“The main purpose of my work is to provoke people into using their imagination,” noted the Danish designer Mr Verner Panton. “Most people spend their lives in dreary, grey-beige conformity, mortally afraid of using colours. I try to show new ways, to encourage people to use their fantasy imagination and make their surroundings more exciting.”
More than a mission statement, this could be seen as a pop at mid-20th century Danish society and certainly the furniture design community from which Mr Panton emerged and soon rebelled against. Where his contemporaries limited themselves to a palette of coniferous wood tones, Mr Panton’s work was as unbridled as a rainbow.
His most celebrated piece is also his most ubiquitous. In fact, you’ve probably parked your bum on it (or at the very least a replica or copy). Realised in 1960 from ideas he’d been playing with over the previous decade, his stackable S-shaped chair was to be the first single-form injection-moulded plastic model to go into mass-production. And while it presented a turning point in the way furniture was manufactured, its aesthetic appeal was key. It became commonplace, but still somehow exotic; it was simplistic, but symbolic of the technical advances of the Space Age we had just entered. And when it was chosen as a prop for Ms Kate Moss’ famous 1995 Vogue cover, rather than fall into the backdrop, it held its own against the naked supermodel perched on it.