Harry Bertoia, the Italian – American, was born in 1915 and died early at the age of 63. As a homo universalis his oevre encompasses sound sculptures, furniture, and jewelry design. Knoll historian Brian Lutz once said “Bertoia’s paintings were better than his sculptures. And his sculptures were better than his furniture. And his furniture was absolutely brilliant.”
From a young age Bertoia was friends with other prominent designers such as Walter Gropius and Ray and Charles Eames, and he regularly designed jewelry for his friends. They where designers at the mid-century furniture company Knoll, Bertoia famously designed their “Diamond chair”, a delicate and airy steel-framed chair introduced in 1952 and still sold today.
Florence and Hans Knoll traveled to California and encouraged Bertoia to move east and set up his own metal shop in a corner of Knoll’s production facility. Having studied with Bertoia at Cranbrook, Harry’s early workshop where he taught jewelry design and metalwork, Florence was sure that he would produce something extraordinary if given the time and space to experiment.
Although Harry only designed one series of production furniture, it is considered one of the most important and influential one’s of the 20th century.