Heart Cone Chair
Denmark / Germany, 1959 / c. 2000
Verner Panton

Steel, stainless steel, molded plastic, woven wool upholstery
40½ × 26 × 35”

Verner Panton (Danish, 1926 - 1998) was trained as an architectural engineer at a technical school in Odense, and earned a degree in architecture from the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen in 1951. During the 1950s, he worked in the office of Arne Jacobsen, one of Denmark’s leading architects, as well as for various design firms, including Fritz Hansen, Louis Poulsen, and the textile firm Unika Vaev. He gained international recognition for a series of modern chairs that broke from the traditional chair form and he experimented with new materials and advanced production techniques, from tubular steel to bent sheet metal to injection-molded plastic.

Panton also served as art director for the Swiss textile firm Mira-X, and in that capacity designed many commercial interiors. He is perhaps best known for his designs for Visiona, a series of “floating exhibitions” in Cologne commissioned by German chemical company Bayer. These psychedelic environments in saturated colors combined Panton’s own textiles, wallcoverings, furniture and lighting to create an immersive experience.

The exaggerated shape of the Heart Cone chair’s back glances coyly toward traditional enveloping wing chairs, but its bright-red upholstery and playful form reveal a pop sensibility. Its curves and careful craftsmanship are emblematic of Danish mid-century design, while its bold spirit sets it definitively apart. —Cooper Hewitt

(Photo: Cooper Hewitt)