Design Classic: Panton Chair

Function, form and beauty, all in one seamless curve...

Designer: Verner Panton

Details: Panton Chair, £210, The Conran Shop

Picture the early 1960s, a time of prosperity and optimism when forward-thinking designers dared to look to the future, reach for the skies and view the impossible as an opportunity. One maverick who, quite literally, broke the mould was Verner Panton. Determined to experiment with the material of the moment – plastic – Panton created a prototype for a chair that was to be as outrageously bold and innovative as it was simple.

Panton Chair, £210, The Conran Shop

While the flowing form of the single-piece, stacking chair that Panton created may look deceptively straightforward, turning his concept from prototype to mass-production was a different story. It wasn’t until 1967, seven years after his initial sketches, that the visionary manufacturer Vitra was able to refine their techniques enough to make the tricky cantilevring viable.

He used cold-pressed fibreglass-reinforced polyester to create the sensuous yet strong core. The result was, quite simply, a sensation. Coming to epitomise the Pop Art mood – bright, bold and unashamedly modern– it stood for liberation, featuring in one 1970s women’s magazine piece on how to undress in front of your husband. More recently, a pillar-box red version has been on the cover of Vogue, supporting a naked Kate Moss. It’s not often you get function, form and beauty, all in one seamless curve, but when you do, magic happens.

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