Verner Panton: I like you.

May 22, 2009 § 7 Comments

5 reasons why I like this Mr. Panton:

  1. His use of colour, colour, colour.
  2. During the 1950s, he customized a Volkswagen into his mobile studio.
  3. The Flying chair & the Living Tower.
  4. When he was a kid in his tiny village of Fünen, he wanted to become a artist, despite being not very talented at drawing/painting.
  5. They called him an enfant terrible.


Went for the Verner Panton exhibition last Saturday at the National Museum of Singapore (NMS.. I always get it wrong and type NSM..never mind) with Sharyn.

We were invited for the curator’s tour  and having a curator  – Hwei Lian, in our case – sure saves you a lot of reading. It’s rather fascinating. They’re walking, talking, breathing encyclopedias. How they manage to store that many dates in their memory beats me. Then again, I was never a history student. And then again, Hwei Lian might be an exceptionally good curator.

Anyway. Coming back to the exhibition:

[In a nutshell]

  • Big? Not really.
  • Comprehensive? Pretty much.

They had sections on his furniture, lighting, interiors and textiles/pattern.

  • Worth the money? For $6, yes.

Especially if you’re a furniture or pop art/op art fan. I felt like I wanted to run out to buy everything on display and redecorate my room. And I would. If I could.

FlowerPot Lamps

FlowerPot Lamps

I liked the exhibition. I suspect it has to do with the colours – which explains why I loved the Christian Lacroix exhibition too. Me, I’m easy to please.

Plus I feel you’ve got to hand it to Verner Panton for sticking with his ideas of bright, imaginative furniture and interior decor, particularly when he hailed from a Scandinavian region (Denmark, to be exact). I’m guessing he had his fair share of detractors when he started out since Scandinavia Design was/is known for its minimalistic and functional style. The world sure benefited from him believing in his designs and letting his creativity romp free.

The Panton Chair

The Panton Chair

Panton often incorporated playful and futuristic elements into his designs. He took legs away from the chair when he designed the Panton chair, choosing to form it from a single piece of plastic. He designed full fantastical interiors of buildings, such as: the Spiegel Publishing house in Hamburg (1969); his own villa in Basel Binningen; and of course, the Phantasy Landscape shown in the ‘Visionary 2’ on the Bayer boat, which is the backdrop for arguably the most iconic photo of Panton’s work.

The Fantasy Landscape, Visiona 2 (©Panton Design, Basel)

The Phantasy Landscape, Visiona 2 (©Panton Design, Basel)

I agree with Ingrid that it would have been wonderful to have been able to wander through rooms after rooms filled with Panton’s work, which was what one exhibition overseas had done. However, that apparently was done when Panton was still alive and able to oversee it, and I guess we all know it’s hard for traveling exhibitions to be as lavish, given how tedious/painstaking it must be to bring over originals that run the transit risk of damage. Perhaps the owner museum or collector couldn’t bear to loan them out. Or perhaps there were budget constraints.Whatever it is, I’m just glad NMS is holding more diverse and to a certain extent, ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the big exhibitions used to come once or twice a year, and now, there’s always at least 1 ongoing.

(Yay, museums.)

So, if you’re keen to take a walk through the partial section of the Fantasy Landscape they’ve recreated here and see his works in person, the Verner Exhibition is on till the 12 July 2009, at NMS. Ticketing details are here. There are also 2 upcoming curator tours on the 12 June & 3rd July.

By the way you’ll have to take off your shoes for the Phantasy Landscape. And yes, that’s the only interior that’s been recreated. But at least there’s one. They’ll give you blue, disposable feet-shoddings (okay, I couldn’t think of any other term) so you can feel like a smurf while you pad through a room you only thought you’d experience in your weed-infused mind.

Yup, that colourful. And curvy-wurvy. And aaahh.Nice.

click here for more photos



Verner Panton
The official reference portal. Full of visuals of his work and a timeline on him.

Design Museum Collection
Interesting write-up on Verner Panton

Photographs of the spaces/interiors that Panton designed. You won’t see them recreated at NMS, but you’ll recognise a number of the lightings and seatings.


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