Verner Panton (1926-1998) was an inspirational and colorful personality. A unique person with a special sense of colors, shapes, light function and room. Over the course of his career Verner Panton (1926-1998) introduced a series of modern lamps with personalities unlike any of his Scandinavian contemporaries. With a remarkable faith in the unlimited possibilities of the form, he worked successfully to create a new set of theories about how lighting should work and how it should influence its surrounding. Verner Panton studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen before going on to work at Arne Jacobsen’s architectural practice. Verner Panton set up his own design studio in 1955.
Verner Panton was born in the village of Gamtofte on the island of Funen in 1926. His father was a publican and innkeeper, who worked first at the inns in Haarslev and Mørkenborg and subsequently as tenant publican of the Komigen inn on the Langesø estate.
It was here that Verner Panton spent his childhood as the oldest of two brothers, from the age of 10 and following his parents’ divorce with three half-brothers. His mother left Funen with Verner’s younger brother to live on the island of Lolland. Verner Panton originally wanted to be an artist, but his father was against this so, as a compromise, Verner Panton decided to become an architect and train at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture in Copenhagen. However, before commencing his architectural training he started his working life as a traditional tradesman, as a bricklayer. In 1951 he qualified as an architect.”The main purpose of my work is to provoke people into using their imagination. Most people spend their lives living in dreary, grey-beige conformity, mortally afraid of usning colors. By experimenting with lighting, colors, textiles and furniture and utilizing the latest technologies, I try to show new ways, to encourage people to use their phantasy imagination and make their surroundings more exciting”.
Verner Panton started by designing lamps for Louis Poulsen. The first lamp to be put into production was the Topan lamp in 1959, followed by the Moon lamp in 1960. In 1964 Panton contacted the lighting manufacturer J. Lüber AG in Switzerland about a lamp which he had designed that consisted of hundreds of small reflective discs. The first prototype of this lamp was made using discs cut out of silver foil by his wife Marianne. Lüber liked the concept but had reservations about the materials. Instead, to achieve a similar effect to silver foil, the discs were made from thin metal sheet (as used for the product today).
Interior design projects
Verner Panton undertook numerous interior design projects, including several for the German chemicals group Bayer. Panton initiated the dialogue with Bayer in connection with the development of the Panton Chair. Subsequently, the company asked Panton to create a stand for them at the furniture fair in Cologne, Germany, in 1968. The aim of the project was to promote the fabric ‘d r a l o n’. Bayer wanted to show the multiple possibilities offered by the new textile. For this an exhibition ship was fitted out – Visiona 0 – and a length of quayside adorned with round, bright discs made of dralon. After this sensational result, Panton moved to Hamburg to furnish the Spiegel Publishing House. The aim of the refurbishment was to use design to motivate employees, to encourage them to relax in the canteen, staff swimming pool and in the bar, and to stimulate their concentration while working.