A departure from traditional living
With his unconventional designs, Verner Panton has exerted a significant influence on furniture design in recent decades. According to his own conceptual beliefs, his aim was to create a counterpoint to the dominating uniformity of the environments in which we live and work. This he did with strong color and organic forms, meeting functionality with high levels of emotionality – introducing fresh, new design opportunities.
A time full of vision
With his ground-breaking ideas and concepts, he countered the monotonous gray of daily life with color, form and light: Verner Panton was one of VS’s most important design partners. Close collaboration in recent years has resulted in some significant developments in chair design.
Verner Panton was born on February 13, 1926 in Gamtofte on the island of Fünen / Denmark.
Architectural studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. One of his great themes right from the start: color as a design medium.
He married the step-daughter of Poul Henningsen. The marriage did not last long; Henningsen, the Danish design legend, enjoyed a life-long association with Panton.
Benchmark-setting VS design: The wooden skid chair was frequently copied over subsequent decades – as was the plastic Panton chair.
As a colleague in the studio of architect and designer, Arne Jacobsen, Panton was directly associated with the development of the legendary ant chair.
Round Europe in a VW bus
Inspiration for the design of tomorrow – in the mid-1950s, after his work in the office of Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton undertook a number of European journeys. He traveled by VW bus with a mobile drawing office in order to gain an overview of international design and make new contacts.
From the proceeds of his first commercial successes, Panton bought a VW bus, built a drawing office into it and used it for his extended journeys through Europe.
Panton started his own studio; his first chairs were manufactured by Fritz Hansen, a well-known Danish furniture maker.
Panton took part in a furniture design competition; basic ideas from this became the basis of many of his later series.
A weekend house designed by Panton that could be dismantled and also used as a garage was manufactured in small lots.
Sitting in a vase – “wire cone” prototype
Conceived as a variant of the cone chair, the wire cone consistently broke all the rules of chair design – in the use of wire as a visible material, in its unconventional cone shape and open design: A chair that seems to be growing out of the ground.
Icon with sex appeal – Panton chair
When Panton had an idea he did not want to just change a detail – it was far more important to him to thrash out the possibilities of something completely new. You can see this with the Panton chair – fame came with a single drumbeat – it was the first cantilever chair worldwide made from plastic.
A processing innovation from VS: With LIGNOdur-processing VS revolutionized the school table top. Panton was also always very interested in innovative materials.
Play with the light – pendant lamp VP Globe
There is scarcely a furniture designer who has worked so intensively with lights as Verner Panton. Sphere and globe are his basic shape motifs – in the case of the VP Globe right down to the choice of name - its sophistication contained in lyrical play with light.
Panton presented his furniture, lighting and textiles extensively in the Danish design magazine, Mobilia.
Imagination transformed a functional building – the Spiegel publishing house
The center piece of Panton’s revolutionary design concept was to differentiate the office floors with a color scheme. His colorful counterpoint to the somber-gray architecture opened the way to a previously unimagined freedom.
One of his greatest and most representative projects to date: The design for the Spiegel publishing house building implemented in 1969.
Departure from traditional living – fantasy landscape / Visiona 2
Furniture Fair Cologne – flooring, walls, ceiling and furniture appear to have been produced from one mold: In his contribution to the Visiona Exhibition, Panton mostly dispensed with traditional single items of furniture and a conventional, function-oriented separation of space.
During the oil crisis in the 1970s, the use of plastic was subject to criticism. This led to a fundamentally new direction in furniture design.
Textile settings for residential and living space
Spatial concept, translated into a serial principle: Visual phenomena were transcribed in the textile design. Wall, floor and ceiling were all of equal importance for designer Verner Panton – they all contribute to the overall space concept.
VS introduced the air-cushion chair with seat and back shell made from inflated, double-walled polypropylene. Panton adopted air-cushion technology for his VS chairs.
Playing with geometry – textile design
Color magician as a spatial designer: For Panton the focus was not on designing textiles but designing space with textiles. Within the idea of the overall concept, all details have their fixed place.
Panton was honored with his own special “Pantorama” exhibition at the Swiss Furniture Fair in Basle.
With its recently established section for office and object furnishing VS was extending its product base and open to new areas of design.
VS presented its new office furniture at the Orgatec in Cologne: a desk with free-form top, designed by Günter Behnisch.
Verner Panton was designing for VS
After 1993, during VS’s collaboration with Verner Panton various families of chairs emerged with different seat shells and frames and all based on one principle: deceptively simple but with a strong and conspicuous identity.
Cantilever chair reloaded – PantoSwing
With PantoSwing Panton was following the great tradition of cantilever chairs. But the seat in this instance was different – it inclines forwards, so ergonomically is far more effective.
In the catalog
The cantilever chair, PantoSwing, was the first collaborative venture between VS and Verner Panton.
Panton’s rediscovery and a plastics renaissance: After the mid-1990s Panton’s design was in demand again, there was a new edition of the famous Panton chair.
A chair must be dynamic – PantoMove
Dynamics as a pre-condition for comfort – that was the declared aim of Panton’s development work. The seat height of the PantoMove swivel chair is infinitely adjustable, equipped with an innovative 3D tilt mechanism.
In the catalog
The Panton family of chairs was growing: With the PantoMove swivel chair an innovative 3D tilt mechanism was developed.
Functionality meets emotionality - PantoFour
Panton’s aim in the development work: Chairs should restrict us and our desire to sit as little as possible. This was the program he implemented so compellingly with his Panton chair series for VS.
Setting a counterpoint to uniformity: With PantoFour as well, Panton introduced color into his play with shapes.
What is most important is the idea - PantoStack
Verner Panton is not about superficial effects, he is more inclined to build upon the functional persuasiveness of an idea. PantoStack’s significance lies in its light metal construction.
In the catalog
The elegant PantoStack conference chair was the last collaborative development between VS and Verner Panton.
On the occasion of their 100-year anniversary VS moved into its new administration building with showroom - plan by Günter Behnisch. The Panton family of chairs became a great success.
Just before he died, in an exhibition designed by him at the Trapholt Museum in Kolding, Panton demonstrated once again his outstanding handling of color.
Franco Fontana photographed VS Panton chairs. For this photographic artist, born in Modena in 1933, landscape was a central theme – urban and rural. On this occasion, Fontana’s stage was set with a series of VS chairs.