Panton Chair

The Panton Chair is perhaps one of the most intriguing and exotic furniture designs of the 20th century. Designed by Verner Panton, the legendary Danish modernist and an iconic figure of furniture and interior design, the chair is yet another proof that Denmark shall be proclaimed the world’s capital of chair design. This timeless piece of furniture, despite its considerable age, still looks extravagant and intriguing, making it a great, tasteful addition to any modern interior.

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History

The design of the chair was conceived by Verner Panton, a Royal Danish Academy of Art graduate, whose innovative approach and use of new, cutting edge materials revolutionized the world of the interior design. His great passion for bright colours and geometric patterns manifested itself in his outstanding body of work, which includes a multitude of furniture design classics. Panton was particularly fascinated by the potential of plastic, a novel material at the time. In the mid-1950’s, Panton started working on a single-piece chair entirely manufactured from plastic. His new desire was particularly well depicted by Panton himself, who said: “I want to design furniture that grows up out of the floor (..) To turn the furniture into something organic. Which never has four legs.” His first design was called the S-Chair and is considered to be a forerunner for the Panton Chair, which first plaster-molded prototypes were developed in the early 1960’s. In 1963, Panton began his collaboration with the Vitra furniture company, with which he further improved the design.

The ready chair first came into the limelight in 1967 and was enthusiastically received by the public and critics. Soon after its presentation, the chair, hailed as a design sensation, was launched into mass production. This furniture design classic enjoyed instant commercial success and is still available under the same brand.

Design

The chair’s cutting-edge futuristic design, combined with the innovative use of materials, has earned the chair a very special place in the history of interior design. Praised by critics from all over the world, the unique form of the Panton Chair is extraordinarily appealing and stylish, which should come as no surprise since it is one of the items on display at the Museum of Modern Arts in New York, Berlin's German Historical Museum, Copenhagen's Danish Museum of Art & Design and London's Design Museum. Although the chair looks like a masterpiece of modern art, it is fully functional and very comfortable. Its shell is shaped to match the curves of a human body.

The waterfall seat edge, which reduces the pressure exerted on the back side of the user’s thighs.. The distinctive, S-shaped chair was originally manufactured in rigid polyurethane foam with a glossy lacquer finish, since the plastic dying process was not developed at that time. This version of the chair is still commercially available under the name Panton Chair Classic. Since the chair’s introduction in 1967, it has gone through many production improvements as well as started utilizing new, more durable materials. In 1999, Vitra reintroduced the Panton Chair, which was manufactured in accordance with its original conception – out of dyed-through plastic with a lustrous matte finish. This variant of the chair is sold under the name Panton Chair. Both chairs are available in a wide range of vibrant colours.

The seamless form of the chair, without any joints and binders, makes it very robust and stable. The chair is extrusion-molded in a single piece. Its well-thought-out cantilever shape makes the chair stackable, thereby making it easier to store. The overall appearance of the chair is extraordinarily appealing and intriguing. Even today, more than five decades after its presentation, when modernism is not an extravagant or radical concept anymore, the Panton Chair has neither aged nor become trite. It still looks fresh and contemporary.

Interesting facts

  • During the first two years of his career (1950-1952), Panton worked as an apprentice of Arne Jacobsen, a Finnish architect and designer, who is responsible for many furniture designs classics, such as: the Egg Chair, the Swan Chair and the Drop Chair.

  • The chair can be seen in the movie Beyond the Black Rainbow.

  • In 1995, the Panton Chair appeared on the cover of Vogue with Kate Moss sitting on it naked. The famous photograph was taken by Nick Knight. The picture lives up to the image of the chair, which is often claimed to be the sexiest chair ever made.

  • The Panton Chair was a first mass-produced fully plastic chair manufactured in a single piece.