Verner Panton was a Danish architect, designer, and artist born on February 13, 1926, in Gamtofte, Denmark. He is considered one of Denmark's most influential 20th-century furniture and interior designers, known for his innovative and futuristic designs in a variety of materials, especially plastics, and in vibrant and exotic colors. His style was very "1960s" but regained popularity at the end of the 20th century, and as of 2004, Panton's best-known furniture models are still in production (at Vitra, among others).
Panton grew up on the island of Funen, Denmark, and was already an experienced artist in Odense when he went to study architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Art (Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi) in Copenhagen, graduating in 1951. During the first two years of his career, from 1950 to 1952, he worked at the architectural practice of Arne Jacobsen, another Danish architect and furniture designer. While at Jacobsen's office, Panton worked primarily in furniture design- specifically, the development of the ‘Ant’ chair.
Following his employment with Jacobsen, Panton took a number of extensive trips throughout Europe over the course of three years. During this time, he established a number of international contacts with design colleagues, manufacturers, and dealers. From this, Panton was given a large number of architectural and furniture designs, including the Bachelor Chair and Tivoli Chair commissioned by prestigious Danish furniture manufacturer Fritz Hansen in 1955.
In the mid-1950s, Panton occupied himself for the first time with the idea of a chair made from a single element. In 1956, the Neue Gemeinschaft für Wohnkultur (WK-Möbel) organized a competition in which Panton participated. His entry was an entire furniture collection, which also included a stackable chair in which the seat and backrest formed a single unit. This is the project from which the so-called 'S-Chair' is derived. The competition entry itself was not successful, with his designs failing to win a prize. However, the S-Chair went on to become one of Panton's most famous designs.
In 1957, a prefabricated weekend house was produced as a small series called the All Round House, which was one of Panton's earliest architectural designs. In 1958, Panton redesigned his parents’ inn, Kom-igen, in the Langesø Park on the island of Fünen, for which he also designed the Cone Chair. The Kom-igen inn was one of Panton’s first major commissions, and he designed the interior as well as a one-floor extension with a roof terrace. He used five different shades of red for the interior to give it warmth while including dark colors for the table linens. Panton developed a flexible system made of fabrics with geometrical patterns to hang from the ceiling to divide up the room. From this, began the start of the cooperation with the Danish firms of Plus-Linje (Cone Chair series furniture), Unika Væv (textiles) and Louis Poulsen (lighting).
In 1960, Panton was the designer of the very first single-form injection-molded plastic chair. The Stacking chair or S chair was mass-produced and became the most famous of his designs derived from organic shapes echoing curves of the human body – in this case, the tongue. During this time, Panton also designed the first inflatable seating elements made of transparent plastic in furniture history.
Panton died on September 5, 1998, in Copenhagen, but his influence on the world of design continues to be felt today. His colorful and innovative designs helped to redefine the boundaries of furniture design and interior architecture, and his legacy as a visionary and innovative designer remains an inspiration to many.