Danish designer Verner Panton might be synonymous with a handful of iconic designs, but a comprehensive exhibition in New York City is reiterating just how wide-reaching his design legacy is. R & Company, the first gallery in the United States to showcase Panton’s work back in 2001, has transformed its Tribeca space to showcase Panton’s singular approach to form, colour and material, 20 years later. With nearly 50 objects on display, which have been collected over the course of three years, the exhibition invites visitors into Panton’s bold and playful world, with rare and iconic lamps, textiles, chairs and other furniture designs all on display.
Collectible designs by Verner Panton
R & Company was inspired to stage the exhibition in an effort to revive the market for collecting Panton works, which has been dormant for many years due to the difficulty in tracking down original pieces. The exhibition not only showcases Panton’s flair for colour, forward-thinking approach to mass production and his experiments with light and form, but also his all-encompassing approach to using pattern, colour and texture to evoke a mood and aura – all going against the grain of traditional Scandinavian wood craftsmanship.
‘In many ways we take for granted what Panton achieved in his career,’ says Zesty Meyers, principal at R & Company. ‘When he first opened his studio in the 1950s, no one was working with curved forms and bold colour, layering patterns, and breaking functional objects out of their most rigid and recognisable forms and materials. He had an incredible vision that was grounded in deep intellectual theory about the importance of imagination, play, and feeling within our everyday contexts. Today, we understand these experiences as common, which is a testament to his success and importance. There isn’t a designer that works in colour that hasn’t been influenced by Panton, whether consciously or subconsciously. Now, we are once again bringing into view the vast diversity and significance of his work.’
Verner Panton lighting designs
R & Company’s showcase focuses on Panton’s lighting designs, which each uphold the designer’s philosophy of obscuring the lightbulb in order to heighten the experience of form, material and quality of light. With more than a dozen examples of his hanging and wall-mounted lamps, including the sculptural ‘Fireball’ lamp that was never produced and several versions of his colourful ‘Wonderlamp’, the exhibition sheds light on Panton’s ability to toe the line between form and function, even back then. Set against textiles and carpets that haven’t been seen for years, as well as a rare sofa that Panton designed for Thonet, which is on view in its original fabric, the dynamic range of works captures his legacy in a whole new light.
‘With this exhibition, we are creating a space of escape and respite – a place where the imagination can wander, even if briefly, away from the stresses outside. This is very much in alignment with Panton’s vision, to produce objects and environments to excite, inspire, and compel people,’ says Evan Snyderman, principal at R & Company.
‘This is also particularly meaningful for us. We opened our first dedicated Panton show just after 9/11 on 4 October 2001. We were amazed by the number of people that navigated the many obstacles to see the show at our Franklin Street space, which was in Zone 1, the highest security area of the city. But we believe fully that it was the richness of the Panton experience that drove them to see it. We find ourselves again in a difficult moment and we’re thrilled to offer this exhibition as a place for people to come and be present and connect with these extraordinary works.’
‘Verner Panton’ is on view at R & Company, 5 October 2021 – 27 January 2022
R & Company
64 White Street
New York, NY 10013
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
Pei-Ru Keh is a former US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru held various titles at Wallpaper* between 2007 and 2023. She reports on design, tech, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru took a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars, actively seeking out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
Artist Villu Jaanisoo’s rubber armchairs backdrop a full-throttle Acne Studios A/W 2024 collection
Acne Studios’ creative director Jonny Johansson tells the story behind his A/W 2024 show set, revealed in Paris this evening, which reflected the collection’s full-throttle, biker-inspired mood
By Orla Brennan Published
This LED Mask by myBlend is sculptural, cinematic, and tech-forward
myBlend’s LED Mask is contoured to the face and neck, with pre-set programmes to treat different skin types
By Hannah Tindle Published
How Vanya’s set design went from stage to NT Live screen
As Vanya, starring Andrew Scott, hits the big screen with NT Live, set designer Rosanna Vize describes retaining the intimacy of London’s National Theatre show
By Hannah Silver Published