Born in 1926, Panton shocked and revolutionised the design landscape with his radical, psychedelic interiors. His first Fun lamp and Panton Chair caused a furore when they were exhibited in 1964 at the Cologne Furniture Fair, and his Cone Chair had to be removed from a window display in New York after gaping on-lookers blocked the road.
Idealistic and irrepressible, Panton’s first studio was the back of a VW Camper in which he toured Europe with Happy, his dog. His greatest achievement was to take Pop Art out of the galleries, imbue it with funky functionality, and enable it to be placed centre-stage in people’s homes.
Despite winning many design awards in the nineteen seventies, Panton’s work post-Vietnam was seen as too idealistic, even naïve, and he was for a while knocked off his pedestal by more politicised designers like Mendini and Pesce.
The arrival of post-modernism in the nineties put a halt to all that. Peter Saville was photographed with a Fun Lamp in his Mayfair apartment and Vitra put the Panton Chair back into production. In 1995 Kate Moss graced the front page of Vogue sat skimpily clad upon it.
Panton was back, undeniably brilliant, a shining star in the design firmament. Panton: Light and Colour, a major retrospective of his work launched on the 17th of September 1998 at the Trapholtmuseum in his native Denmark. Panton died twelve days before it opened. Close.