Born 1926, Denmark
Practised in Denmark
Studied Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art
Verner Panton was born in the village of Gentofte, Denmark in 1926, to Henry Panton and Ellen Koch-Hansen.
From a young age, Panton had dreams of being an artist, and he became quite a promising young artist in his youth. His father had other ideas, and persuaded him that architecture would be a better choice in the long run.
Panton studied architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He qualified as an architect in 1951.
From 1950 to 1952, Panton worked as an associate of legendary architect and furniture designer Arne Jacobsen. Together, they collaborated on a number of experimental furniture designs, including Jacobsen’s well-known Ant chair (1951-1952).
In 1955 he set up his own design and architectural office, and he gradually gained acclaim for his innovative architectural proposals.
In 1959, a Panton exhibit at the Købestaevnet trade fair turned the world upside down – literally. The ceiling was carpeted and all the furniture and lighting was inverted. Furniture was, however, at the heart of his creative output, and he produced an outstanding array of highly creative and functional pieces; most of which were chairs.
Panton’s masterwork was the very first single-form injection-molded plastic chair, which he designed between 1958 and 1967. This chair, known as Stacking Chair or S Chair when it was designed but becoming better known today as the Panton Chair, became his most famous and admired piece.
Panton’s first chair, however, which was produced commercially, was the Cone Chair, designed in 1958. The vision for it came about from the radical idea to take the geometric cone form and invert it – a novel and innovative idea which would turn out to be highly successful.
Another of Panton’s famous designs is the Phantom, which is an object which can be a an armchair, two-seater couch, bench, or side table depending on how it is placed. It is genius in its versatility, while simultaneously remaining poignantly beautiful in its organic form.
In the 1970’s, Panton accepted a number of commissions as interior designer, a field in which he would become highly sought-after. He experimented with designing entire environments; radical interiors that included items from his wide range of designs – most predominantly his furniture, but also wall upholstery, textiles, and lighting.
Panton’s most well know interior designs are the ‘Visiona’ ship installation series for the Bayer’s yearly product exhibition at the Cologne Furniture Fair (1968 – 1970). In the late 1960’s the chemical company Bayer rented a pleasure boat for every Cologne Furniture Fair and had it transformed into a temporary showroom by a well-known designer of the time. Panton was commissioned twice to design the boat’s interior, and his designs took ‘vibrant and geometric’ to another level. One of these designs has been preserved in the Design Museum at Weil am Rhein, Germany.
Another noteworthy interior design of Panton’s is that of the Astoria Hotel (1960) in Trondheim, Norway, which utilizes the uses of circles extensively, both in the patterns and textiles, and in the cylindrical designs of the furniture. Other notable works include the Spiegel Publishing headquarters (1969) in Hamburg, Germany and the Varna restaurant (1970) in Aarhus, Denmark.
Panton was known to have an inspirational and colourful personality, with a unique sense of colour, shape, light function, and space, and a passion for bright colours and geometric patterns. He had a remarkable faith in the unlimited possibilities of form, resulting in designs which were obscure and fantastical yet fully functional and surprisingly beautiful. Panton embodied the very definition of creative in his work, taking the ordinary and quite literally tuning it on its head; each time with more success than the last.
In 1998 Verner passed away in Copenhagen. He was 72.
- 1955 Tivoli Chair
- 1955 Bachelor Chair
- 1958 Cone Chair
- 1959 Heart Cone Chair
- 1959 Topan Lamp
- 1960 Peacock Chair
- 1960 Stacking Chair/S Chair
- 1960 Astoria Hotel (interior) – Trondheim, Norway
- 1960 Moon Lamp
- 1967 Panton Chair
- 1968 Pendant Flowerpot Lamp
- 1968-1970 Bayer Exposition Ships Visiona O + II (interior)
- 1969 – Spiegel Publishing headquarters (interior) – Hamburg, Germany
- 1970 Varna restaurant – Aarhus, Denmark
- 1971 Spy Lamp
- 1971 Panthella Lamp
- 1974 Wire Lamp
- 1977 Panto Lamp
- 1977 ‘Bond Villain Chair’
- 1998 Phantom