TurboThe lights of Louis Weisdorf: Turbo (1967)

Louis Weisdorf created the design for his Turbo pendant light in 1965, and in 1967 Lyfa was ready to start production. Consisting of 12 uniform aluminium lamellae spiral-twisted to form a flower-like sphere, the Turbo was partly inspired by Japanese rice-paper lanterns, and came in two sizes – the 35cm diameter Turbo I (available in orange, red, beige or white) and the 60cm Turbo II (in white only).

In contrast to Konkylie the lamellae were positioned vertically, reducing the accumulation of dust but still conforming Turboto Weisdorf’s guiding principle of shielding the eye from direct bulb glare at all angles. Like other experimental lights of that decade, it was expensive – the larger version, Turbo II, coming with a price tag not much below an average worker’s monthly wage.

The Turbo attracted quite some attention, winning an iF (Die gute Industrieform) product design award in 1973, and remained in production well into the 1970s. But after the economic downturn of the late 1970s the Turbo became one of numerous casualties of the subsequent merger between Lyfa and another major Danish lighting company, Fog & Mørup.

TurboMuch later – in 1991 – a new version of the Turbo was put into production by the further-merged company Lyskjær-Lyfa, without the knowledge or approval of Louis Weisdorf. Renamed Regina and made of steel, the lamp was so heavy it had to be suspended by a wire. Weisdorf took the company to court and sales were halted.

In 2004 the Turbo was reissued again, in white versions of both original sizes – this time by Bald & Bang in agreement with the designer. The release coincided with a growing renewal of Turbointerest in Weisdorf’s lighting designs, and rekindled his passion for lamp design after 25 years during which he became one of the first Danish architects to move into the digital era and start using computer-aided design (CAD). The rediscovered lighting enthusiasm led to models of new lamp designs beginning to appear on his computer screens.

When pushed to say whether he has a favourite amongst his own lighting designs, it is the Turbo that Louis Weisdorf points to. “I prefer the Turbo because of its logical simplicity, which makes it more timeless than many of my other lights,” he explains.

© 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 photo above left shows Louis Weisdorf in his studio with a miniature paper model of the Turbo. 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-turbo-1967 are welcome.