Design classics: Discover the Panton chair and the butterfly chair

Design classics: Discover the Panton chair and the butterfly chair


Meet this icon of the '60s, with organic shapes and bright colors. A design by Danish Verner Panton.

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, light, 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 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 innovative zeal and fascination with new technologies led him to design inflatable furniture -he was the first to do so- and to take plastic to new forms never seen before, as in the case of this flying piece.

In addition to furniture with organic forms such as the chair or the Heart - two other very famous pieces in his extensive production -, he also Cone or the Heart - two other very renowned elements within his comprehensive display -, 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 the same idea of merging all the elements of an interior, he created his famous Living Tower, an atypical seat composed of two parts that can seat four people at different levels. This proposal was already radical in the late sixties and continues to be so today.

The Panton chair symbolizes the optimism of the era in 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 looking at a pile of plastic buckets.

Once it was decided that plastic would be the material used 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 is known as the Panton Chair Classic. In 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 seat, backrest, and legs are a continuous line is the great success of this cantilevered design, which is still a true bestseller today after fifty years.


Created in 1938, the Mariposa chair is one of the best-known and possibly most copied designs of the 20th century. It is called BKF, a name corresponding to the initials of the surnames of its creators: the architects Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan, and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy. But its similarity with the countenance of a butterfly has made it popular with this name. So let's see what kind of environments and decorative possibilities this piece has, which is a classic in the history of design and even a cult object for some.

In a contemporary living room. The Mariposa chair fits beautifully in many different styles, although it is especially ideal for giving environments a bohemian and casual touch. It is a design that shines on its own, so even if you place it alone, its personality will fill any space. Its lightness and the wide range of finishes in which you can find this chair today will ensure you find the perfect model for your living room.

For a relaxing corner. Although the original is made of leather, there are a lot of models of Mariposa armchairs. This one with hair is perfect for Scandinavian-style spaces. If you already have a leather or fabric version and you like this one, to achieve this effect, put a blanket or cushions of hair, as has been done in the previous proposal. It is ideal as a reading corner, next to a fireplace, or next to the bed. It can also be purchased with a matching footrest or side table.

In a contemporary rustic bedroom. This room is a piece that can be used as a shoe rack, a nightstand for clothes, or as a relaxation and reading corner. Its light brown leather version is also ideal for rustic style spaces, giving them a modern and contemporary touch due to its metal structure. The natural and rustic elements such as wood and textiles in earthy colors contrast and combine perfectly with the more modern finishes of the Mariposa chair.

In an open kitchen with an eclectic style. In this room of a house in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona, the Mariposa chair in black leather and steel structure that has been chosen coexists harmoniously with the hydraulic tile floors, the ceilings of original wooden beams and painted white, other elements of natural and vintage cut plus industrial equipment in stainless steel. A clear example of the tremendous aesthetic versatility of this piece.

In a Nordic style living room. Despite being a design with a very Mediterranean character, this warm Scandinavian and eclectic living room looks great in combination with rustic wood floors, walls covered in a faded green with classic moldings, vintage lamps, and contemporary textiles, serving as a link between elements of different styles. The key is to choose your seating material carefully.

In outdoor spaces. The Mariposa chair is also available in weather-resistant fabrics. The lightweight structure makes it very comfortable for outdoor use because it is easy to transport and move around. Its design also offers the sensation of lying in a hammock. It is made with a structure of curved steel bars that support a cover (which acts as a seat) on which the body's weight rests, just like in a hammock.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.