Nanna & Jørgen Ditzel prolific, but little-known, collaboration with furniture manufacturer Poul Kold

Published on 8 March 2021 at 14:14

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s the Ditzel’s were the main designers for Møbelfabriken A/S Kolds Savværk and designed quite a few refined pieces of furniture, mostly made of high-quality wood like oak, teak and wenge. Most of these furniture were produced in small numbers, mainly for the home market and were little known internationally. 

"Characteristic of the dining room chair, model 111, is the beautiful curved backrest made of one piece of wood and the shape of the legs, square in the middle and round at the end."

Nanna and Jørgen met each other in 1943 at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, where both followed a course in furniture design. During their training, they jointly designed some pieces of furniture that they successfully exhibited at the 1944 exhibition of the Cabinet Makers' Guild. Shortly after their graduation in 1946, they set up their own design studio in Hellerup, a suburb of Copenhagen and started designing interiors, children's furniture, rattan seating and jewelry for various clients.

In the year 1954 they were commissioned by furniture manufacturer Poul Kold to design a range of furniture for his company. Poul Kold descended from an entrepreneurial family that had been active in the timber trade since 1888. In 1914 his father Martin Kold started a sawmill in Kerteminde, a coastal town close to Odense in Denmark. The sawmill grew over the years into one of the largest hardwood sawmills in Denmark and in the 1940s also ventured into the production of garden furniture.

At the time of the collaboration with the Ditzel couple, the Kold family owned both the sawmill, A/S Kolds Savværk, run by his eldest brother Hans Peter Kold and two furniture factories, Møbelfabriken A/S Kold Savværk, owned by Poul Kold and A/S Mogens Kold Møbelfabrik, owned by his younger brother Mogens Kold, in Kerteminde.

From 1954 to 1961, the Ditzels designed dining room chairs, dining room tables, an armchair, a ring chair, a children's high chair, a coffee table, a desk and garden furniture for Møbelfabriken A/S Kold Savværk. Their most famous design for Poul Kold is probably the Ring Chair or model 114. The chair was also nicknamed Sausage Chair because of the elongated round shape of its upholstered top rail. Their best-selling piece of furniture may well be the children's high chair or model 115, designed in 1954. The Ditzels designed the chair so that it could grow with the child.

One of the last designs the designer couple drew for Poul Kold, Jørgen Ditzel died unexpectedly in 1961 after a stomach operation, was a modular bench-like seating group with a low base of black lacquered metal. A very stylish lounge arrangement in keeping with the times.

My personal favorite designs are the dining room chair (model 111) and the armchair (model 113), both with a woven rattan seat. The beautiful walking stick they designed in 1958, is also one of my favorite designs. This walking stick was also loved by the well-known German designer Dieter Rams who used several of them.

More pictures of the dining room Chair, model 111 >>