Verner Panton (1926-1998) is remembered for his bold, daring furniture design and aesthetic which embodied the fun and turbulent times of the 60’s and 70’s. His most famous pieces are the S chair, which became the world´s first one-piece moulded plastic chair, the cone chair and the flowerpot lamps.
Born in 1926 Panton initially began his creative career as a painter and then studied architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Art. He later worked as a graduate for iconic architect and designer Arne Jacobsen.
Panton was set to become a very conventional Danish designer but he was known as being forever stubborn and forever young, and willed towards a more spontaneous and fun vision of design which permeated his career.
As a young man Verner took off in a converted VW van which he used as an office space while travelling and studying throughout Europe.
Once he arrived home to Denmark, he set up a studio and begun his life-long legacy, translating his daring ideas into the furniture world.
“The principal purpose of my work is to challenge people to use their imagination” he exclaimed.
Verner Panton’s bold, colourful interior designs, furniture and textile designs were swirling, psychadelic, bold and bright and came to be strongly associated with the aesthetic inspiration of the 60’s and 70’s. At that time, his use of chrome and moulded plastic was rebellious and playful compared to the more conventional, natural materials of the past.
Although this type of interior design aesthetic reached it zenith in popularity in the mid-century, Panton’s designs still retain popularity today with his Vitra model still in production now.
Known for being an unconventional enfant terrible, one of Panton’s lasting innovations was the single form injection-moulded plastic chair also known as the stacking chair or S-chair. This became Panton’s most mass-produced item and resulted in a thousand inferior rip-off versions. The S-chair was inspired by the human body’s most pliant and accomodating parts – the tongue. He also experimented and toyed with the idea of the home as a disposal abode. With the Collapsible House in 1955 and the Cardboard House and Plastic House in 1960.
One of Panton’s most lingering design legacies was Visiona II which he produced in 1970 for the Cologne Furniture Fair.
Stanley Kubrik and Verner Panton
The aesthetic and vision for Verner Panton’s designs remind me strongly of the films of that era, or rather the films take inspiration from his interiors. If you have seen the work of Stanley Kubrik you will know what I mean. These are alien psychadelic landscapes filled to the brim with Panton’s textile, furniture and interior worlds and representing the strange and unchartered worlds of Kubrik’s characters. This was furniture and interior design made for the space age and for a youthful vision of the world that was radically removed from the old.