description of Verner Panton’s legacy requires language
as progressive as his art. His creative genius is apparent
even to the unsophisticated enthusiast. He is best known for
re-imagining the form of the chair although the true scope
of his work is much greater. Light fixtures and fully conceived
interior environments also belong to his impressive body of
Verner Panton was born in 1926 on the Danish Island of Funen
where he spent his formative years. He was trained as an architectural
engineer at Odense Technical College, and later studied at
the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Additionally,
he is known to have worked two years for well known countryman,
Arne Jacobsen, before embarking on a journey to pursue his
own ambitions. The fruit of his labors proved to be wonderfully
Panton took an approach to design that was decidedly non-traditional.
His chairs were often constructed from molded plastic and
steel wire frames whose resemblance to traditional chairs
is sometimes only slight. Yet, the fluidity of line and the
landscape-like features of his furniture are the aesthetic
rewards of this break from tradition. Panton created such
features with the most advanced techniques and production
processes of his time. His 1960, self-titled chair was the
first of its kind. It was formed from a single piece of molded
plastic and represented a unique synthesis of design and technique.
He built on this achievement when he created his “S”
chair. Similar to the “Panton” in form it was
made of a single piece of cantilevered plywood that gives
one a sense of weightlessness when sitting in it. Another
notable first was the advent of inflatable furniture of which
Panton was the father. His prototype was a pneumatic stool
consisting of four separate, air-filled chambers. Although
Panton did not bring pneumatic furniture to the mass market
it was his designs that inspired those who did.
His work took a different turn when in the late 1960’s
and early 1970’s he began experimenting with designing
interior environments. He made use of rich colors and myriad
kinds of fabrics. These experiments became a series of elaborate
spaces that evoke nothing less than a sense of the fantastic.
They are fantastic because they are superlative and also because
they embody futuristic motifs and seemingly otherworldly surroundings.
In this sense he calls upon one’s imagination to respond
to his environments creatively. Exemplary of this work is
the interior of the cruise ship Loreley that sailed the Rhine
done on commission by Bayer AG, and the Grand Europa hotel
in Lac Lugano, Switzerland.