Interior installation of R & Company's Verner Panton Exhibition showing two chandeliers and a wall piece
Photograph by Joe Kramm, Courtesy of R & Company.

R & Company Spotlights Decades of Verner Panton’s Lighting Designs

Nearly 50 objects including lighting, textiles, and furniture are on view at the Manhattan gallery through January 8, 2022.

Most images of Danish designer Verner Panton’s work are of his largely-vanished interiors, Visiona 1 and 2, the Astoria Hotel, and the Spiegel Publishing House—spaces so far-out that it’s difficult to fathom they existed outside of a hallucination or a Cinecittà set. One might see single pieces on occasion, but any assemblage of Panton is much more than the sum of its parts, currently made clear by Verner Panton, a new exhibition on view at Manhattan design gallery R & Company.

“We are creating a space of escape and respite—a place where the imagination can wander, even if briefly, away from the stresses outside,” Evan Synderman, a principal at R & Company said in the exhibition’s press release. Inside the gallery, visitors have a unique chance to survey nearly 50 objects spanning decades of work, specifically the designer’s lighting designs including elements drawn from the Panton’s iconic Gesamtkunstwerks such as the enameled aluminum Spiegel Lamp and the Ball Lamp from Visiona 2.

VP Globe pendant lamp. Designed 1970. Manufactured by Louis Poulsen, Denmark, 1970s. Acrylic, aluminum.Photograph by Joe Kramm, Courtesy of R & Company.
Verner Panton Design objects inside a gallery
Photograph by Joe Kramm, Courtesy of R & Company.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, Panton took a bold break from fine-wooded Danish design into the world of plastics and industrial materials. Throughout, there are iconic items like the Heart Cone Chair, or the brilliantly Seussical Modular Chair, a number framed by hanging textiles, which provide a taste of being immersed in an original Panton interior. But the exhibition also documents hinge moments in his career, such as the early plywood version of his polystyrene “S” chair.

There are rare pieces from limited runs such as the Beylerian Mirror and others that remain in production today, such as the Wire Cone Chair manufactured by Vitra. A few items such as the Thonet 420 F sofa radiate wealth but overall, there is an accessible material quality to a number of pieces in the exhibition. Take the designer’s Ball Lamps for example, which look like glowing mobiles from Mars, but its orbs are made of Cellidor—a plastic recognizable from its use in the Swiss Army Knife’s casing.

Verner Panton design objects inside a gallery
Photograph by Joe Kramm, Courtesy of R & Company.

The spirals of the SP3 Spiral Lamp are made of mirror-chromed plastic, an everyday material that still delivers a marvelous field of shadow and reflection from every angle. While today’s designers are rethinking the use of plastics in their work, Panton’s transformation of the materials of his time renders his agglomerations revolutionary in terms of craft, color, and atmosphere.

Verner Panton displays an impressive range of possibilities of the future past, brought to the 21st century just for a few months. As the designer is oft-quoted saying, “Most people spend their lives living in dreary, grey-beige conformity, mortally afraid of using colors. I try to show new ways, to encourage people to use their fantasy imagination and make their surroundings more exciting.” The exhibition makes clear that Panton is just the right tonic every time the weather or design trends again turn grey.

Verner Panton is on view at R & Company from October 5, 2021 to January 8, 2022.

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