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Icons at The Conran Shop: Panton Chair

An icon of 20th-century furniture design, the Panton Chair returns to The Conran Shop as the Panton Chair Duo, presenting a universal homage to the work of the Danish architect and designer Verner Panton in close collaboration with Vitra and the Panton family. To celebrate the release, we investigate the design’s rich history, and how this new take came to be.

The s-shaped Panton Chair, or Pantonstolen in its native Danish, was unveiled in 1959 after years of experimentation by its maker. Gifted with a unique sense of colour, shape and light, Panton worked under Arne Jacobsen before founding his own studio for architecture and design in 1955. The chair fulfilled his dream of a one-piece stackable and cantilevered design, and instantly made history as the world’s first moulded plastic chair, an idea first expressed by the 20th-century legend Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Although glamorous, its inspiration came from an ordinary, neatly stacked pile of plastic buckets.

The chair’s production wouldn’t have been possible without Panton’s close work with Vitra founder Willi Fehlbaum in the 1960s; the duo worked tirelessly to find the most efficient way of producing this legless chair, referred to then as a ‘free-swinger.’ Although manufactured by Vitra, the chair was first sold by Herman Miller, yet it took many years and several production changes before the Panton Chair found a material worthy of enduring through the ages.

Presenting an artful freeze-frame of undulating motion which set it apart from other furniture, the curvaceous chair was quick to become a symbol of the times while at the same time promising a new era of futuristic design. It became a staple of pop culture, even embracing a naked Kate Moss on the cover of British Vogue, a piece loaned to the magazine by none other than The Conran Shop. Today, the award-winning Panton Chair sits proudly in permanent exhibitions across the world’s most reputable institutions, from New York’s Museum of Modern Art to London’s Design Museum.

Breathing new life into the design and propelling it to the next century, Vitra worked closely with the Panton family to refresh it with five never-before-seen contrasting hues. This delicious new take follows the same production principle as the Panton Chair Classic, with a polyurethane foam body and glossy lacquered surface accentuating dark and light tones.

Recalling a vibrant rainbow of greens, blues, purples, pinks, reds, and oranges, the dividing line between the two tones emphasises the characteristic profile of the chair, each complete with a ‘limited edition’ label. The colour combinations reference the legendary Fantasy Landscape, which Panton created in 1970 for the Visiona 2 installation in Cologne.   

Launching exclusively and proudly at The Conran Shop, there are only 50 Panton Chair Duos available to purchase at one of our London Stores until 1st June; peruse the entire collection to claim your own piece of furniture history today.