"If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture. Space passes right through them." – Harry Bertoia
Hello, it’s Erika from small shop with our 14th edition of "Design Under the Influence"! Today I wanted to share a little bit about the man behind one of the most iconic chairs around: the Bertoia chair.
Like Saarinen, Bertoia was a sculptor by trade. It comes as no surprise that he taught metal working and industrial design at an art college in Michigan. He was often brought in to collaborate with Eames and Saarinen on their projects as well. And you probably didn’t know that he also was a jewelry designer, even creating the wedding rings worn by Charles and Ray Eames.
But he struck designer gold with his introduction of industrial wire mesh in his collection for Knoll in 1952. So much so, his commissions allowed him to devote himself fully to his first love: sculpture. He eventually went on to explore how metal can affect and produce sound, creating "sounding sculptures" like large wind chimes. His pieces can be found at museums and sculpture galleries in Chicago, Brooklyn, Honolulu, Philadelphia, Dallas, Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, and the Smithsonian American Museum of Art in Washington D.C. Go check them out for yourself — I hear the installations at Chicago’s Aon Center and the Chicago Botanic Garden are supposed to be quite an experience!
Bertoia received awards from the American Institute of Architects in 1973 and the American Academy of Letters in 1975. Yet even today, we are still using his innovative forms in so many types of rooms. Like the Platner and Saarinen collections, these iconic pieces can stand alone or be paired with just about any furniture style, creating an instantly eclectic space:
via wit and delight
Marie Olsson Nylander
Photographed by Douglas Friedman
Photographed by Pierre-Jean Verger
Don’t you love the kids’ chair version too? Easy way to add this chic piece of design history to your space (*like I did!).
For more on the man and the legacy he leaves behind, please visit: www.harrybertoia.org
Top image: Mikel Irastorza via Nuevo Estilo