Verner Panton: Genius of Danish Design Part 2

Verner Panton (1926-1998) was a visionary Danish designer of the 20th-century. He designed furniture and interior designs that exemplify the 1960s ‘Space Age’ look. Although much of his work appears fantastical, he was a pioneer in the use of new

Verner Panton (1926-1998) was a visionary Danish designer of the 20th-century. He designed furniture and interior designs that exemplify the 1960s ‘Space Age’ look. Although much of his work appears fantastical, he was a pioneer in the use of new materials such as plastic. He created innovative and futuristic designs in a variety of materials, and in vibrant and exotic colours.

The 1960s were known as the ‘Space Age’: the Space Race was underway, America and Russia were competing for supremacy in the cosmos; the first moon landing occurred in 1969. The enthusiasm for all things futuristic gave rise to a Space Age style based on capsule and pod-shaped furniture. The space age look can best be described ‘far out’.

Panton created multi-purpose furniture in moulded plastic. He was inspired by the sight of plastic buckets stacked on top of each other. In 1960 Panton designed the first single-form injection-moulded plastic chair. The Stacking Chair (1968) became his most famous and mass-produced design. The chair is seductively sleek and curvaceous. This was the first cantilevered chair to be made from a single piece of plastic.

The chair was unveiled in the Danish design journal Mobilia in August 1967 and caused a sensation. Equally memorable was its appearance in a 1970 issue of the British fashion magazine Nova in a shoot entitled ‘How to undress in front of your husband’.

In 1995 the Panton Chair appeared on the cover of British Vogue.

Panton began a long collaboration with Vitra, the European licensee of Herman Miller. They launched the Flying Chair, a playful piece of fantasy furniture, which was the hit of the 1964 Cologne Furniture Fair, and developed the 1967 Panton Chair, the first cantilevered chair made from a single piece of plastic.

Panton developed the first inflatable furniture – made from transparent plastic film – in 1960.

His work is pervaded by a bold use of colour. He wrote: ‘Most people spend their lives living in dreary, beige conformity, mortally afraid of using colours. The main purpose of my work is to provoke people into using their imagination and make their surroundings more exciting.’

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Roberta Baxter
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carol roach
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