From the February/March 2021 Issue  

The Chair that Hugs

Writer Ren Miller

The 1960s Hanging Egg Chair makes a comeback

The Hanging Egg Chair, an iconic design that’s enjoying a resurgence in popularity among a new generation, can be used indoors or out, attached to the ceiling or a sturdy stand.

Whenever you seek refuge, the Hanging Egg Chair may be just the place to do it. The curves of the chair envelop you like a giant hug. The woven rattan design suggests you may be on vacation in the tropics. The plump cushion is perfect to sink into. And the fact that it hangs from a chain lends an airborne feel that separates you from the weighty cares of the day.

Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel designed the chair, an icon of Danish modernism, in 1959. Nanna Ditzel (1923-2005) studied cabinetmaking before enrolling at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. She went on to become a leader not only in Danish modern cabinetmaking but also in fiberglass, wicker, jewelry, tableware and textile design. Jørgen Ditzel (1921-1961) studied upholstery before going onto the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. The two met while in school and, in 1946, married and launched their own design studio. Sadly, Jørgen died when he was only 40, but Nanna kept their studio going and continued to work in a variety of media.

Her background as a cabinetmaker provided Ditzel with “a basic understanding of the elemental pillars of design, from the fundamental processes of its handcraft to the use of natural materials,” according to Sika-Design, the company that now produces the chair. “Ditzel took it a step further and developed her own identity and style. Her designs were both experimental and innovative, so much so that several of her designs were rediscovered decades later.”

Ditzel continued to innovate well into her 70s, becoming a leader in the renewal of Danish design in the 1990s. She received the International Furniture Design Competition Gold Medal in Japan and the ID-Prize (Denmark’s highest design honor) in 1995. She was elected Honourable Royal Designer at the Royal Society of Arts in London in 1996 and was awarded a lifelong Artists’ Grant by the Danish Ministry of  Culture in 1998.

The Hanging Egg Chair — not to be confused with the Egg Chair™ designed by architect Arne Jacobsen, another Danish luminary in furniture design (see “Tale of the Egg & the Swan,” Design NJ, August/September 2019, page 28) — enjoyed worldwide critical acclaim when it was introduced. Those of a certain age may remember fashion magazines of the 1960s and ’70s featuring models gracefully perched inside a Hanging Egg Chair. The chair has stormed its way back into furniture showrooms since marking its 60th anniversary in 2019.

Although the Hanging Egg Chair has many imitators made of various materials in a range of qualities, the official Hanging Egg Chair by Nanna Ditzel Design is made for indoor or outdoor use with rattan, a sustainably grown material that is strong, lightweight, flexible and durable. The cushions are covered with Sunbrella® and Tempost® fabrics that are fade-, mildew- and stain-resistant. The rattan comes in natural or black and the cushions in three neutral shades. The Hanging Egg Chair hangs on a chain suspended from the ceiling or from a sturdy stand. The chair retails for $3,488, the stand for $1,875. SikaDesignUSA.com, Nanna-Ditzel-Design.dk.