The Panton Chair is a design iconic found in homes, museums and restaurants across the world. Also known as the S Chair thanks to its cantilevered silhouette, Verner Panton’s eponymously named chair revolutionised modern furniture production.
Read on to find out everything there is to know about this statement chair and the designer behind it.
BEHIND THE DESIGN
Verner Panton first designed the Panton Chair in 1959 alongside renowned manufacturer Vitra. Above all, as one of the most forward-thinking mid-century designs, the plastic cantilevered chair was an industry first.
A neatly stacked pile of plastic buckets reportedly inspired Panton to design a stackable chair made using plastic. He began creating sketches during the 1950s and the design immediately stood out because it rejected wood. At the time wood was one of the materials favoured by Panton’s contemporaries.
The chair’s distinctive silhouette also sets it apart from some of the most popular designs of the era. Its 19767 unveiling in the Danish design journal Mobilia caused a sensation and the Panton Chair subsequently became a staple in Pop Art interiors.
In the following years the Panton Chair featured in photo shoots and editorial campaigns across the world. For example, it most famously featured in a 1995 British Vogue shoot where it was sat on by a nude Kate Moss.
HOW IT’S MADE
Given that Verner Panton’s aim was to create a lightweight, comfortable chair made using a single piece of plastic, it’s no wonder it took him several years to find the right manufacturer. Finally partnering with Vitra in 1963, Panton and the prestigious manufacturer developed the Panton Chair over the next four years.
Whilst Vitra’s original design was made using fibreglass, today’s model is crafted from injection-moulded plastic. State-of-the-art machines shape each chair using a ten-tonne mould and heated thermoplastic. Once cooled, specialists hand-finish the Panton Chair so each one boasts the most refined finish possible.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
One of the mid-century designers who embraced colour with open arms, Verner Panton remains a revered name today. His unique sense of colour, shape and light led him to create designs such as the Panton Chair, Panthella Table Lamp and the Heart Cone Chair.
Having studied architecture at Copenhagen’s Academy of Fine Arts, Verner Panton’s career began working at famed designer Arne Jacobsen’s firm. Having spent just two years working under the master, Panton founded his own studio.
His work differed largely from that of his Scandinavian contemporaries thanks to his fascination with cutting-edge technology. In fact, it is this curiosity that led to the Panton Chair – the world’s first single-form injection-moulded plastic chair.
Experimentation with state-of-the-art technologies, techniques and materials allowed Panton to step away from the norm and truly experiment with design. He was also similarly fascinated with colour. Many of his most-celebrated designs boast bright primary colours, like the Panton Chair.
Today countless museums across the globe display his work with pride. Some notable institutions include the MoMA in New York, Copenhagen’s Danish Museum of Art and Design and London’s Design Museum. Vintage Panton pieces can garner huge sums when sold and are incredibly sought after.