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As one of many seats designed by Harry Bertoia, from filigree steel wire mesh, the Diamond Chair from 1952 is perhaps the the most refined. And certainly the most successful member of the collection. Equally as impressive as the chair's legendary diamond form is the design, based as it is on a highly complex process in which the steel wire is hand drawn and welded.
Harry Bertoia (March 10, 1915 - November 6, 1978), was an Italian-born American artist, sound art sculptor, and modern furniture designer. At the age of 15, he traveled from Italy to Detroit to visit his older brother, however he chose to stay and enrolled in Cass Technical High School, where he studied art and design and learned the art of handmade jewelrymaking. In 1938 he attended the Art School of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, now known as the College for Creative Studies. The following year in 1937 he received a scholarship to study at the Cranbrook Academy of Art where he encountered Walter Gropius and Edmund N. Bacon for the first time.
Opening his own metal workshop in 1939, he taught jewelry design and metal work. Later, as the war effort made metal a rare and very expensive commodity he began to focus his efforts on jewelry making. Later in 1943, he married Brigitta Valentiner, and moved to California to work at the Molded Plywood Division of the Evans Product Company. He worked for them until the war ended in September 1945.
In 1950, he moved to Pennsylvania, to establish a studio, and to work with Hans and Florence Knoll. (Florence was also a Cranbrook Graduate). During this period he designed five wire pieces that became known as the Bertoia Collection for Knoll. Among them the famous "Diamond chair" a fluid, sculptural form made from a molded lattice work of welded steel.
In Bertoia"s own words,"If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture. Space passes right through them."
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