Verner Panton

2 June 2014 | Inspiration

The thesis of “Color is more important than form” may be perceived as too arrogant and radical, if these words do not belong to the man who changed the principle of forming itself in industrial design. Verner Panton (Verner Panton) has this statement entitled. He began his career as an assistant to Arne Jacobsen, he knew that he could go further.

«There is no such law that should stand in the living room sofa, two armchairs and a coffee table. There are other ways to create an atmosphere of relaxation»

Verner Panton


Verner Panton was never finished form designer, so all of its development remains relevant to this day, and some are still regarded as experimental models. Working with materials such as Plexiglas, fiberglass, plywood, plastic, glass, steel, foam rubber, penopropilena, he created a previously unknown psychedelic interiors. Panton did not try to come up with some, even if the original items, but instead he tried to create an atmosphere. Each object is performed as part of the living environment, fitting into the overall concept and transferring the right mood. The designer called it “an interactive home landscape.” Hallmark Panton can rightly be called the installation “Fantastic landscape” in the room he had planned wavy Visiona II in 1970 (Cologne, Germany). This surreal interior, where the walls, floor, ceiling and furniture are a single organism, has become a true emblem of the 60s.

Panton argued that color is more important than form, and its aim is to teach people around a traditional gray-beige color, use your imagination in the design of interiors.

Working with bright, clean colors, often opposite to that which would be natural for a particular object, he proposed a revolutionary new approach to the design space.


But despite the enthusiasm for color, he created a huge number of objects that are included in the history of design thanks to its revolutionary form. Among these things – the famous Panton Chair (1960), chair of a single piece of molded plastic. Seven years Panton sought factory, which will be taken to make this model, and at the same time continued to improve it. Originally manufactured by Fritz Hansen, chair production started in 1967 by Herman Miller & Fehlbaum. Since 1999 and until now it produces the company Vitra. Panton Chair debuted in 1967 on the cover of the magazine Mobilia and won AID in 1968.

The shape of the chair, which is a curve, not having any framework has been developed in order to give the body a soft support, this is what has been done – in different color variations.

“Sitting in a chair should be fun and interesting, as in the game” – says Panton. He developed this idea further, creating a suspended chairs, violate the principle of gravity, chairs, flowers, inflatable chairs and chairs with a wire cage. Flight of fancy designer did not hold back, it looked like nothing, and modern materials allow to realize the most daring of his projects.

Verner Panton was born in a small town Gamtoft Danish Funen. Since childhood, he aspired to become an artist, but showed great talent in drawing. Panton studied at a technical college in Odense for a civil engineer. After completing his studies at the college, Panton moved to Copenhagen in 1947 and began studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.

Meeting with Paul Henningsenom, lighting designer, known for his bold, clear aesthetic principles, allowed Panton began experimenting with furniture design. (In 1950 he married the daughter of Panton Henningsen – Tove Kemp, but soon divorced). Also, he is friends with the designer-craftsman Hans Wegner, known for modernizing classic Danish teak chairs. Thanks to him, Panton showed a passion for experimenting with plastic and man-made materials to create a dynamic color solution in geometrical forms of pop art.

No less important was the training and cooperation with Verner Panton, Arne Jacobsen from 1950 to 1952. In the studio, Panton was not on the best account, as most of the time devoted to their own projects.


Nevertheless, it is PMS is directly involved in the drafting of the chair «Ant» («ant”), who made Arne Jacobsen world famous industrial designer. In fact, Arne Jacobsen and Verner Panton was realized a dream of modernism – to create a chair for everyday use, suitable for mass production and ergonomic seating. The possibility of its realization came only with the introduction of new industrial technologies. Ant was the first industrially produced chair whose back and seat are formed integrally. Jacobsen was trying to use the smallest amount of material in the creation and further production. Perhaps that is why Ant had three legs of bent tubes, and only the later modification – Model №7 – four. Influence on the work of Arne Jacobsen Panton in non-standard use of materials and the pursuit of ergonomics is obvious. Later, Verner Panton “West” teacher, making a bright, light, ergonomic and dynamic chair PantoSwing-2K – on two legs.

Acquiring a commission from the first of the orders used Volkswagen, Panton converted it for traveling the drawing studio and began a journey through Europe, which helped him to sign contracts with producers. In 1955, Fritz Hansen began production stulevBachelor and Tivoli, made ​​of tubular steel, fabric and plastic.

His work is the architect of the Exhibition of Applied Arts at Fredericia Furniture Fair in 1958 was a harbinger of his unconventional approach to design principles. He demonstrated furniture, hanging from a ceiling than a shock as the organizers and the visitors. Chairs Cone («Cone”) and Heart («Heart”), created in the same year, marked the beginning of his experiments with non-standard form of the chair. These chairs do not have a single back or legs, they looked like a cylinder with a dent, designed to sit. Since its chairs were rarely legs, critics decided to call his creations simply “seats.”


One of the best projects implemented Panton furniture design, – Cone Chair, designed by him for the redesign of the hotel restaurant Konigen on Funen (Denmark). According to Verner Panton, the idea arose during the preliminary sketch on paper of a new chair. Continuing the line of the back in a straight line until it comes into contact with the foot – stand located on the floor, he was a completely new idea in shaping the chairs. In other words, just ruined the familiar idea of ​​the shaping of the chair. Inverted Cone, Cone was so futuristic and shocking for its time, that once exhibited in the shop window of the manufacturer in New York, led to the need to call the police: to restore the traffic in front of the showroom. In the production of this chair went through Percy von Halling – Koch, who was present at the opening of the restaurant and invited the designer engaged in the production and marketing of its furniture. Especially for this purpose, he founded the company Plus – linje as an addition to his thriving company in the textile business Uniko.

Further development of the design was made by Cone Chair constructed of metal wire Wire Cone Chair. Another experiment for Plus – linje collection, was the creation of a transparent Plexiglas chairs, and an attempt to create a chair made of thin plastic with the possibility of filling it with air. Until Panton worked with transparent materials are just a few designers, such as Jean Jacques Andre Pryuve and their collection of garden chairs 1936.

When Panton presented inflatable plastic chair at a furniture exhibition in 1960, he received orders for a few thousand copies, but none of the chairs was not delivered to the customer: the air in the new chairs just did not stay for a long time. Development of technology at that time did not allow to eliminate this problem.


Blow from Carla Scolari, Paolo Lomazzi, Jonathan De Paz and Donato D’Urbino was already promoted with the possibility of long-term use of furniture based on the principle of blow up.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s Panton experimented with the use of tissue in the interior. He believed that furniture should interact with each other, as “a kind of landscape that refuses to be just functional.” During this period, a whole series of objects that reflect the philosophy of the designer.

Another significant contribution Panton design mid-century – his continued experimentation with light. Series of lamps «Fun», pendant lamp «Globe» and a variety of chandeliers have initiated a new approach to lighting. From 1955 to 1998, Panton has designed more than 25 fixtures. Lighting by Panton ceased to be just a necessity and became an integral part of interior design, making the interior play in new ways.

It is noteworthy that after Paul Hennigenom Panton uses the original technique in working with light: it makes the lamp a source of light, hiding it from prying eyes and leaving the possibility to adjust the strength and direction of light. Since 1959, his lamps are run in industrial production (bulb «Topan»).

But the most remarkable ever invented designer lamps, Shell Lamp, was created in 1964 and consisted of a large number of circles cut out of the shell. This is a rare example of the use of natural materials Panton. In most of its fixtures main role was played metal, plastic, color and rounded shape.

In the mid-seventies Panton became interested in the creation of private interiors. The piece, the individual work has allowed the designer again to destroy them by the same canons.

In a cynical post-Vietnam era of the 70s Verner Panton gradually lost its place on the stage of industrial design. Politicized aesthetics and design by Alessandro Medini and Gaetano Pesce seemed more important than a playful upbeat style Panton. While other designers of his generation, such as Ettore Sattsass were adopted and are actively working with young colleagues, Verner Panton was in all the more isolated in its internal Swiss exile.

Books do not burn, and brilliant things, too, and this is confirmed by the triumphant ascension to the world stage design in the nineties. Already forgotten, written off in the legends of the past century, Panton easily returns withered, was the laurels of a great artist and again finds recognition, especially among young people.

Biography of Verner Panton. Verner Panton Biography

1926 – Born in Gamtoft (Gamtofte) on the island Fünen, Denmark.

1944 – Moves to Odense (on the same island) to enroll in a technical college. Becomes connected Danish resistance against the German occupation.

1947 – Begins training at degree architect at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.

1950 – Becomes assistant to Arne Jacobsen. Is directly involved in the design of the chair «Ant» («ant”).

1955 – Fritz Hansen (Fritz Hansen) launches the first production samples Panton furniture – chairs «Tivoli» and «Bachelor».

1957 – Attempts to make the production of a limited edition furniture.

1958 – Opening of the restaurant Komigen, for which the Panton chair creates a “cone» (Cone Chair) – a great response from the public.

1960 – Develops an inflatable chair. Design hotel “Astoria” in the city of Trondheim in Norway.

1961 – Furniture, fixtures and work on textiles Panton published in Mobilia.

1963 – Moves to Basel (after a short stay in Cannes) and his wife Marianne Person-Oertenheim. Begins collaboration with Herman Miller – (Vitra) in Basel.

1964 – Chair «Flying» Lamps «Shell» make a splash at the furniture fair in Cologne.

1965 – Debut of the chair «S» for Thonet. Starts with Herman Miller (Vitra) to launch production of the chair «Panton», launched in 1968.

1966 – Receives Award Rosenthal studio.

1969 – Creates interior Spiegel publishing house in Hamburg, Germany; participates in the exhibition “What is design?” in Paris.

1970 – It is the exposure of the room Visiona II – «Fantastic landscape” at the “Bayer” on the Cologne fair.

1973 – Completion of the work on the interior offices Grüner & Jahr in Hamburg.

1984 – teaches at the College of Design in Offenbach.

1987-1988 – Retrospective exhibition in Brussels and Copenhagen.

1990 – Vitra resumed production of the chair «Panton».

1994 – IKEA produces chair «Vilbert». The rebirth of interest in the works of Verner Panton.

1995 – Chair «Panton» appears on the cover of British Vogue.

1998 – Verner Panton dies in Copenhagen for 12 days before the opening of his exhibition “Light and Color” in Trapholtmuseum in Kolding, Denmark.

2000 – Opens Retrospective “Verner Panton: Light and Color” in the Design Museum Vitra, Weil am Rhein, and the Design Museum in London.