Nanna Ditzel's Way of Shapes

On a crisp September morning in Copenhagen, we visited Dennie Ditzel, daughter of Nanna Ditzel—one of Danish design’s most iconic figures. In the family-run design studio, Dennie spoke to us on her mothers revolt against the established way of conceiving mid-century furniture.

Story and images by Nana Hagel


Nanna Ditzel was not only strikingly ambitious, but progressive and forward-looking for her time. Highly occupied with our ways of sitting, she believed comfortable furniture paved the way for new ways of thinking and living.

“Nanna was convinced that our best thoughts come when being in a comfortable position, almost lying down.” explains Dennie Ditzel, Nanna’s eldest daughter as she moves around the Copenhagen studio from where she now foresees her mother’s design legacy. Nanna Ditzel’s beliefs did not only influence her work life, but also her way of creating a family home in Bagsværd outside of Copenhagen. As Dennie delves into boxes of original sketches and drawings, she remembers one episode in particular; one day in 1965 in Nanna Ditzel had an idea; she wanted to challenge our traditional way of sitting and interacting. The family’s typical living room arrangement—a sofa, two arm chairs, a sofa table—were discarded. In their place came a lounge setting occupying every inch of the floor; foam cushions in colored textiles of varying heights, channeling a casual and welcoming atmosphere. Ditzel’s so-called ‘Stairscapes’ were a result of her idiom, a life-long need to view design as not only functional, but also sculptural.

“With the Ditzel Lounge Chair, Nanna wanted to create a welcoming atmosphere for both the body and mind”

First drawn in 1953 in the post-war era, the Ditzel Lounge Chair was a result of an entirely new way of conceiving a chair. What had traditionally been a subordinate addition to a sofa arrangement now became an object in its own right.
“With the Lounge Chair, Nanna wanted to create a welcoming atmosphere for both the body and mind” explains Dennie, as she looks through Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel’s book ‘Danish Chairs’ (1954). Postcard-sized black and white photos of the Ditzel Lounge Chair showcase the chair from every angle—an innovative manner of perceiving a design at the time. The organic shape inspired by nature manifests the lounge chair as a modern version of the traditional easy chair, creating an intimate yet inviting sculptural piece of furniture.

Nanna Ditzel’s foresight embodied every piece of her design collection, making her pieces timeless and as relevant today as in the 1950ies. As Ditzel designs are celebrated all worldwide, the relaunch of the classic Lounge Chair dressed in a comforting and soft sheepskin combines Ditzel’s uncompromising study of comfortable sitting with her need for constant experimentation and evolvement; new materials transcend her design legacy into our time making them everlasting and comfortable. Along with her other designs, the Ditzel Lounge Chair stands as Nanna Ditzel’s revolt against the traditional Danish functionalism characterized by an angular and modular design tradition. As she often put it: ‘humans are not designed in nice squares so why should their furniture be’.

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Nanna Ditzel

Nanna Ditzel (1923-2005), with her postmodernism attitude and rebellion against tradition, became a leading figure in the renewal of Danish design in the 1990's, well after her 70th birthday. Nanna had a magnificent ability to transform her artistic dreams into very functional and purposeful designs.

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Ditzel Lounge

A welcome escape into spaciousness, the Ditzel Lounge Chair is a modern take on the traditional easy chair, offering a stylish seating solution for settings in search of intimacy. From private residences to more public venues, such as hotel lobbies and executive suites, upscale lounges, reception areas.

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Trinidad Chair

When designing the Trinidad Chair in 1993, Nanna Ditzel found inspiration in the elaborate fretwork from the Gingerbread Facades that she had seen in colonial architecture while travelling through Trinidad. Much like the facades, the cut-out fretwork of the chair triggers an interplay of light and shadows, creating a subtle sense of motion.

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