights of Louis Weisdorf: Multi-Lite (1974)

Multi-LiteThe economic downturn of the 1970s brought new challenges for the designers of high-end lamps and other luxury goods, as producers’ support for the experiments of the 1960s gave way to a constant refrain of “No thanks”, “It’s too expensive”, or “It can’t be sold”.

Among Louis Weisdorf’s 1970s lamp designs, the Multi-Lite is one of the few to be taken into production – and if it hadn’t been for the climate of austerity and the consequent policy of restraint, it would be known today not just as a pendant light but also as a floor lamp and a wall light.Multi-Lite

The core of the Multi-Lite is a two-cylinder form that would work as a shade on its own but is additionally encompassed by a large metal ring anchoring two quarter-spherical shells. The shells can be individually rotated to create multiple arrangement combinations. In Weisdorf’s Copenhagen studio a large poster illustrates several of the numerous possible arrangements.Multi-Lite

Weisdorf made the drawings for the Multi-Lite in 1972 and Lyfa produced it from 1974. It came out in two colourways – one in white with a chrome ring, and the other in matt-finished brass with a white interior.

The Multi-Lite is an exception to the Weisdorf rule of multiply repeating elements, but reflects another of his passions – for objects that can do something, change into something else, be “multi”. Multi-LiteIt can be an uplighter one day, a downlighter the next, an asymmetrical art light the third. “It’s a bit more complex,” says Weisdorf about this light.

The Multi-Lite’s timeless expression meant it fitted well into domestic settings in each of the following decades, so that it has been in use in many homes to this day and has consistently tended to fetch high prices at auction and elsewhere.

© 2011 Sune Riishede and 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 are welcome.