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With his provocative choices of material, his playful shapes and his bold use of colour the enfant terrible of Danish design Verner Panton has made some of the most iconic Danish design including the S chair and the flowerpot lamps.
Born in 1926 Panton began his creative career at a technical college where he learned about different crafts before studying architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Art. After graduating in 1951 he worked for a while at the office of the iconic architect and designer Arne Jacobsen. Panton got this job with a bit of help from his father in law, another Danish architect and design giant Poul Henningsen whose step-daughter Panton had married in 1950.
All was set for Panton to pursue a more “conventional” career in the Danish design and architecture world. But Panton proved to be “stubborn and forever young” as Poul Henningsen expressed it, and instead of staying on in Arne Jacobsen´s studio he went on a three year study tour of Europe in a converted VW van that functioned as Panton´s office.
Back in Denmark, Panton set up his own studio and started transforming the numerous impressions from his travels into some of the most daring furniture design the world had seen. “The principal purpose of my work is to challenge people to use their imagination” he exclaimed.
Among his most famous pieces is the Panton chair, which became the world´s first one-piece moulded plastiDuring the sixties and seventies Panton experimented with designing entire environments, often described as radical, psychedelic and suitable for the space age. Among his famous works during this period are the Visiona II interior at the 1970 Cologne Furniture Fair and his design for the editorial house of German magazine Der Spiegel.
P anton continued his prolific work in the eighties and nineties renovating and redesigning buildings and constantly inventing new furniture. Between 1981 and 1986 he won the German design prize Deutsche Auswahl five times and in 1998 Panton was awarded the Cross of Honour of the Order of Dannebrog by the Danish Queen.
Verner Panton died on September 5th 1998, just 12 days before the inauguration of a major retrospective exhibition of his work.