Harry Bertoia

Harry Bertoia, born on 10 March 1915, was an Italian sculpturer, professor and furniture designer. He emigrated to America in 1930 where he started a career in the metal and jewellery industry. In 1943, he also worked together with the well-known Charles and Ray Eames at the Evans Product Company, where they experimented for the first time with making curved wooden plates that served as seating surfaces for chairs.

Diamond Chair and Wire Chair

In 1950, however, Bertoia opened his own studio in Pennsylvania, where he presented his Diamond Chair for Knoll International in 1952. This series of iron chairs became known as the Bertoia Collection for Knoll.

Bertoia was the first to introduce industrial wire mesh as a design material. He was into sculpture. You can clearly see this in his creations and designs. The Wire Chair, for example,  which Bertoia spoke about with so much love.

“If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, just like sculpture. Space passes through them.”

The Diamond Chair and Wire Chair were the most popular chairs in this series and they were already considered ‘iconic designs’ in the fifties. They are still popular. The Wire Chair is made of a welded and chrome stainless steel framework. The chair is decorated with an optional small cushion. There are were also wired bar stools made using the same techniques, which embellish trendy bars and clubs all over the globe.

His work prospered  very soon and he achieved success after success. These successes completely allowed him to concentrate on his other passion during the fifties: sculpture. This is why one of his teacher at Cranbrook Academy said about Bertoia: “It is regrettable that the days of the week are not twice as long, because he is also an experienced painter and woodcarver.” Harry Bertoia: a designer who did not excel in one, but several specialities.

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