From the early 1950s, Panton had dreamt of making a stackable, cantilevered plastic chair all in one piece. In 1956, he designed the S chair which can be considered a forerunner of the Panton chair. He saw it as an item of furniture in which the back, seat, and legs were made of the same material and in one continuous piece. It was first produced in 1965.Panton made a series of sketches and design drawings for the Panton chair in the 1950s. In 1960, he created his first model, a plaster-cast, in collaboration with Dansk Akrylteknik. In the mid-1960s, he met Willi Fehlbaum, who, unlike many other producers, was fascinated with the drawings of his legless chair in plastic rather than wood, the favored material of the times. Working closely with Fehlbaum, Panton produced a cold-pressed model using polyester strengthened with fiberglass. For the first time, an entire chair had been designed in one piece, without any legs. It became known as a free-swinger.
The first rather heavy model, which required substantial finishing work, was subsequently improved and adapted to industrial production using thermoplastic polystyrene which led to a marked reduction in cost. In 1968, Fehlbaum, from Vitra, initiated serial production of the final version which was sold by the Herman Miller Furniture Company. The material used was Baydur, a high-resilience polyurethane foam produced by Bayer in Leverkusen, Germany. It was varnished in seven colors.In 1979, however, production was halted as it became apparent that polystyrene was not sufficiently durable and began to look shabby over time. Four years later, the model was again produced as the Panton chair Classic, this time in the rather more expensive polyurethane structural foam. Finally, in 1999, Vitra used polypropylene for manufacturing the Panton plastic chair in a variety of colors.Over the years, the Panton chair, initially known as Panton’s S chair, has been widely exhibited in Denmark and abroad.
It currently forms part of the permanent collections some of the world’s most famous design museums including, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, London’s Design Museum, Berlin’s German Historical Museum and Copenhagen’s Danish Museum of Art & Design. This orange stacking chair is a first edition and weighs 11 kg.
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