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What’s New: Why We’re Wearing A Rainbow Of Danish Design

February 2019Words by Mr Jim Merrett

“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.