Harry Bertoia

Designer Dossier

Designer: Harry Bertoia, 1915-1978
From: Born in San Lorenzo, Italy, moved to the US at age 15.

Harry Bertoia was an artist, designer, and sculptor, best known for the metal mesh chairs he created for Knoll. He explored a multitude of art forms throughout his career, with an emphasis on metalwork. Bertoia devoted his life to experimentation and invention, with a unique approach to art and design that helped shape the Mid Century Modern aesthetic.

Bertoia worked alongside Ray and Charles Eames in California, where they were contracted to make airplane and medical equipment for the war. Their discoveries in molded plywood technology for the war effort were later applied to furniture design. After Bertoia's contributions went uncredited, he moved on to design furniture for Knoll, where he was given creative freedom and credit.

Facts:
• Honed his metalworking skills through jewelry making at Cranbrook, when metal supplies were short as a result of the war.
• Instrumental in the early development of the flexible plywood seat and tubular frame of the Eames chair.
• Studied the human body and human dynamics (what became known as ergonomics), which he applied to furniture design
• Invented Sonambient, or audio sculpture created by interacting with and manipulating metal sculptural pieces to produce different sounds and tones.

Quote: The urge for good design is the same as the urge to go on living.

Attended: Cranbrook Academy of Art

Known For: Most recognized for his contributions to mid century modern furniture design through his welded wire furniture, Bertoia also excelled in jewelry making, sculpture, art, philosophy, and the invention of the sonambient.

Representative Pieces Shown Above: (left to right)
1. Diamond Lounge
2. Side Chair
3. Asymmetric Chaise
4. Bird Lounge Chair and Ottoman
5. Dandelion Sculpture
6. Tonal Sculpture
7. Sonambient Sculpture
8. Collection of Monoprints
9. Sterling Silver Ring

Further Reading from Apartment Therapy:
Retrospect: Man of Steel (Mesh): Harry Bertoia's Famous Chairs

Bertoia on the web:
Harry Bertoia
Wikipedia
Harry Bertoia at R Gallery

(Images as credited above.)

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