Verner Panton is described by many as the outsider in Danish furniture design, largely due to his completely different choice of materials and techniques. In fact, he gained both critical acclaim and public recognition once he moved abroad. While Panton designed at the same time as other famous Danish designers like Arne Jacobsen or Hans Wegner, he broke through almost a decade later, as it was in the 1960s and ‘70s that his furniture and lighting was produced and recognized in the general public. Many attribute this rise of popularity of Panton’s designs to the stylistic and cultural changes brought about by the Flower Power era.
Verner Panton's Use of Colour
One of the most recognizable characteristics of Panton’s designs is his use of vivid and distinct colours, and this is true for all of his designs, whether it’s his lamps, chairs, tables, mugs or newspaper racks. Some of the most famous examples are:
Industrial Design and Choice of Materials
Apart from colours, it was mainly the materials and production techniques that differentiate Verner Panton from other prominent designers of the Danish Modern movement. While most of them hailed the art of carpentry and chose classic materials like wood and leather for their designs, Panton embraced the new opportunities brought about by industrialization and mass production. Plastic and fiberglass played an important role in many of his designs and he also designed the world’s first chair produced in a single continuous piece, namely the Paton chair from 1960, made from fiberglass and lacquered in different colours, depending on the model. Despite the somewhat poor initial reaction, the chair went on to become the symbol of innovation in Danish furniture design.
As an outsider in the Danish Modern movement, Verner Panton spent a large part of his career working abroad. He opened his own design studio in Copenhagen in 1955 but ended up moving to Switzerland in 1963. Some of his most famous endeavours took place abroad, like his task assignments in Hamburg for Der Spiegels House or in Trondheim for Hotel Astoria. Similarly, his Panton Chair was produced by Vitra, the American company behind the Eames chair. However, some of his lamps were designed for and produced by the Danish lighting manufacturer Louis Poulsen that was famous for working with Poul Henningsen.
Fluctuating Prices of Verner Panton's Designs
Although Panton’s initial success is related to his work abroad, today he is very popular in his native country. In recent years, his furniture and lighting designs have become highly sought-after by collectors, both in Denmark and internationally, passing all the assessments on auctions. While some of his furniture and lamp designs were manufactured in large numbers and are therefore common and relatively cheap, others were produced in limited numbers and the prices reflect this.
Panton has won several awards for his work, both in Denmark and abroad, including the PH Prize in 1967 and the American International Design Award in 1963 and 1968.
Living Tower – Experiment with Architecture and Furniture
Verner Panton’s perception of contemporary interior design has also influenced his work in the field of architecture, resulting in some of the most visually and aesthetically innovative designs. He was the first designer to experiment with the great potential of plastic as a basic material in his experimental projects such as the Collapsible House from 1955 or the Cardboard House in 1960. This innovative approach to this new material, as well as his experimentation with geometric shapes and bright colours marked a departure from more conventional and traditional Scandinavian design and a move towards a style strongly influenced by contemporary popular culture and design trends inspired by it.
The Living Tower from 1969 is another exciting experiment by Panton in which he unites the experimental style of furniture design and architecture to build the tower which consists of furniture in several floors. Panton had previously worked for Arne Jacobsen who influenced his perception of architectural functionalism, but Panton brought this approach a step further, adding the artistic touch and bright colours to produce innovative and experimental designs, which seem strangely in line with the stylistic shifts of the Hippie era.