Verner Panton (1926-1988)

Danish architect, interior designer and color theoretician, born Funen Island, Denmark; active Basel, Switzerland and the United States.


The maverick Panton, who studied architecture and engineering in Odense in the 1950´s, devoted his career to producing highly original, exuberant furniture, objects and interiors. His work, which sometimes bordered on the bizarre, always demonstrated a boundless creativity, and stood in stark contrast to the staid, understated idiom of Danish Modernism as practiced by his contemporaries.

After completing his studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, he worked briefly for Arne Jacobsen. Panton found the routine work in Jacobsen´s studio tedious and constraining; at the time the bulk of his creative energy lay with his own designs.

He struck out in 1953, equipping a Volkswagen bus as a mobile drafting studio and establishing contacts in the furniture and design world on an extended trip throughout Europe.

His reputation was firmly established by his 1957 Cardboard House exhibition, and furthered in 1960 by his Plastic House. Everything about his interior schemes was new and experimental; his projects for corporate clients such as Bayer AG and the publishing house Spiegel featured bold color, organic forms and innovative synthetic materials.

Panton made perhaps his greatest contribution to design with his groundbreaking chairs ¬ó most notably the Panton chair (1967), the first one-piece, molded plastic cantilevered chair ever designed. It demonstrated both an elegant simplicity, and a forward looking interest in new materials and technologies. Other important furniture designs include the S chair (1965), and the Stacking chair (1967).

Panton, a two-time recipient of the International Design Award, was also active as a designer of lighting and textiles. Many of his pieces have become icons of the pop furniture movement and are still in production today.

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