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Home About Designers Harry Bertoia
Harry Bertoia PDF Print E-mail
* 10th of March 1915 in San Lorenzo, Pordenone, Italy
† 6th of November 1978 in Barto, Pennsylvania, USA
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Born in 1915 in San Lorenzo, Italy, Harry Bertoia immigrates with his family to Canada in 1930 and later on to Michigan in the United States of America.
In 1932, Harry Bertoia is awarded a scholarship to Cass Technical High School in Detroit, where he studies painting and sculpture until 1936. He later studies a year at the art school maintained by the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. The Arts and Crafts Movement begins primarily as a search for authentic and meaningful styles for the 19th century and as a reaction to the eclectic revival of historic styles from the Victorian era to the "soulless" machine-made production aided by the Industrial Revolution. Arts and Crafts has an effect on movements such as the Vienna Workshops (Wiener Werkstätte), German Work Federation (Deutscher Werkbund) and Bauhaus.
In 1939, Bertoia is awarded another scholarship, this time for the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, founded by Eliel Saarinen, father of Eero Saarinen, designer of the world famous Tulip Chairs and Tables. In the same year, he begins to teach there, establishing a workshop for metal works. Material shortages during the World War II forces the Cranbrook Academy to close its doors in 1943. At Cranbrook, Harry Bertoia meets Charles Eames, occasionally working together, they become close friends.
Harry Bertoia goes to California in 1943, where he works again with Charles and Ray Eames for the Evans Product Company, constructing furniture made of bent laminated wood.
In 1946 Harry Bertoia becomes an American citizen.
Bertoia begins working in 1950 with Florence and Hans Knoll, whose acquaintance he made at Cranbrook Academy. Florence, a designer and architect, founds with her husband Hans the company “Knoll International”, one of the most influential design houses during the 1950’s and 1960’s. As a pioneer of the “Knoll Planning Group”, she cooperates with the most prominent architects and designers of the time and produces one of the most popular pieces of furniture in the world.
The most famous furniture designs by Harry Bertoia are his Wire Chair and Diamond Chair, both designed in 1952. The chairs in metallic thread are designed as sculptures by studying the space, the forms and the metal.
Harry Bertoia is still regarded today as one of the most famous architects and designers of the Modern Movement.
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