Born in Ordrup, Poul Henningsen trained as an architect at the Danish College of Technology in Copenhagen. On graduating he worked in Copenhagen as an independent architect.
Finding the style of traditional lighting designs to be insufficient for his interiors he began designing his own solutions. He was depressed by "how dismal people's homes are," and realised that "electric light gave the possibility of wallowing in light." Poul Henningsen was evangelistic towards the development of modern lighting.