Nanna Ditzel

As one of the only female designers out of Denmark in the mid to late 1900s, Nanna Ditzel (1923 – 2005) is renowned for her innovative design vision and methods of creating elegantly usable creations. Her training within practical education and craftsmanship allowed for a way of working that was problem-solving and versatile forms of creation. She was educated in the practice of both design and Fine Art, which allowed for unique ways of working and aesthetic crossovers. Her career began in the postwar years and her style came out of the Modernist techniques and aesthetics of the Nordic stream. Ditzel worked across the board, from jewelry to furniture to textiles and as such her final products were the results of a process of experiments and wide understandings of each material used.

After studying at both the School of Arts and Craft and The Royal Academy of Fine Art in Copenhagen, Nanna Ditzel graduated in 1946 with skills from having worked as a cabinetmaker previously as well. Along with other furniture designers of her time, Ditzel did numerous experiments with alternative materials due to a shortage in supply after the war. Her husband, Jørgen Ditzel worked as a textile maker and designer and as such, the couple worked together on various furniture pieces. She lived in London from 1968 to 1986, where she launched a furniture house in Hampstead named Interspace. Nanna Ditzel exhibited internationally and was awarded the Gold Medal in the International Furniture Design Competition in Japan, 1990, while she was recognized by the London Royal Society of Arts and named an Elected Honorable Royal Designer. In the latter part of the 20th century, Ditzel’s work became more self-assured and ventured toward the flamboyant. Her designs made use of Op Art techniques and began represent an intersection of art and design, which was reflective of her education and personal styles.

Nanna Ditzel, Trinidad Chair (first designed in 1993)
Maple wood, chromed steel and fabric, Fredericia Denmark

Nanna Ditzel’s Trinidad Chair is known to be one of her most successfully radical designs. The ways in which she incorporated numerous influneces into one streamlined and sophisticated piece speaks of her artistic capabilities. The chair was first designed in 1993 for the Danish furniture house Federicia, with various alterations and adjustments made to create a full line of different kinds of chairs. The fan-like backing of the chair’s body is directly quoting the gingerbread styled facades found on the houses in Trinidad. The chair, like the houses, allows for a play of light, form and shadow and thus creates an ever-interesting item for the home or office space. The materials used to create the chair work together in their lightness, allowing for a piece that is user-friendly and comfortable to sit on.