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A Verner Panton Summer Anecdote

From the Ugliest House in Denmark to an Illuminating Landmark

What is most important, form or colour? ‘Colour!’ declared the Danish architect and designer Verner Panton repeatedly throughout his active career as the author of a vivid range of bright interiors, lamps, accessories and furniture. Colours meant everything to Verner Panton, and he understood exactly how the nuances of different hues affect people’s moods and the ambience of specific spaces. His proven experience and sophisticated use of colours once even inspired him to turn an ugly building into an illuminating landmark.

In 1972 Verner Panton and his wife, Marianne, decided to buy a summer residence in Denmark. While living in Switzerland, they longed for a place in Verner’s home country where they could spend the long summer days.

Verner and Marianne had once visited a house in Hornbæk, a very attractive summer resort on the northern coast of Seeland with a breathtaking view of the Kattegat and the shores of Sweden in the distance. When the couple heard that this house was for sale, they immediately asked their lawyer to buy it for them.

A short time later Verner and Marianne went to see their new home. It was a grey and rainy day in March, and Verner was shocked to discover that the house did not look at all like he remembered it. He thought to himself: ‘This must be the ugliest house in Denmark!’. By now in a very bad mood, Verner stuck his hands deep into his coat pockets and left without a word for a two-hour walk. By the time he returned, Verner had gained a new perspective on the situation and said to his wife: ‘We have two options: either we sell it – or we turn it into a really crazy house.’

The decision was made, and an adventurous transformation took place. The façade was painted in a vivid grass green with red doors, while the window frames were the shades of the room interiors. Indoors, every room got its own colour, such as red, blue, orange and violet. Soft red and orange rya rugs spread across the floors, the walls were painted in strong, bright tones, and the curvy furnishings and lamps were mostly Panton’s own designs.

From being a sad and dull grey structure, the house now illuminated the landscape. Soon amateur sailors started to use it as a landmark, as it was visible from miles away even in bad weather.

Naturally, the Nordic neighbours were rather unhappy with this exotic-looking home, and the association of local landowners met to lodge an official protest. Fortunately, even though everyone voted in favour, no one wanted to sign the complaint and as time went by, they got used to the spectacular sight.

Later Verner Panton changed this summer home to a sky blue colour. The garden gate was painted yellow and the thick trunk of the Weeping Willow tree was given an orange tone.

The ‘ugliest house’, which had become an illuminating landmark, remained a beloved summer residence for the Panton family for 20 years – and many joyful summers were spent in the north with their daughter Carin, family and friends.


Publication date: 18.8.2020
Author: Stine Liv Buur with Carin Panton
Images: © Verner Panton Design AG