Design 101: The Best of Harry Bertoia

published Mar 7, 2017
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(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Everybody loves a visionary: when you’re surrounded by a sea of similar designs, it’s always refreshing to be attracted to something that really breaks the mold. So when the world was loving everything mid-century modern and wood, one Italian designer crossed the globe to shake things up. Our latest essential designer you should know is the modern master himself, Harry Bertoia.

Growing up in Italy in the early 1900’s, Harry (born Arri) Bertoia entered the design world at a young age: neighborhood brides would have him embroider their wedding linens, and he surpassed all expectations during his private drawing lessons. Turns out he needed a real challenge, so he moved to Detroit in his early teens earn a degree and study at the School of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts.

But the design journey still had a few pit stops before furniture-based greatness: Bertoia actually began by opening a jewelry and metal workshop, where he also taught Charles Eames the art of bending and molding materials. He was soon after approached by Hans and Florence Knoll, who insisted that he start experimenting with metalwork out of their production facility. And the rest is history.

When his collection was released in 1952, it was a huge change from the solid wood designs that were popular at the time. His signature airy and industrial designs manage to be both strong and impactful, as well as delicate and sleek. His designs have been continuously produced by Knoll since the early 1950’s, and like with many other classic designers, Bertoia’s pieces are still coveted and used creatively in modern homes.

Bring a little bold and industrial edge with a Bird chair, or open up a space with the delicate style of the Diamond collection. However you choose to display your Bertoia, be sure to check Apartment Therapy Marketplace for the rest of our favorite listings.