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Verner Panton: Vision & Play

September 08, 2003 /

Danish Design Centre
Copenhagen, Denmark
On view: June 21, 2003 - October 21, 2003

A less successful experiment is preferable to a beautiful platitude./Verner Panton

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Photo courtesy Danish Design Centre

With roots in traditional Danish design Verner Panton (1926-98),  the "enfant terrible" of Danish design history, went in the opposite direction of most of his Danish colleagues who were strongly influenced by traditional crafts.

With his visionary, colorful home furnishings, Panton sought ways to fashion a stylistically uniform, imaginative interior.  He created his own unique design universe, where his uncompromising exploration of form, color and light resulted in a number of timeless products.

Panton experimented and used untraditional materials like plastics, fibre glass, perspex, steel, foam rubber and other synthetic materials, taking advantage of  the new technologies of the post-war era.

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Photo courtesy Danish Design Centre
"Fun" Upholstered furniture (1963-) Shell lamps (1964)

This retrospective, produced by Vitra Design Museum, shows outstanding highlights from Verner Panton's extensive oeuvre from the 1950's to the 1990's.

Panton was the first in the world to create a form-moulded chair in plastics without any joints.   His plastic Panton chair, a one-piece cantilevered design made in candy-apple colors, has been in production continuously since 1967, and its sinuous shape became synonymous with 1960's pop culture.

It is not only the most important and the most famous of Verner Panton's works, but without doubt one of the most significant chair designs of the 20th century.

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Photo courtesy Danish Design CentreWhat made the Panton chair so spectacular when it came on the market and what makes it so interesting today in terms of design history is not only its shape, which is as extravagant as it is elegant, but also the fact that it was the first chair in the history of furniture design made out of one piece of plastic which exploited the possibilities offered by the raw material both consistently and to the limits of what was technically achievable.

With the Panton Chair as well as a wide range of other chairs, sculptural lighting designs, spatial fantasies and visionary landscapes, Verner Panton earned his place in international design history. Visionary, imaginative, bold and provocative are terms that have been used to describe his works over the years.

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Photo courtesy Danish Design Centre"Wire Cone Chair" (1958) "Two-level Seat"  with Marianne and Verner Panton (1973)
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Photo courtesy Danish Design Centre
"Two-level Seat"  with Marianne and Verner Panton (1973)

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Photo courtesy Danish Design Centre
"Flower Pot" Lamps (1968) "Living Tower" (1969)

When designing furniture Verner Panton not only experimented with new materials and unusual shapes, but opened exciting new dimensions for the living space.

While keeping to the the floor with his "3D carpet" he used the whole height of the room with many other designs.

I can't bear to enter a room and see the sofa and coffee table and two chairs, immediately knowing that we are going to be stuck here for an entire evening.  I made furniture that could be raised and lowered in space so that one could have a different view of surroundings and a new angle on life./Verner Panton


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Photo courtesy Danish Design Centre
"3D Carpet" (1970 Visiona II)

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Photo courtesy Danish Design Centre
"Living Tower" (1969)

Panton's legendary interior design projects can be seen as the zenith of his work, as the synthesis of his complete oeuvre.  His goal to reach a holistic design solution and to overcome the traditional room division into three separate entities, the floor, the walls and the ceiling, was accomplished by the large scale use of colors and patterns and by the use of luminaires as wall and ceiling coverings. 

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Photo: arcspace

The exhibition includes the famous spatial fantasies and a reconstruction of  "Phantasy Landscape, "  designed for the 1970 Visiona II exhibition, a foam rubber room of womb-like organic shapes.

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Photo courtesy Danish Design Centre

During the exhibition, in the spirit of Panton, the Danish Design Centre is transformed into one large Panton universe, where the DDC's cafe and lounge are decorated with Panton furniture, lighting and fabrics.

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Photo: arcspace

Born in 1926 in a small village in Denmark Panton attended Odense technical School from 1944 to 1947 and subsequently studied architecture at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, from where he graduated in 1951. Panton's architectural work is clearly  overshadowed by his oeuvre as a designer; it was only in the beginning of his career that he was able to carry out a number of minor projects. 

Since 1963, Panton lived in Basel, Switzerland, close to the countries where his designs had their breakthrough, and where many of them were produced.

"Verner Panton - Vision & Play" was produced in 1999, shortly after Panton's death.

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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