Vernon Panton (1926 – 1998) Danish Architect & Designer

Nesting Stool-Tables by Verner Panton featured image
Nesting Stool-Tables by Verner Panton featured image

Architect and Furniture Designer

Verner Panton (1926 – 1998) was a Danish architect and designer. He was born on the Danish island of Funen. He worked professionally in Binniningen, Switzerland, and the United States.

Education

Until 1951, he studied architecture at the Odense Tekniske Skole and Det Kongelige Danske Kunststakademi in Copenhagen.

Vernon Panton - The Cone Chair 1958Vernon Panton – The Cone Chair 1958 03 Mar 2002, Sun The Observer (London, Greater London, England) Newspapers.com

Biography

Verner Panton travelled widely over Europe in his Volkswagen Transporter after working as an assistant to Arne Jacobsen. His peculiarity earned him the title of “Denmark’s Most Controversial Designer” for the rest of his life. 

His K1 Cone Chair was shown upside down on the ceiling at a furniture fair in the late 1950s. Inflatable furniture, a transportable, low-cost plastic house, and a spherical house – a glass sphere reminiscent of R. Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome – were also built by Panton. Poul Henningsen, a lighting designer, praised his colleague’s “instinct for lighting” and “sense for darkness.” Above all, Henningsen regarded Panton as a gifted atmosphere creator.

Stacking side chair, 1959 - 1960 designed by Verner Panton
Stacking side chair, 1959 – 1960 designed by Verner Panton

Panton emigrated to Paris and Cannes in the early 1960s, escaping the constraints of Denmark. He subsequently resided in the Swiss city of Basel. His exuberant use of colour and bold, experimental designs, which had previously been dismissed as absurd, established a new trend. 

Work with Plastic and Synthetics

Panton’s stage was the Cologne International Furniture Fair. Bayer, the German chemicals behemoth, soon hired him to demonstrate its cutting-edge technologies. The company sought to show how plastic, polyurethane foam, and novel synthetic fibres may be used in various ways. Panton responded by creating Visiona 2, a wondrous fantasy world for the 1970 Cologne show. The Panton Chair, a cantilever chair made from a single piece of plastic, was the genuine show-stopper. Panton was the first to execute a similar technically and artistically advanced concept, which several other designers had explored. He had designed the 5 Chair for Thonet the previous year, a plywood design that anticipated the Panton Chair’s fundamental form. It was later refined for his Art Chair series.

Like Eero Aarnio of Finland, Panton was a master at transforming flowing forms into gorgeous plastic masterpieces, but he went far further. The Visiona 2 project was the first complete synthetic landscape, a future world that clearly demonstrated the space-age effect one year after the Apollo moon landing. Panton set intended to stimulate all of the senses, re-creating a spectrum of diverse experiences, “from claustrophobia to carnal yearning,” according to the Danish culture journal Mobilia.

Original Verner Panton 'Moon' Lamp for Louis Poulsen, 1960s
Original Verner Panton ‘Moon’ Lamp for Louis Poulsen, 1960s
Heart Cone Chair, 1958 by Verner Panton
Heart Cone Chair, 1958 by Verner Panton

Recognition

  • 1960-1970: International Design Award, USA (1963); Rosenthal Studio Prize, D (1966); Poul Henningsen Prise, DK (1967); International Design Award, USA (1968); Eurodomus 2, I (1968); Medal of the Austrian Building Centre, A (1968); Prize of Honour: 4th Austrian Furniture Exhibition, A (1969).
  • 1970-1980: Federal German ‘Gute Form’ Prize, DE (1972); Møbelprisen, special exhibition Pantorama is presented at the international Swiss Furniture Fair in Basle, DK (1978).
  • 1980-1990: International Design Award, USA (1981, 1986); Deutsche Auswahl (German Selection) five times, DE (1981-1984); Sadolin Farve Prize, DK (1986); Bundespreis Gute Form, D (1986).
  • 1990-2000: Dansk Designgråd Årspris prize, DK (1991); IF Prize, Japan (1992); Norway’s Design Prize, No (1992); Bo Bedre Prisen, DK (1998); Ridder af Dannebrogordenen, DK (1998); the Queen of Denmark awards the knight’s cross of the Dannebrog order (1998).
  • 2000-Present: Vitra Design Museum dedicates Retrospektive (2000); Weil am Rhein, D, honors Verner Panton with own street name: Verner-Panton-Weg (2012).

Inside-Out House Design Urged

Verner Panton - Danish Architect and DesignerVerner Panton – Danish Architect and Designer 23 Jul 1969, Wed Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) Newspapers.com

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Polster, B. (2006). The A-Z of modern design. Merrell.

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, May 24). Verner Panton. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:34, July 30, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Verner_Panton&oldid=1024882109

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