The year 2018 marks a special anniversary: 50 years ago, the Panton Chair was first presented at IMM Cologne. For this reason, two special editions of this chair will be released this year, the Panton Chrome and the Panton Glow.
Panton Chrome and Panton Glow
Verner Panton was one of the most influential figures in the development of design during the 1960s and ’70s. Along with his experimental approach to forms and colors, he was captivated by the potential of plastic, a novel material at the time. His aim was to create a comfortable chair made in one piece that could be used anywhere. After searching for a manufacturer for several years, Panton came into contact with Vitra in 1963. Together they developed the Panton Chair, which was first presented in 1967 and has since become a design classic. Now, for 2018 Vitra has launched two new versions of The Panton Chair.
Serial production of the Panton Chair commenced in 1967. It was hailed as a sensation and received numerous prizes. One of the earliest models is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Today the Panton Chair is regarded as a classic of modern furniture design.
In 2010, for the Panton Chair’s 50th Anniversary, we published a fun post in which 31 artists reinterpreted the classic chair for a charitable auction. For that event, Foster & Partners created a chromed version, a coincidental precursor to the 2018 version.
Having conceived a design for an all-plastic chair made from one piece, it took Verner Panton several years to find a manufacturer. He first came into contact with Vitra in 1963 and together they developed the Panton Chair, which was presented in 1967. It was hailed as a sensation and received numerous prizes. The original version of the chair with a glossy lacquer finish is still marketed today under the name Panton Chair Classic.
After several years of joint development by Verner Panton and Vitra, the Panton Chair was finally ready for production in 1967 – as the first all-plastic cantilever chair to be manufactured in one piece. Created with a revolutionary production technique, the chair’s unique sculptural design was presented to the public for the first time at the imm Furniture Fair in Cologne in 1968. It rapidly came to symbolize an entire era.
Now, Vitra has issued a new Panton Glow, a glow-in-the-dark version in a limited edition.
Verner Panton showed an ardent interest in innovative technologies, techniques and materials over the course of his lifetime. He worked with lighting, colour and luminous elements in many of his futuristic interiors. For his legendary 1970 installation ‘Visiona 2’, in particular, he developed walls and ceilings that appeared to glow from within as a result of their layout and colour scheme, giving the room a psychedelic look.
With this in mind, Vitra has developed the new Panton Glow in consultation with Verner’s wife Marianne Panton. In an elaborate process, five layers of a varnish containing phosphorescent pigments are carefully applied by hand to the raw polyurethane shell of the Panton Classic and sealed with a high-gloss protective coating. The luminous pigments absorb daylight and emit a blue glow in the dark. The almost ghostly appearance of Panton Glow in the obscurity of night has a somewhat mystical aura and sheds new light – quite literally – on this iconic classic. The limited edition of Panton Glow emphasises the sculptural qualities of the design with its fascinating effects in the dark.
With the new Panton Chrome edition, an old dream of the designer finally comes to fruition: back in the early 1970s he had explored the option of giving the Panton Chair a mirrored surface.
He felt that the chair’s dynamic curves were particularly suited to a reflective coating; however, the sensitivity of such a surface to scratching was an insurmountable technical obstacle at that time.
Today, almost 50 years later, a reliable yet complex procedure is available, one that involves highly specialised hand craftsmanship. The dazzling mirrored effect of Panton Chrome is the result of a metallisation process, in which metal particles are embedded in multiple layers of varnish. This complex coating system is resilient enough to cope with the slight movement of the cantilever chair when in use, while being sufficiently robust to protect the sensitive surface. The limited edition of Panton Chrome highlights the chair’s sculptural qualities in a spectacular way.
Vintage Panton photos by: Louis Schnakenburg, Copenhagen; Schnakenburg & Brahl, courtesy of Vitra