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Harry Bertoia Chairs and Seating

Wired up for a Harry Bertoia chair from his welded collection? A series of meshed chairs and distinctive frames surprised us when Harry Bertoia designed for Knoll a chair made of; you got it—wire.Bertoia's first creation was the 420 Side Chair; strikingly handsome, it's always been an icon of mid-century modern design, followed shortly by a springy feel of more welded wires. The iconic vintage Bertoia Diamond Chair and the tall back Bird Chair formed part of the famed Bertoia Collection, sculptural and intricate yet airy with an enduring construction. Encouraged by Hans and Florence Knoll, they gave him a studio in their Knoll factory; they simply gave him the freedom to explore whatever his heart desired and, if he arrived at something of interest, to let them all. Bertoia wasn't a man of research. he said: "my feelings had to come from within" Praised for his other creative pursuits, it is said he designed the wedding ring for Charles and Ray Eames. Italian-born American artist Harry was a gifted metalworker; try his comfy wire creations out for yourself, you won't regret it.Explore our curated collection of vintage Bertoia chairs below.

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Who was Harry Bertoia?

For all the wire chair fanatics and design addicts out there, there may be some confusion about the Harry Bertoia wire chair vs. the Eames wire chair. In 1943, convinced by designers Charles and Ray Eames, Bertoia moved to Venice, California, to help develop their ply pieces. They knew Bertoia was a metal genius after seeing his work at Michigan's Cranbrook Academy of Art. Bertoia was in charge of the studio and had already mastered soldering. However, Charles wanted to progress his skills and sent him to learn welding at Santa Monica College. While part of the Eames team, he developed some drawings and models for a wire chair, collaborating with Herman Miller, Charles and Ray Eames released their first wire DKR chairs in 1951. Bertoia was a year late. Frustrated for not being recognised for his contribution to the plywood and metal DCM design and his pursuit to produce more art pieces, Bertoia immediately quit.

Florence Knoll, an old friend from Cranbook, encouraged Bertoia to come on board at their Knoll factory where they allowed him to build a simple studio and simply gave him the freedom to explore and develop his craft without rules and constraints. He arrived at something of interest: the Bertoia diamond chair.

The design took two years to develop, and this would be both a curse and a blessing in disguise. Miller instantly filed a lawsuit against Knoll; the chair was too comparable to Eames's design. Miller won and was awarded intellectual property rights to produce the wire chair. Thankfully Bertoia's creativity would stand firm against Eames's design. Bertoia was able to modify his chair to give it a distinct floating-in-air feel as if space passed right through it. To help propel Bertoia's design further, Knoll had a strong textile department; seizing the opportunity to add a touch of difference, they created a thin leather seat pad to complement the Bertoia diamond chair. This contrast made it an immediate favourite with designers and architects alike. Bertoia worked for Knoll for a small monthly allowance; however, Knoll rewarded Bertoia with a USD 20,000 payment praising him for his design. Today the diamond chairs are still Knoll's best-sellers and form part of the famous vintage Bertoia chairs collection.

More Harry Bertoia chairs and his legacy

Italian-born, American-based Harry designed an entire collection of iconic wire chairs for Knoll and completed more than 50 public sculptures and jewellery pieces, including Ray Eames' wedding ring. This late industrial designer and sculptor was the ultimate visionary renaissance man and quintessential craftsman and always uncovered a better way of doing things, one of the keys to his success. Discover a sensual and sculptural Harry Bertoia chair design, expressed in delicate fine wirework or his series of vibrant nests. Vinterior puts the modern touch on vintage appeal.

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