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Nanna Ditzel

From HÅNDVÆRK bookazine no.4

In the late 1980s, when I central Copenhagen regularly,
I often passed through Klareboderne, the street that was home to Nanna Ditzel’s house; a tall, narrow, elegant building with a minimalist display in the large
ground-level show window.

However, my main fascination stemmed not from the aesthetic expression but from the knowledge that right there, behind these large windows, was the home and workplace of Nanna Ditzel,
the uncrowned queen of Danish design.

 

October 2023

Since the 1980s, Nanna Ditzel’s design expression has grown on me, and my fascination of her body of work was further stimulated by a visit to the grand exhibition at the Trapholt museum of modern art, craft and design, which is on display until 11 August 2024.

Nanna Ditzel (1923–2005) learned cabinetmaking at Richards Skole (Richard’s School) and later attended the School of Arts and Crafts, graduating in 1946.

In 1944, she debuted at the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition together with her future husband and the father of her three daughters, furniture designer Jørgen Ditzel. Their design collaboration continued until his death in 1961.

In 1968, she married furniture dealer Kurt Heide, who lived in London.

In London, the couple ran the international showroom Interspace together. Concurrently, Nanna Ditzel continued her own career. After Kurt Heide’s death in 1985, Nanna Ditzel moved back to Copenhagen, where she established the studio in Klareboderne under her own name.
Here, she continued her work, driven by dedication and curiosity and assisted by her staff and her oldest daughter, Dennie Ditzel, until her death in 2005.

If you did not already know, the exhibition makes clear that Nanna Ditzel was both feminine and sophisticated but had no problem going toe to toe with both contemporary male designers and the press. As illustrated by the short (highly illustrative) film clips shown in the exhibition, the press often focused on and asked questions about topics that none of her male contemporaries were ever asked to consider.

For example, ‘You have survived two husbands, how have you managed to move on?’

Her answer: ‘Well, over the years, you grow independent.’

The reporter insists, ‘But it can be tough.’

Nanna Ditzel: ‘Well, I never stopped working, and I never considered giving it up.

Reporter: ‘Is this because you look towards the future, rather than the past?’

Nanna Ditzel: ‘I believe everyone should be their own person, capable of living their own life. If the one person you would rather be with dies, it’s no good if you are incapable of communicating with the other millions of people on the planet!

I am a fan.

I am also impressed with her persistence in cultivating and refining her design expression and use of colours, which only became better and more clarified over the years.

The Ditzel portfolio, which is now managed by her daughter Dennie Ditzel, is extensive.

She has designed train compartments, children’s libraries and nightclubs as well as jewellery and utilitarian objects. She also designed the upholstery fabric Hallingdal from 1965, which is in production by Kvadrat. It is one of the most – if not the most – widely used fabrics for public settings.

Another commercial success is the Trinidad chair, which she designed for Fredericia Furniture in 1993.

There were several of the furniture designs in the exhibition that I would love to see going back into production, as it happened with the garden furniture series she co-designed with Jørgen Ditzel, which is now in production at Mater. Similarly, her Arkade chair from 1983 was put into production by Brdr. Krüger in 2020 – here shown in the photo for HÅNDVÆRK bookazine no. 4.

Who wouldn’t spend their last penny on her elegant rattan furniture? I certainly would!

Perhaps a project for Sika-Design, which already has several designs by the Ditzels in production?

Happy 100th birthday!

Da jeg i slut 80erne begyndte at have min gang i indre København, faldt min vej ikke sjældent forbi Klareboderne. Her lå Nanna Ditzels hus, højt og smalt og elegant med en minimalistisk udstilling i det store vindue i stueplan.

Dog var det ikke det æstetiske udtryk, som betog mig, men tanken om, at lige derinde bag de store vinduer boede og arbejdede Nanna Ditzel, den ukronede dronning af dansk design.

 

Nanna Ditzel (1923-2005) lærte snedkeri på Richards Skole og blev siden uddannet på Kunsthåndværkerskolen i 1946.

I 1944 debuterede hun på Snedkerlaugets Udstilling sammen med hendes kommende mand og far til hendes tre døtre, møbeldesigner Jørgen Ditzel. De samarbejde frem til hans død i 1961.

I 1968 giftede hun sig med møbelforhandleren Kurt Heide, som boede i London.

I London drev parret det internationale showroom Interspace samtidig med, at Nanna Ditzel fortsatte sin egen karriere.  Efter Kurt Heides død i 1985 flyttede Nanna Ditzel tilbage til København, hvor hun etablererede tegnestuen i Klareboderne i eget navn.
Her arbejdede hun med engagement og nysgerrighed assisteret af sine medarbejdere og sin ældste datter, Dennie Ditzel frem til sin død i 2005.

Siden 80erne er Nanna Ditzels formsprog vokset på mig, og min fascination af hendes virke er kun blevet større efter at have besøgt den stort anlagte 100års fødselsdagsudstilling, som kan ses på Museet Trapholt frem til 11. august 2024.

Hvis ikke man vidste det før, så erfarer man her, at der er tale om kvinde, som både var feminin og sofistikeret, og samtidig så let som ingen ting kunne bide skeer med både samtidige mandlige designere og pressen. Sidstnævnte fremgår af de små (meget illustrative) film som vises på udstillingen. Pressen interesserede sig for, og stillede spørgsmål om emner som man aldrig ville have præsenteret en samtidig mandlig designer for.

Som for eksempel: ”De har overlevet to mænd, hvordan er de kommet videre”?

Hvortil hun svarer: ”Med årene bliver man jo selvstændig”.

Intervieweren insisterer: ”Det kan være jo svært”.

Nanna Ditzel: ”Nu var jeg jo aldrig gået i stå og havde aldrig overvejet at stoppe”.

Intervieweren: ”Handler det om at du kigger frem og ikke tilbage”?

Nanna Ditzel: ”Jeg er af den opfattelse at man skal være et helt menneske, man skal kunne klare sig selv – det kan jo ikke nytte, at hvis den man helst vil være sammen med dør, så kan man ikke kommunikere med de andre millioner mennesker på jorden”!

Jeg er fan-

-og i øvrigt også imponeret over, hvor vedholdende hun rendyrkede og forfinede sit form-og farvesprog og kun blev bedre og bedre og tydeligere og tydeligere.

Ditzel porteføljen, som nu forvaltes af datteren Dennie Ditzel, er omfattende.

Hun har indrettet togkupeer, børnebiblioteker og natklubber, har tegnede smykker og brugsting og står bag møbeltekstilet Hallingdal fra 1965, som nu er i produktion hos Kvadrat, og er, om ikke det mest solgte stykke tekstil til offentligt miljø, så et af de mest solgte.

En anden kommercielle succes er stolen Trinidad for Fredericia Furniture fra 1993.

Flere af de møbler jeg så på udstillingen kunne man snildt drømme om blev sat i produktion igen, lige som det er sket for havemøbelserien som hun tegnede sammen med Jørgen Ditzel som nu er i produktion hos Mater eller hendes Arkade Stolen fra 1983, som i 2020 blev sat i Produktion hos Brdr. Krüger. Her fotograferet til HÅNDVÆRK bookazine no. 4.

Hvem ville ikke give sin højre arm for hendes elegante rattanmøbler? Jeg ville!

Måske en opgave for Sika-Design som i forvejen producerer flere af Ditzel parrets designs?

Tillykke til 100-årsfødselaren

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