Designer Profile: Verner Panton

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Verner Panton is a highly influential designer of modern classic furniture throughout the twentieth century. Panton is known for innovations such as the creation of inflatable furniture and the Panton Chair, which was the first piece of furniture made from a single piece of injection-molded plastic.

Born in 1926 in Gamtofte, Denmark, Verner Panton began his studies at the age of 18 at the Odense Technical School, where he studied architectural engineering. From 1947 until 1951, Panton continued his studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Through friend and mentor Poul Henningsen, Verner Panton was introduced to his first wife, whom he married in 1950. Although the marriage did not last, the friendship between Panton and his father-in-law remained strong.

Henningsen also introduced Panton to modern designer and architect Arne Jacobsen. From 1950 until 1952, Panton worked in the firm of Arne Jacobsen in which he said he had “never learnt so much from somebody like Arne Jacobsen.” After his gig at Jacobsen’s firm, Panton hopped in a VW van and toured Europe for three years. From this trip, he engaged in the international design scene and established relationships with potential colleagues and manufacturers.

Upon his return, Panton saw the first round of production for his designs with Fritz Hansen, who produced his Bachelor Chair and Tivoli Chair. In 1958, the Tivoli Chair carried on to Panton’s next project in which he was asked by his parents to redesign their Inn. Panton did a complete redesign on the Inn, even incorporating the wardrobes of the staff into the décor. The Tivoli Chair and the Cone Chair were the two main pieces of furniture used in the redesign. The Cone Chair was such a hit that Danish manufacturer Plus-linje put it into production the following year.

The sixties began the design innovation that Panton is known for. In 1960, he created the first inflatable furniture, which set the precedence of materials and styles that became characteristic of Verner Panton. Two years later, while on vacation, Panton met his future wife Marianne. They married two years later, and then had a daughter two years after they married. While beginning a family, Panton was still hard at work.

In 1963, Panton began discussion with Vitra to manufacture the Panton Chair, which is made out of a single piece of injection-molded plastic. Because of the unique design and manufacturing process of the Panton Chair, it took several years for Panton to find a manufacturer that was able to produce the Panton Chair. Finally, in 1967 Vitra began selling the Panton Chair to the public.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Verner Panton continued with his innovations and created many pieces of furniture, lighting, wall panels and textiles. Panton worked on various projects involving renovations and design makeovers of many buildings. In 1998, Panton was honored by the Queen of Denmark with the Cross of Honour of the Order of the Dannebrog for his life’s work. Panton passed away several months later on September 5, 1998.
Take a look at the Panton Style S Chair and Panton Rugs available at Inmod.