Nanna Ditzel White Fiberglass Chairs (1969) - Set of Four

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Nanna Ditzel White Fiberglass Chairs (1969) - Set of Four

1,850.00 3,500.00

Nanna Ditzel is one of the most renowned and remarkable Danish designers of the 20th century. Ditzel brought her talents to bear on a staggering array of forms — she designed furniture, jewelry, tableware and textiles; and she shaped her pieces using an equally astonishing variety of materials, from wood and wicker to silver, ceramics and fiberglass.

Born in Copenhagen, she trained as a cabinetmaker at the Royal Academy's furniture school — overseen by the great craftsman of the day, Kaare Klint — and graduated in 1943. n the furniture program she would meet her future husband and collaborator, Jørgen Ditzel, and together they began entering (and winning) design competitions and exhibitions while they were still students. Nanna graduated in 1946, and that same year she married Jørgen and they formally established their design studio together. 

Jørgen had trained in furniture upholstery (his original intention to become a cabinetmaker was stymied by the trade's lack of left-handed tools), a skill that allowed their curvy experiments with chairs and sofas to flourish. Together they won numerous accolades, including silver medals at the Milan Triennale in 1951 and 1957 and a gold medal in 1960, and the prestigious Lunning Prize in 1956. But their life and work together ended abruptly when Jørgen passed away unexpectedly in 1961 at the age of 40. 

Ditzel’s early work (designed in collaboration with her husband) adhered to the classic Danish modernist tenets of simplicity, comfort and quality, and her armchairs, with their softly curved backrests are much in the spirit of Hans Wegner. Jørgen Ditzel considered himself to be a fabric maker and designer and in these early works, one can sense how, to some degree, Nanna is trying to both elevate and utilize the talents and preferences of her more tradition-inclined partner, but at the same time, assert some level of freedom for design and form over the tactile qualities that came to define furniture in the century prior (fabrics, tufting, padding, intricate stitching and carving, polishes, etc etc). Ditzel’s signature piece of that time is her “Ring chair.” Designed along with her husband, Jørgen Ditzel, the chair has a semicircular padded armrest encircles the sitter. Ditzel began designing in wicker in the years that followed and in 1959 produced the “Hanging egg chair.” The piece, suspended from the ceiling by a chain, became a favorite for fashion shoots and may be as iconic of the 1960s as Eero Aarnio’s plastic ball chair of 1963.

I think what is truly fascinating about Ditzel and perhaps most important to mention in the context of our time is how her preferences in terms of form, color and material seem are not limited by the social construct surrounding her perceived gender. In other words, once Jorgen is out of the picture, gone is textile, foam and to a large extent wood. Her work in the 1960's went head to head with Verner Panton (a fellow Dane), as she fearlessly embraced industrial materials, most notably fiberglass. This flamboyance, flair and ingenuity in terms of color, finish, material and form does not correspond to our contemporary notion of the mid-century woman. I dare say that if her fiberglass works, iconic in their own time and extremely rare and valuable now, were signed with a name such as Verner Panton, Joe Colombo or Wendell Castle, they would be as ubiquitous in the American design lexicon as an S chair, for example, available at your local DWR, or the molar chair, on display at MoMA.  

She was extremely prolific and daring throughout her later years as well. Some of her most well-known work came toward the end of her career, in pieces such as 1989’s “Bench for Two,” with its shocking Op-art finish, or the “Trinidad chair” of 1992, with it’s sunburst-like, cut-though backs. 

This listing is for a single chair. If you would like more than one, please change quantity. Thank you

Condition: Good vintage condition. Minor signs of age in the finish in areas, such as some flaking around bolts, one chair has chipped edge on back.

Item is available for Local Pick-Up, Local Delivery, Nationwide Cargo Transport, White Glove Service and International Shipping.   International customers please purchase through our 1stdibs store:   

https://www.1stdibs.com/dealers/otto-binx/

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