“It is very important to take into account the way a chair’s appearance combines with the person who sits in it. Some chairs look like crutches. And I don't like them at all.” - Nanna Ditzel
Styles are ever changing and there are very few artists and designers that tend to have staying power in popularity throughout the years. Nanna Ditzel is one of those designers that has been able to enchant with her designs and stand the test of time. She played an important role in the Golden Era of Danish design, and even among this historic mid-century period, her designs stand apart from many of her contemporaries.
Ditzel embodied the revolution of modern Danish design. Born in 1923 Denmark, she came of age during the Second World War. Post World War II Europe experienced specific needs for style and function. Living spaces were smaller; waste was unnecessary, new and materials of quality were required for production. During this time, there were few successful female furniture designers, but that did not deter Nanna Ditzel. She had an inspirational passion for designing furniture pieces that were both artistic and functional.
Ditzel began her design career after learning carpentry and earning a degree from the Danish School of Arts and Crafts and from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. She partnered with Jørgen Ditzel, her future husband, to create unique and iconic furniture designs. The Ditzel's “hanging chair” is today recognizable worldwide as a symbol of artistic creativity in the home.
While she is well known for her furniture designs and textile work, Nanna Ditzel was also a successful jewelry designer. Nanna and Jørgen worked with famous silversmith Georg Jensen to design unique jewelry pieces that reflected Nanna’s modern touch.
Upon Jørgen’s tragic death, Nanna was left to raise their three daughters and run the design studio by herself. She experimented with textile designs and incorporated these into her furniture. As she branched out into more creative endeavors, she collaborated with furniture dealer Kurt Heide, who resided in London. They married and Ditzel moved to London where they created a showroom for international design, called Interspace.
After her second husband’s death, Nanna Ditzel returned to Denmark and began working for Fredericia, a Danish design manufacturer. She designed famous furniture pieces like the “butterfly chair” and “bench for two” during this time. She also became involved in Danish art and design organizations, leading her to receive the “Order of the Dannebrog” along with several other honors toward the end of her exemplary life.
Manufacturing companies like Sika, Fredericia and Snedkergaarden still produce most of her famous furniture designs. To this day, her furniture pieces add a tastefully simplistic beauty to homes embracing the hygge lifestyle. Her work embodies the warmth and the timeless aesthetic that was so sought after by the Danish Modern style of the 1950s. The use of natural materials and soft shapes in Ditzel's work places her on the world stage for collectible design. As always, you should collect what you love and fill your space with those pieces.
Fitzgerald, Raphael. “Daring Danish Designer Nanna Ditzel.” National Museum of Women in the Arts. (2013). https://nmwa.org/blog/2013/05/01/daring-danish-designer-nanna-ditzel-part-1-of-2/
Hansen, Per H. "Networks, narratives, and new markets: The rise and decline of Danish modern furniture design, 1930–1970." Business History Review 80, no. 3 (2006): 449-483.
Nanna Ditzel Design. “About Us.” http://www.nanna-ditzel-design.dk/about.html