Although my Significant Other would tell me that Verner Panton’s Panton Chair look ugly, like how she always said that the Zig Zag Chair looks terrible, I had always felt the opposite about these 2 chairs. What is common between us is probably that we found both chairs to be having similar “Z” Shaped profiles. Maybe she has this dislike for such profiles, but it is a different story for me. I fell in love with Cassina’s Zig Zag Chair for its single form profile. Similarly, I like the Panton Chair for the same single shell profile.
The Panton Chair by Verner Panton for Vitra.
Danish Architect Verner Panton, had been enthusiastic about the design potential of a then-new material of his time, plastic. Verner Panton aims to create an all-purpose comfortable plastic chair and the Panton Chair was borne. Panton finally found a manufacturer to produce his vision in 1963. The Panton Chair, developed with Vitra, was finally introduced to the public in 1967. A total of four versions of Panton Chairs are borne as plastic technologies advances. The initial version was made of fibreglass-reinforced polyester. The second version of the Panton Chair was produced using a complex, but reliable casting of rigid polyurethane foam. The third version uses injection-moulded Luran S. However, the third version proves to be prone to fatigue and breakage and was suspended from production. Despite being produced in three different types of material, the Panton Chair was never produced in Verner Panton’s original vision.
First Production of the Panton Chair.
It was strong enough to be seated at the tip of the back rest!
Verner Panton himself… But why wasn’t he sitting on his own chair?
It was not until recently, that his idea of a Panton Chair that is produced in a consistently dyed, tough plastic with a matt surface along with an affordable price tag was realised. Polypropylene is the key to realising this vision. Although the newer polypropylene reduced production costs, the polyurethane casting version is still in production for the design connoisseurs today. This version is known as the Panton Chair Classic. Will you pay a little bit more for a replica in fiberglass or will you pay less for a polypropylene version that is the real thing? For me, its needless to say, I will go original even if it is the other way round! Take a look at how to differentiate the real from the fake in the video below.
Finding the Real Panton (Video from Find me the Original).
Only the Original from Vitra has the embossed Signature.
The Classic with an Array of Colours.
Now, what makes a hard plastic chair potentially comfortable. Without reading up any design details found on the internet, I looked at the Panton Chair and begin speculating how it could derive that comfort that Verner Panton is looking for. I hypothesized that the comfort can be attributed to the cantilevered base, used in conjunction with a strong, but flexible polypropylene plastic which suspends the weight of the person sitting on it. The suspension from the cantilevered base would have provided some flexing which should “soften” the hard “feel” on the butt. True enough, I found websites attributing the comfort to the cantilevered base, although it was not explained how the comfort was achieved.
You can admire the Panton Chairs from afar and it still looks good.
A Classic Matching with another Classic (Picture from Elle Decor).
The Panton Chair does well in a Minimalist Environment.
For some reasons, the Panton Chair is a regular with Eclectic Design.
I had always like to read inspirational words from designers and artists as they had often present a unique view of things. I shall close this post with the words of another great.
“Most people spend their lives living in dreary, beige conformity, mortally afraid of using color. The main purpose of my work is to provoke people into using their imagination and make their surroundings more exciting.” -Verner Panton