Before Harry Bertoia made his eponymous furniture collection for Knoll in the early 50s, he was an artist and jewelry maker. He even made the wedding bands for Charles and Ray Eames. But once his gridded metal collection became a hit at Knoll he’s been known first and foremost as a furniture designer.
The most famous of the five pieces he made is, of course, the Diamond chair, a chair that’s more sculpture than traditional seating. In fact, Bertoia noted that “If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculptures. Space passes right through them.” As one of the most important pieces of furniture designed in the 20th century, it’s the Cooper-Hewitt’s Object of the Month for April.
Made from welded steel in polished or satin chrome or bonded rilsan, it’s scratch, chip and chemical resistant. Some of the pieces in the collection include cushions, which are affixed with snaps or feature stretched fabric, pulled taut across the entire front. I wish I could sit in one all month long, but until I upgrade my simple wooden Adirondack deck chairs to something of the midcentury variety, I will continue to gaze longingly at Bertoia’s masterpiece from afar. [ harrybertoia.org ]