True story: While in Germany, I may have been hypnotized by a great Dane. It’s not the first time it’s happened and it probably won’t be the last.
I’m drawn to lighting like Elizabeth Taylor to a jewelry store. Come to think of it, it was probably the lighting that drew her attention to the sparkly shiny stuff in the first place. A good lighting plan makes a space feel warm and inviting, while focused spot lighting can entice you to covet desire things you didn’t know existed, directing attention to certain items or specific areas. I like it when the light fixture itself is the draw.
Case in point: Just as I hit sensory overload at IMM Cologne, I happened upon Verpan’s booth and slipped into another universe. I don’t remember much about what transpired there, but the photos on my camera roll offer some clues. It seems I was completely transfixed by Spirals:
I use the plural because there were dozens of them, suspended by filament, producing, reflecting and directing dancing light, constantly changing appearance as each person walked by. Perfectly lovely on their own, the beauty of the pendant is increased when hung in multiples. Designed by Verpan founder Verner Panton in 1969, of Denmark, Spiral is just as relevant today as it was back then.
Panton (1926-1998) was a graduate of the architectural program at the Royal Academy of the Arts, in Copenhagen. He began his career working for Arne Jacobsen, but found fame of his own in the furniture world. One of his goals was to create chairs without 4 legs. He succeeded. I know this because many modern designs are based on Panton’s models. His breakout moment came with the design of the Cone chair, circa 1958:
It’s the perfect chair for a mid-February post, don’t you think?
Several of his furniture designs are still in production, as are his light fixtures. Spiral is made of Cellidor, a highly reflective type of plastic that is 45% cellulose–a renewable resource, putting Panton ahead of the curve in using sustainable materials in his designs.
Spiral comes in gold, silver and white, but in actuality, the fixture tends to take on the color of its surroundings and changes with movement of air or occupants within a space. The pendants in these photos are all silver, but don’t look it:
Even the filament sparkles!
That fresh feeling Capiz chandelier you bought 5 years ago at West Elm? Panton designed the original Mother of Pearl version in 1964 using metal and chain:
They are Fun. Really. That’s what he named them and that’s why the style endures, especially when clustered together, a huge trend in lighting at IMM. They come in 1 to 3 tiers–the chains lead to another tier–and with metal discs in place of the MOP, as well.
Another favorite of mine is the VP Globe. Again, Verpan hung them together, increasing their importance:
I just hit “=” on my mental calculator and it seems you’re looking at close to $18,000 MSRP worth of global goodness in one photo, not including the random fixtures–I see you, Moons!–that photo bombed this shot. (If you come across one of Panton’s pieces on the Interwebs or at a yard sale, snap it up!)
There is something to be said for design that stands the test of time. In my opinion, planned obsolescence is not a great starting point for creativity. Verner Panton was the first to design inflatable furniture, way back in 1960, but I sat on them for the first time in 2006. They remain functional and relevant after all this time. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see your work carry such a legacy?
Another of Panton’s enduring designs is the 1977 Onion pendant and lamp. Once known as the YAMAGIWA, this organic form is at it’s best in pearlescent white:
That’s an $11,000.00 bag with two Onions in it. Does it make you want to cry? It does, me. I can appreciate how much trial and error it took to get the metal to bend just so, and that finish is beautiful.
So many of today’s products aren’t built to last. There were a lot of classic pieces like Verpan’s at IMM, but I also found it encouraging to see a few young designers producing work that will be sought after 50 years from now. I’ve saved them for another post!
You can find some of Verner Panton’s designs at Design Within Reach.
All Photos ©LivetheFineLife 2013, except where noted.