Italian born Harry Bertoia emigrated to America in 1915. There he remained for the duration of his life, carving out a very successful career in the arts that has endured to this day. Perhaps the most notable aspect of Bertoia's legacy is his creation, the Bertoia Diamond chair.
The Bertoia Diamond chair is a woven steel construct that has become a quintessential part of Bertoia's functional furniture legacy. Bertoia designed the Diamond chair for Knoll in 1952. The chair won 'Designer of the year' award in 1955. Even though the Bertoia Diamond chair was hand-crafted, the chair was still a financial success, allowing Bertoia the funds to focus his attentions on his first love, sculpture.
Stylish yet purposeful, the Bertoia Diamond chair commands a timeless elegance demonstrated in its embrace of both the year in which it was created and the contemporaneous 21st Century, effortlessly, underlying its continuous appeal. Numerous replicas exist today, that have been created by those desirous to capture the unique shape of the Bertoia Diamond chair.
The Diamond chair unquestionably derived its name from its shape: the body of the chair is like half a diamond, and the intersecting steel creates more diamond shapes running across it. The industrial choice of metal for the base of the chair is counteracted by the soft cushion that accompanies the seat. The cushions are available in numerous colours, with black and white remaining the most popular. The Bertoia Diamond chair graduated to take on other forms such as the Bertoia Diamond Bar stool. The Diamond chairs design was just the beginning for Bertoia's vocation in interior design.
Born in Pordenone, Italy, at the age of 15, Bertoia along with his brother, boarded a boat to America, settling in Detroit. He enrolled at Detroit Technical College and Detroit School of Arts and Crafts where he honed in on his many natural talents. Bertoia did not limit his artistic bent to furniture. In his early twenties he relocated to Cranbrook to set up a metal workshop teaching jewellery design and metal work. While there he met Charles Eames forging a friendship that proved crucial to both men and their careers.
Collaboration with Charles Eames
In 1946 Bertoia followed Eames to California where they worked on a method of laminating and bending plywood. The partnership of Bertoia and Eames is seldom referenced, yet it cannot be overlooked that Bertoia played an important role in the infancy of Eames's career and helped him to create some of his most memorable and defining furniture.
Harry Bertoia's daughter said that her father's versatility was his great gift. While we remember him for his contribution to interiors, he did not merely create functional pieces for the home. Bertoia's experimental art form meant that he created a number of conceptual pieces, including those that were auditory, tactile and visual, meaning that his creations transcended from the functional to the sensory. Many of his conceptual pieces have been sold at auction to private buyers, while others can be appreciated in galleries across north America specialising in modern art.
A replica of the Bertoia Diamond chair can be purchased from our website or collected from our warehouse in Bristol.