Panton Special 09.2008

Dear Readers,

With his visionary and ground-breaking creations Verner Panton was one of the most influential designers of the twentieth century. For Architonic it is all the more of an honour to have been able to create the official Verner Panton reference portal after two years of conception and implementation, in close cooperation with the family of the late Danish designer. The web portal has been publicly accessible since 5 September 2008, the tenth anniversary of Verner Panton's death.

In addition we met Marianne Panton and Rina Troxler, who worked for Verner Panton for many years, in Basle for a unique and informative interview.

Be inspired!

Your Achitonic Team

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"You sit more comfortably on colours you like"
The official Verner Panton reference portal goes online on 5.9.2008
He made design history with his visionary creations. Verner Panton revolutionised the way the Sixties looked at design, especially with his interiors. The man‘s modest and impassioned manner was in considerable contrast to the image of the enfant terrible which the international design scene liked to associate with him. Today, fifty years later, his designs are among the most popular icons of the 20th century. What is remarkable above all is that his conceptual and formal ideas are only now being fully adopted in architectural and design trends, and are being used as the basis for further development - made possible by computer-aided design and production processes. Verner Panton was ahead of his time.

Verner Panton with one of his Mirror Sculptures, 1965

5 September 2008 is the tenth anniversary of the death of the Danish designer, who spent a large part of his life in Switzerland. This date will be the occasion for the launch of, the official Verner Panton reference portal. Over the space of two years Architonic conceived, designed and implemented this comprehensive and unique reference portal on behalf of and in close cooperation with the designer‘s family and the graphic designer Robert Lzicar (STVG) from Zurich. It is in particular the farsightedness and decisiveness of the Panton family in digitalising Verner Panton‘s precious bequest and making it available to the public which is unique in the annals of the twentieth century‘s major designers in this way.
For Architonic it was a special honour to be involved in this project. In this important and complex task Architonic was in an ideal position to take advantage of the conceptual, technical and market-oriented knowhow acquired from the development of its own portal.

Verner Panton reference portal:

The clearly structured navigation provides a detailed and user-friendly overview of Verner Panton‘s work in its entirety. A special innovation in the web design is the fact that the navigation history functions not just via the Back button but also vertically by simply scrolling down the page. In addition to reference to the products still available today and examples of auction results, the web portal offers its design-loving visitors a wealth of pictures and texts which have never been published
"Anything but nostalgic"
An interview with Marianne Panton and Rina Troxler, Verner Pantons longtime assistant. By Nora Schmidt and Christina Barthelmie
They worked alongside him for many years: Marianne Panton was not just Verner Panton's wife, she was also his manager and confidante for the major part of his creative phase. Rina Troxler has now worked for the Panton family for over thirty years. She began working for Verner Panton in 1978 and after his death she systematically built up a comprehensive archive of his work together with Marianne Panton. We met Verner Panton's two companions in Basle for this fascinating and revealing interview.

  "Anything but nostalgic"  
Marianne Panton

Against all expectations the colour of your furnishings is relatively restrained, even if you do have lots of Panton furniture.
Marianne Panton: After Verner died I very quickly felt the need to leave the home we had shared together. It was much too big for me. In this new apartment I had to adjust for the first time to a future without Verner, and I didn't know what this future would bring. The last thing I wanted to do was to begin painting the apartment, so I've been living here for almost ten years between white walls, but surrounded by Panton furniture and objects.
Rina Troxler: If Verner were to enter the room he would throw up his hands in horror and shout: "Frau Troxler, bring me some red paint!"

You spent a large part of your life living with Verner Panton here in Basle. Why didn't he stay in Denmark? After all, in those days Scandinavian design was all the rage.
MP: That's very simple. In Denmark we didn't find any manufacturers who were prepared in those days to produce Verner's idiosyncratic and visionary designs. It may sound surprising today, but in the early days it was a constant struggle.

After completing his training Verner Panton worked at the studio of Arne Jacobsen. How did the established designers of Danish modernism react to Verner Panton's extravagance?
MP: Naturally some people reacted very negatively, but Arne Jacobsen was enthusiastic. He even travelled specially to Cologne in order to view the Visiona 2 exhibition. And until Verner's death Hans J. Wegner was a very close friend.

Visiona 2, 1970

Mrs Panton, you weren't just Verner Panton's wife and closest confidante, but to some extent also his manager.
MP: In particular at the beginning I took care of all the correspondence. I also went everywhere with Verner and took part in negotiations and so on. However, I didn't get involved in his creative work in any way. Of course I was able to express my opinion, but he didn't often listen to me.
RT: But that was the same with everybody. He always asked you what you thought about his designs, but when it came down to it he didn't want to hear any objections. So when we thought that something was really going too far, we looked for other ways to talk him out of it.
MP: I remember very well when he worked on Visiona 0 and 2. When I saw his designs and models and the carpet patterns on the walls and floor, I thought to myself: "For heaven's sake, this is going to be a scandal. After all, in those days beige and mustard yellow were the omnipresent colours. Fortunately my conservative objections were ignored, because when I saw the finished exhibition I thought it was fantastic.

It sounds a little as if the two of you were the ones who had your feet on the ground in the whole enterprise.
RT: Verner could be very impatient and short tempered, and then it was my main task to calm him down.
MP: Yes, he could be very undiplomatic. He then sometimes said: "I can't work with people I don't like." I often had to encourage him to overcome his feelings and that could be a real strain. Of course his designs constantly met with resistance. Verner couldn't stand it when people told him that his designs couldn't be realised but then failed to offer him an alternative solution.
RT: Verner spent years looking for a producer for the Panton Chair, and after production of the chair finally began in 1967, he never again accepted the statement that "it can't be done".

Obviously he touched a chord with people. Was Verner Panton aware that the time was right for a change in style?
MP: It hadn't been so long after the shock of the Second World War, and I believe that people were yearning for bright colours, but above all it Verner's personal vision that was right for the era.

Development of the Panton Chair at Vitra, ca. 1966, Manfred Diebold (head of development), Rolf Fehlbaum and Verner Panton

Was it then in the last analysis the cooperation with Vitra which brought the two of you to Basle?
MP: Well, it should first be mentioned that even for the Panton Chair we spent years looking for a manufacturer. Thanks to the Fehlbaum family and Vitra we were finally able to carry out this project successfully. In addition for other projects, we still had further contacts in France and Germany. It was therefore geographically very favourable for us to live here.
RT: In Germany companies at the time were much more ready to take risks when it came to design. A lot of energy and money was invested in developments which looked to the future, much more than was the case in Scandinavia.