Verner Panton (1926 – 1998) was one of the most influential Danish modern designers of the 20th century. Over the course of his career, Panton successfully introduced ground breaking interior designs, including furniture, lighting, floor covering, wall covering, and textiles using a variety of materials and vibrant colors.
Just like many others designers of the era, he was trained as an architect. Panton studied architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. After graduating the academy, he started his apprenticeship for Arne Jacobsen in early 1950’s, assisting Jacobsen’s various projects including the iconic “Ant” chair. In 1955, Panton opened his own practice in Copenhagen. In following years, he introduced innovative architectural ideas, such as the prefab collapsible house (1955), the “Cardboard House” (1957), and the “Plastic House” (1960).
Panton’s innovative chair designs were probably his most significant contribution to mid century design. In 1958, Panton introduced “Cone” chair and later, “Heart” chair, on a slight variation. Both chairs were made of upholstered conical sheet metal, with a tip pointing down, placed on a cross shaped metal base. In 1960, the “Stacking” or “S” chair (or simply known as “Panton chair”) was introduced. The Panton chair was the first example of single-piece injection molded plastic, but its production was delayed because of the technological challenges. In 1967, the Panton chair was finally put into production by Vitra, the European licensee of Herman Miller, Inc. The success of the Panton chair brought him international recognition.
With his success in chair designs, Panton made his name as a visionary designer. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s Panton began experimenting in designing entire living spaces by fusing different elements such as flooring, walls, lighting, furniture, and soft furnishings with vivid colors and geometric shapes. Panton’s unique designs are easily recognizable. Many of his designs are still in production today by the companies like Vitra and Fritz Hansen.
Photo: Verner Panton Lamps by Hollaender