Verner Panton: Genius of Danish Design Part 3
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Verner Panton: Genius of Danish Design Part 3

Verner Panton (1926-1998) was a visionary Danish designer of the 20th-century. He designed furniture and interior designs that exemplify the 1960s ‘Space Age’ look. Although much of his work appears fantastical, he was a pioneer in the use of new materials such as plastic. He created innovative and futuristic designs in a variety of materials, and in vibrant and exotic colours.

Verner Panton (1926-1998) was a visionary Danish designer of the 20th-century. He designed furniture and interior designs that exemplify the 1960s ‘Space Age’ look. Although much of his work appears fantastical, he was a pioneer in the use of new materials such as plastic. He created innovative and futuristic designs in a variety of materials, and in vibrant and exotic colours.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Panton experimented with designing entire environments: psychedelic interiors that were an ensemble of curvaceous furniture, upholstered walls and near-psychedelic lighting effects. He created a ‘total environment’ for the Astoria Hotel at Trondheim in Norway. The walls, floors and ceilings were covered in an Op Art-inspired pattern in variations of the same colour.

Panton’s Phantasy Landscape was designed for the Visiona II exhibition at the 1970 Cologne Furniture Fair. This was an interior made from foam rubber in undulating organic shapes. This forms a uterine or womb-like space. Rooms are usually divided into floor, walls and ceiling. Here, Panton was consciously reacting against the restrictions of Euclidean geometry, dissolving the floor, walls and ceiling into an amorphous, psychedelic space. The effect resembles a zero-gravity environment and would indeed make an ideal interior on a space ship with astronauts bouncing around during downtime, as suggested in publicity shots. What kind of lifestyle does this lend itself to? It clearly doesn’t support a materialist lifestyle since there is nowhere to put anything. Instead, the space seems to be intended for 60s dream of free love.

Panton did innovative design work for the headquarters of the German publication Der Spiegel in Hamburg. Panton designed a canteen. The interior is a geometric, red cave with plastic stalactites hanging from the ceiling. The effect is multiplied by mirror lighting on walls and ceilings.

Panton also designed a swimming pool for the employees. This interior is dark, but charged with coloured light that reflected upon the moving surface of the water. Swimming here would have been a psychedelic experience, like swimming in light.

During the 1970s, Panton lost his place at the centre of the design scene. In the cynical post-Vietnam era, the politicised designs of Alessandro Mendini and Ettore Sottsass seemed more salient than Panton’s playfully optimistic faith in Pop and technology.

This changed in the 1990s. The graphic designer Peter Saville chose Panton’s Shell Lamp (1964) as the centrepiece of his apartment in Mayfair. A 1995 cover of British Vogue featured a naked Kate Moss on a Panton Chair. His 60s pieces were put back into production and he was invited to design an exhibition, Verner Panton: Light and Colour, at Trapholdtmuseum in Kolding, Denmark (1998). Sadly, he died 12 days before it opened.

As part of the Panton revival, IKEA began to work with him. The Vilbert Chair (1993) is De Stijl like with its assemblage of floating planes. It was made from melamine-covered MDF. This was conceived as a 'do-it-yourself' chair, but it was only sold for one year due to poor sales.

In conclusion, Panton was a master of the fluid, futuristic style of 1960s design which introduced the Pop aesthetic to furniture and interiors.

Reading

Alexander von Vegesack and Mathias Remmele, Verner Panton: The Collected Works, Vitra Design Museum, 2000

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Comments (4)

Thanks Michae for introducing these information about Panton. He was talanted and his work is really expressive and futuristic. Very impressive share

Ranked #1 in Architecture

Thanks, Abdel. I was hoping you would like it.

I love your work so much, I have no votes left so I tweeted

What a shocking designer. I don't know if I could get used to seeing that stuff in my home everyday, but it is unusual to view and you have made the history record so interesting. I will be back with my vote, but did not want to wait until then to read this article.

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