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Panton Chrome and Glow: the anniversary editions of Vitra at imm cologne 2018

Photo: Vitra

After many years of joint development work, Verner Panton and Vitra’s Panton Chair – the first cantilever chair manufactured from a single piece of plastic – was finally ready for series production in 1967. The chair, which was a revolutionary piece both in terms of design and manufacture, was first presented to the public at the imm international interiors show in Cologne in 1968. Fifty years after the original’s presentation, Vitra is issuing two limited editions of the iconic classic in 2018: the Panton Chrome and the Panton Glow.

Verner Panton had always been fascinated by mirrored surfaces, and over the course of his career he consistently employed a range of mirror effects in his work. This can be seen in his furniture and lighting designs as well as in many of his expressive interiors. With the Panton Chrome, one of the designer’s long-held dreams is now finally realised. Back in the early 1970s the designer explored the possibility of giving the Panton Chair a mirrored surface. Panton believed that the chair’s dynamic, sweeping form was perfect for a reflective finish, but the susceptibility of such a surface to scratches meant that realising this was technically impossible at the time.

Now, nearly 50 years later, a safe yet complex process has been developed, one that involves highly specialised manual craftsmanship. The Panton Chrome’s brilliant mirror effect is achieved through a metallisation embedded in several layers of paint. This complex paint system is flexible enough to accommodate the slight plasticity of the Panton Classic chair under loads, while also being robust enough to offer effective protection to the sensitive surface.

Through painstaking handicraft, five layers of paint containing luminescent pigments are applied to the untreated polyester resin shell of the Panton Classic, and this is then sealed with a high-gloss protective coating. The luminous pigments charge in daylight and give off a blue light when it is dark. The spectral appearance of the Panton Glow chair shining in the darkness has something mystical about it, and lets the well-known classic appear – literally – in a new light.