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A tribute by Fredericia to the 'Grande Dame of Danish design,' Nanna Ditzel
(L) 'Trinidad Chair'; (C ) late Danish designer Nanna Ditzel; (R ) 'Chaconia Chair'
Image: Courtesy of Fredericia

A tribute by Fredericia to the 'Grande Dame of Danish design,' Nanna Ditzel

The Danish design company honours Nanna Ditzel on her 100th birth anniversary, through a limited edition release of her 'Chaconia Chair' and new colour options for the 'Trinidad Chair.'

by STIRpad
Published on : Jun 15, 2023

Danish design company Fredericia honours Nanna Ditzel (1923-2005), a creative pioneer considered to be one of the greatest Danish designers of the 20th century, on the occasion of her 100th birth anniversary. As part of the remembrance and recognition, the brand is releasing a exclusive relaunch of her most iconic 'Trinidad Chair' with new colours, and the 'Chaconia Chair,' which will be released as a limited edition. Breaking rules, and exploring imagination, motion, and vision, were the pillars of Ditzel’s design philosophy.

Affectionately called the Grande Dame of Danish Design, Ditzel was one of the most innovative, significant, and dynamic Danish furniture designers, whose style never ceased to evolve throughout the course of her six-decade-long, illustrious career. A woman who defied design conventions, she was successful in leaving a lasting imprint, that of poetic levity and artistic innovation, within the Danish design landscape, owing to her numerous innovative and capturing designs that span centuries and disciplines. Ditzel studied under architect and designer Kaare Klint at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Denmark—Despite being influenced by Klint and his modern functionalism, Ditzel rapidly abandoned what she dubbed as ‘masculine’ ideas and instead, chased and validated 'softness' by employing rounded shapes, breaking away from the largely upheld, rigid and formal design standards. With her prolific production over many years, she experimented with bold hues, novel materials, as well as preconceived rules of space and design, defying conventional thinking. “If you study her back catalogue, she has designed almost everything we use daily, being one of the most versatile talents of her day. Nanna was the queen of design in her time, which is highly unusual,” shares Thomas Graversen, owner of Fredericia, and a close collaborator and friend of Ditzel.

In honour of Ditzel's 100th birth anniversary, her 1962 'Chaconia Chair' is being released as a limited edition, while the 'Trinidad Chair' will be launched anew in new colour options. Additionally, an expansive design exhibition by, and at Trapholt – museum of modern art, craft and design will be displayed at Fredericia's Copenhagen showroom. On view from April 28 until 3daysofdesign (that closed on June 9, 2023), a preview and re-creation of Ditzel's presentation at the 1962 Cabinetmaker's Guild show was made accessible to the public. Beginning in September 2023, the Trapholt museum will also present the largest Ditzel exhibition ever staged, replete with her whole body of work showcased in a sensory-rich setting of furniture designs, textiles, jewellery designs, and complete installations.

In Ditzel's own words—“A chair is for sitting in, but it also expresses age, eroticism, essence, human feelings, and dreams. While functionality must naturally be preserved, for me, chairs have increasingly become attempts to meet the challenge thrown down by all these other elements.“ Here, STIR revisits some of Ditzel’s iconic designs that are being brought back by Fredericia in her honour.

Trinidad Chair

Aptly described as a poetic chair design, the 'Trinidad Chair' pushed limits in its functional being. Caribbean Islands' vibrant folk culture, breathtaking scenery, and distinctive architecture, including its ornate gingerbread style and painted fretwork, served as Ditzel's inspiration for the Trinidad Chair. Also drawing from her jewellery design, she incorporated human shapes into the form of her chair, and added expressive ornamentations, making it all about the impression of the person sitting in it. The 'Trinidad Chair' was relaunched in May with new colours, including khaki, Nordic blue, and a delicate oak oil variant, all with brushed stainless steel legs, to mark Ditzel's 100th anniversary, in tandem with the 30th anniversary of the chair itself.

Chaconia Chair

The Grande Dame of Danish design created the 'Chaconia Chair' in 1962, which was subsequently displayed at the Cabinetmaker's Guild exhibition in Copenhagen in the same year, yet, was never put into production. The setting received high praise, being perceived and described as bold, forward-looking and ultra-modern, including the distinct 'Lounge Chair' being seen more as a sculptural object than a conventional chair, presenting her creative concept for a relaxed, modern living space with a well-planned, terraced geometric landscape in turquoise, white, and cosy Oregon pine. Ditzel was all about challenging conventions, by fusing furniture and space in a coherent setting, about liberating the body and allowing for easy sitting and reclining throughout the entire scene. The chair is being reproduced by Fredericia for the first time, in a special, 100-piece limited edition to honour Ditzel. Fredericia has changed its name from its original 'Lounge Chair' to 'Chaconia Chair' in honour of 'Trinidad Chair's history. Trinidad's national flower, the chaconia, honours the island nation where Ditzel drew inspiration from.

“Two steps forward and two steps back still means I’ve taken a step in the right direction,” Ditzel firmly believed. The grand woman of modern design continued to garner attention, at a time when the majority had long retired, because she welcomed the inspiration that came from new materials and novel production techniques. “Sometimes, she took things further than you thought you could do technically. She was taught as a cabinet maker but was truly an industrial designer, and she kept pushing until she got what she had envisioned,” adds Graversen.

Text by Ria Jha

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