If there is such a thing as a ‘king’ of iconic furniture, then the chair is most definitely it with most designers of modern furniture having their own signature chair designs. Their modern furniture spoke volumes about their passions and demonstrated their expert craftsmanship and versatility for manipulating alternative and untapped materials.
Verner Panton is well remembered for his functional, durable, stackable and colourful chairs. He died in 1998, admired as one of the most influential and iconic furniture designers of the 20th century. In 1955 Panton completed the design of his first chair, to fulfil an order for a restaurant in Tivoli, Copenhagen – the Tivoli Chair; a polished stainless steel frame, woven with weatherproof polyurethane reinforced cord. This chair had not been in production since the 70’s but has now been re-launched by Montana. This piece of iconic furniture now comes in chair, lounger and bar versions and is still as versatile as before, for both inside and outdoor use.
One other noteworthy piece of his iconic furniture was another chair, the Panton ‘S’, designed in 1968. Panton had become one of the most innovative modern furniture designers and began experimenting with unconventional methods, forms and materials. The Panton ‘S’ chair was the original, single injection-moulded chair and after a short period during which it fell out of favour, it is now back by popular demand.
Arne Jacobson, another Danish designer, left his mark on modern iconic furniture design too. Around 1956 he embarked on what was going to be one of the most memorable projects of his career. He was commissioned to design the furniture (as well as the building) for the SAS Royal Hotel Copenhagen.
This led to the birth of the Egg and Swan chairs – organic and ergonomic in shape, with striking, sculptured silhouettes, they epitomised the ethos of modern furniture and the contemporary design movement of the 20th century. They both share the same construction – a fabric or leather upholstered synthetic mould, with cold-cured foam for comfort and a four-arm steel swivel base, which was synonymous with most iconic furniture of this style. Now manufactured by Fritz Hansen, each chair produced has a unique engraved identity code to show its authenticity.
The Panton, Tivoli, Egg and Swan, as well as most other pieces of iconic furniture, seemed to lose their appeal after the 70’s and production ceased as newer fashions took hold. Now though, they are enjoying a very successful renaissance. Many manufacturers had the foresight to buy the rights to produce these pieces of furniture, as soon as it became clear that they had the potential to become mainstream again.