Harry Bertoia

Harry Bertoia was a complete and gifted artist. Knoll historian Brian Lutz once said “Bertoia’s paintings were better than his sculptures. And his sculptures were better than his furniture. And his furniture was absolutely brilliant.”

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Harry Bertoia

Harry Bertoia was a complete and gifted artist. Knoll historian Brian Lutz once said “Bertoia’s paintings were better than his sculptures. And his sculptures were better than his furniture. And his furniture was absolutely brilliant.”

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Cranbrook Metal Workshop

After studying at the Detroit Technical High School and the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts, Harry Bertoia opened his own metal workshop at Cranbrook where he taught jewelry design and metal work. In 1946, he moved to California to help fellow Cranbrook alumnus Charles Eames develop methods of laminating and bending plywood. Bertoia’s contributions to the famous Eames chairs were crucial if not not well known.

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The Move

On the suggestion of Herbert Matter, who had worked alongside Eames and Bertoia, Florence and Hans Knoll traveled to California and encouraged Bertoia to move east and set up his own metal shop in a corner of Knoll’s production facility. Having studied with Bertoia at Cranbrook, Florence was sure that he would produce something extraordinary if given the time and space to experiment.

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The Bertoia Collection

Characteristic of the early environment at Knoll, Hans and Florence never demanded that Bertoia design furniture, but instead encouraged him to explore whatever he liked. They simply asked that if he arrived at something interesting, to show them. Needless to say, Harry Bertoia arrived at something outstanding. His iconic wire furniture collection, introduced in 1952, is recognized worldwide as one of the great achievements of 20th century furniture design.

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Carrying on the Legacy

Today, Knoll carries on Harry Bertoia’s legacy of innovation, inspiration, and beauty with the Bertoia collection, which has been in continuous production around the world since its introduction. In 2005, Knoll introduced the Asymmetric Lounge, a design from Bertoia’s initial experimentation that had never reached production.

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