Design classics: Discover the Panton chair and its creator.
Meet this 1960s icon of organic shapes and bold colors—a design by Danish designer Verner Panton. Today, the Panton Chair Classic is one of the most recognizable chairs in the universe of the famous Vitra furniture company - except for the models designed by the Eames couple. Made in a single piece and available in multiple and striking colors, this plastic cantilever chair is a classic that, nevertheless, helps to give a very contemporary and fresh touch to any space. Comfortable, lightweight, and modern, it is an essential piece of design history. The Panton chair is named after its creator, the Danish Verner Panton (1926-1998), one of the most influential designers of the 1960s and 1970s, well known for his experiments with plastic and his use of color. Trained as an architect, he worked in the early fifties in Arne Jacobsen's studio before founding his own. His eagerness to innovate and fascination with new technologies led him to design inflatable furniture -he was the first to do so- and take plastic to new forms never seen before, as in the case of this flying piece.
In addition to furniture with organic shapes such as the Cone chair or the Heart -two other very famous pieces within his extensive production-he also became well known for his textile designs, always colorful and with an apparent inclination towards the geometric. This interest led him to experiment with all the surfaces of an interior, from walls to floors or ceilings, so that his particular and futuristic vision marked what is known as the style of an era. With this same idea of merging all the elements of an interior, he created his famous Living Tower, an atypical seat composed of two aspects in which four people can sit at different levels. This proposal was already radical in the late 1960s and remains so today. The Panton chair symbolizes the optimism of the era it was conceived. The aim of its creator in designing this piece was to experiment with plastic, then a new material full of possibilities. It is said that the original inspiration came from observing a pile of plastic buckets.
Once he decided that plastic would be the material he would use in its manufacture, Panton began to look for a suitable manufacturer, joining Vitra after several years of searching. Together they embarked on the adventure of making a one-piece plastic chair that would also be comfortable and could be mass-produced—quite a challenge for the time and even today. Four years passed when they began researching its development in 1963 until they finally succeeded in producing it in 1967 when they launched the chair on the market. The success was immediate: an affordable, stackable, modern product with bright colors and sensual curves that made it adaptable to any environment. And they did not yet know that these qualities would be maintained fifty years later. After experimenting with various plastics during the first years of its commercialization, in 1979, it began to be manufactured in rigid polyurethane foam with a satin finish. This version became known as the Panton Chair Classic. From 1999, Vitra also began to manufacture a version using polypropylene of various colors, cheaper than the previous one and with a matte finish. The S-shape in which the seat, backrest, and legs are a continuous line is the great success of this cantilevered design that, after fifty years, remains a true bestseller even today.