Louis Christian Kalff

1897 — 1976

The Dutch designer and architect, Louis Christian Kalff was the art director of Philips and author of the book Creative Light.

Early 1920s. Kalff graduates from the Delft University of Technology and starts practice with architect D.F. Slothouwer. In December 1924, Kalff applies via letter to Anton Philips, president of Eindhoven-based light bulb and radio tube manufacturer Philips, asserting that the company’s advertising is not modern enough.

1925. Kalff joins Philips and is charged with the task of modernizing the company’s artistic and commercial advertising. 

1929. The Lighting Advisory Office (LIBU) is established under Kalff’s leadership to advise companies and architects in the field of lighting.

1946. Kalff is appointed Philips’ art director. He defines the overall color, material, and form choices for a variety of projects. He also designs advertisements, branding, exhibitions, lighting, and various other products. In 1958, Kalff initiates the Philips Pavilion at the Brussels World’s Fair. To demonstrate the company’s cutting-edge technology, he conceives a multimedia exhibition that features audio and video materials. It was one of the first examples of the use of multimedia in design. He designs the Astronomical Observatory (1937, Eindhoven) and the spaceship-like Evoluon technology museum (1966, Eindhoven), which became a conference center in the 1990s.

1960. Kalff retires but remains active as a consultant and architect for Philips.

2011. The Louis Kalff Instituut openes in the Regional Historical Center Eindhoven. It’s devoted to preserving and digitizing the archives of nationally important industrial designers for educational purposes.