Harry Bertoia (Italy 1916-1978)

“The urge for good design is the same as the urge to go on living.” Born in San Lorenzo, Italy Harry Bertoia is best remembered for his sculptures and furniture design.Bertoiaimmigrated from Italy to Canada and then later to Detroit, Michigan. Bertoia began his illustrious career in art with a basic drawing class he took while still in Italy. Once in Michigan, Bertoia studied at the School of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts later settling into an instructor position teaching metalwork at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. In 1943 Bertoiamade the move to Los Angeles to pursue work as a furniture designer. While living in Venice, California, Bertoia worked alongside Charles and Ray Eames at the Evans Products Company, developing new techniques for molding plywood. During this period Bertoia experimented and expanded his skills with a class in welding. In 1952, Knoll Associates with whom Bertoia worked with, introduced the Bertoia Collection of furniture. As a sculptor, Bertoia had often created standalone, abstract metal works. Harry Bertoia, thirty-seven years old when he designed the Diamond chair for Knoll, created an unusually beautiful piece of furniture. The Diamond chair and Wire Side Chair were strong yet delicate in appearance with the mesh wirework construction. The collection was an immediate commercial success and continues today to be a staple of modern design. With the Diamond chair and Wire Side Chair, Bertoia created an iconic, modern design and introduced industrial wire mesh to the world of furniture design. Bertoia’s body of work embodies the hallmarks of a deftly skilled, inventive and imaginative sculptor, deeply committed to exploring and understanding the relationship between form and space. With regard to his work as a furniture designer,Bertoia is best known for his Diamond chair and hisWire Side chair. Both pieces share an organic, human-friendly form that helped to shape the new look of modernism.

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