Nanna Ditzel (1923-2005)

Danish architect and designer, born Copenhagen; active Copenhagen and London.


Ditzel attended the School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, studying under Kaare Klint. In 1946, the year of her graduation, she married designer Jørgen Ditzel and founded a studio with him.

Nanna was already an accomplished designer; she had been exhibiting her furniture at the annual exhibitions of the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers Gild since her student days. Jørgen was a skilled upholsterer, and the two joined forces to solve the design problems of the post-war home, concentrating mainly on modular, collapsible and multifunctional furniture suitable for small spaces. They also experimented with wicker, creating the famous 1959 Basket chair, designed to be suspended from the ceiling; they also produced jewelry for A. Michelsen and Georg Jensen, and a popular high chair for Poul Kold.

The Ditzels were especially sensitive to the needs of children, and designed a number of small scale pieces for their use. These included a 1952 collection of furniture held together by leather laces and flaps, and the 1962 Toadstool seats and table. Jørgens premature death in 1961 cut short their brilliant collaboration.

By 1968, Nanna had remarried and moved to London. She became involved with the influential magazine and club Mobilia, along with her second husband Kurt Heide, Poul Henningsen, Gunnar Bratvold and others. She established her own company, and continued to design furniture, jewelry, interiors, household objects and textiles. She returned to Copenhagen in 1986.

Her recent work includes the striped Butterfly chair (1990), and the Tempo chair (1997), which employs a new and innovative adhesive technique. Ditzel's long and prolific career has earned her the designation "the First Lady of Danish Furniture Design."

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