An Icon Remembered: Verner Panton
Annie Block and Mark McMenamin -- Interior Design, 1/1/2010 12:00:00 AM
Based on archival evidence that's, at best, sketchy, 2010 may have us toasting the 50th anniversary of Verner Panton's first drawing for his namesake chair. Or else the congrats are a year overdue. What we do know for sure is that his cantilevered masterpiece for Vitra not only symbolizes an era but also crosses generations, from guest appearances in 1970's advertisements to a supporting role in Zaha Hadid Architects's pop-up concert hall at the U.K.'s Manchester International Festival in 2009. Manufactured originally in fiberglass-reinforced polyester, then in rigid polyurethane foam, the Panton chair eventually took an unfortunate misstep into injection-molded resin, the brittleness of which prompted discontinuation in 1979. Issued once again in rigid polyurethane foam in 1983, as the Panton Chair Classic, it also spawned a less expensive version, simply dubbed the Panton, in injection-molded polypropylene that's fully recyclable.
Panton the man died in 1998, but Panton the chair continues to evolve. In 2006, Vitra launched the Panton Junior. It's 25 percent smaller than the original, scaled perfectly for design fanatics in training.
Verner Panton's sketch for his namesake chair dates to either 1959 or 1960. Lending support to a 1971 hosiery campaign.