Born: 1926 - Died: 1998 Best-known works: Tivoli chair, Verner Panton chair, Bachelor chair, FlowerPot lamps & Topan lamps - both from &tradition, Globe lamp from Verpan, Panthella lamps from Louis Poulsen Trainging: Architect
Training Verner Panton had close ties with many of the most important Danish designers of the time. He was trained by Poul Henningsen at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, and after completing his degree he got a job working for Denmark’s greatest architect, Arne Jacobsen. Panton was also friends with designer/craftsman Hans Wegner. But where Wegner’s skill was in modernising the classic Danish teak chair, Panton’s passion lay with plastic and other manmade materials that could be created in vibrant colours and shaped into geometric forms in the spirit of Pop Art.
Meeting Poul Henningsen at the Royal Danish Academy inspired Panton to take up product design. (Panton actually married Henningsen’s daughter Tove Kemp in 1950 but they were divorced soon afterward.)
Arne Jacobsen was just as important a figure for Panton and together the two created the famous Ant chair among other objects.
After Panton established his reputation as a visionary designer he felt free to experiment. He developed the first inflatable piece of furniture – made of clear plastic film. He also created a ‘total environment’ for the Astoria Hotel in Trondheim, Norway - the floor, walls and ceiling were all covered in the same Op Art-inspired patterns in variations of the same colours. This was a forerunner for the later, even more dramatic environments Panton created for the headquarters of the Spiegel publishing company in Hamburg.
Even though he won several prizes during the 70’s Panton slowly began to drift away from his position in the centre of the design scene. In the cynical post-Vietnam era, people found politicised design more eye-catching than Panton’s playfully optimistic belief in technology and the power of Pop.
But in the middle of the 90’s, when midcentury modernism in general – and Verner Panton in particular – became modern again, graphic designer Peter Saville chose Panton’s Shell lamp as the centrepiece of his much-photographed apartment in London’s Mayfair, and British Vogue featured a picture of a naked Kate Moss on a Panton chair in 1995.
Panton won even more prizes and his designs for the 60’s were set in production again. He was invited to design an exhibition at Trapholdt Museum in Kolding, Denmark – the exhibition opened on 17 September 1998, 12 days after Panton’s death.
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