Nanna Ditzel – Danish Furniture Designer

Posted on 23rd February 2011 in Danish Furniture Designers, Furniture Designers

Nanna Ditzel was born on October 6, 1923 in Copenhagen, Denmark where she choose to remain, studying and living there except for a brief time until her passing on June 17, 2005.

Known as the “First Lady of Danish Furniture Design” she first started studying cabinetmaking at the Richards School then continuing her studies in furniture design at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. This provided her the training to pursue her works which included cabinet-making, jewelry, tableware and textiles. She graduated and established her own design studio in 1946 with Jørgen Ditzel, her first husband. Among these varied avenues of expression she created unique jewelry pieces for Georg Jensen, furniture for Frederica, Kivist, Getama and others as well as textiles for Kvadrat.

Her creative expression was given to explore working with new materials and techniques incorporating fiberglass, wickerwork and foam rubber. Creating pieces that allowed for comfort and livability, a wristwatch for Georg Jensen was specifically designed to follow the contours of the wrist preventing it from twisting.

Some of her pieces were quirky, experimenting with split-level floor seating as well responding to the post war reality of smaller living quarters. She and her husband strove to produce furniture that could serve a dual purpose taking up less space such as the bed they designed in 1951 that tapered towards the foot. In that same year, they designed the “Basket” chair designed to be suspended from the ceiling. Before her husband’s death in 1961, they had become engaged in the design of children’s furniture paying particular attention to the versatility of the furniture to extend its use as well replacing screws and hinges with leather flaps and laces. “Toadstool” was released in 1962, which was a multi-purpose, stacking stool or table for children.Another quirky piece was the egg chair pictured above.

Remarrying, she established the international furniture house and meeting place called Interspace in Hampstead with Kurt Heide, while living in London from 1968 to 1986.

Traveling around the world with One Woman exhibitions in Berlin, New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, London, Stockholm, Milan, Glasgow, Manchester, Reykjavik and nationally in Denmark, she received the Lunning prize in 1956. Established by Frederik Lunning, this prize was awarded to eminent Scandinavian designers who best exemplified Scandinavian design. “Bench for Two” that she had designed for Frederica earned her the Gold medal in the International Furniture Design Competition in Japan in 1990. This particular piece with a bold graphic silk screen design was made from solid maple and aeroplane ply. In 1998, she received the lifelong Artist’s Grant by the Danish Ministry of Culture.

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