Denmark 50

Verner Panton
1926 - 1998


Nanna Ditzel
Fritz Henningsen  
Poul Henningsen  
Peter Hvidt  
Arne Jacobsen  
Grete Jalk  
Finn Juhl  
Jacob Kjaer  
Poul Kjaerholm  
Kaare Klint  
Borge Mrgensen  
Verner Panton  
Arne Vodder  
Ole Wanscher  
Hans Wegner  

Adequate 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 work.

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 innovative.

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.