Harry Bertoia for Knoll, Bird armchair and ottomane, 1970’s
Harry Bertoia for Knoll, signed.
Bird armchair and ottomane in black lacquered steel wires forming lattices.
Armchair forming a hole for seat and with a high back standing on sleigh legs. Ottomane with a rectangular seat and also standing on sleigh legs.
Covers made by our workshops with a Kvadrat fabric, Tonus 4 reference, 0954 color.
Work realized in the 1970’s.
Dimensions : armchair : H 100 x W 100 x D 100 cm / ottomane : H 39 x W 62 x D 46 cm.
Reference : LS4075.
First edition from 1956 by Knoll. Armchair and ottomane created by Harry Bertoia that created them as light sculptures crossed by air. To arrive to this result of an extreme lightness, he studied space, shapes and steel properties.
Hand-crafted at the beginning with every wire hand-bented before to be welded. First collection with very few exemplaries before Bertoia and Bob Savage from Design & Development created an industrial and serial production.
Harry Bertoia (1915-1978) was an American Italian born sculptor and designer. He emigrated to United States in 1930 and was registered at the Cass Tehnical High School in Detroit where he studied art and design. He also studied at the art school of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts until 1937 where he gained a scolarship for the Cranbrook Academy where he met Walter Gropius and Charles and Ray Eames. He reopened the iron workshop and led it from 1939 to 1943 when the workshop closed its doors due to materials lack.
In 1943, he installed to Venice and collaborated with Charles and Ray Eames for the Evans Product Company where he created techniques of plywood bending until the end of the war. In 1946 he became an American citizen and moved to Bally near the Knoll company where he worked. In 1950 he opened his workship of sculpture and became a designer for Knoll Associates. His most famous furniture collection began in 1951 with his famous Diamond chair entirely realized with metal wires. It has such a great success than Harry Bertoia decided to only create sculptures : partially mobile stand artworks.
He received the gold medal of the Architectural League of New York in 1954, became laureate of the American Institute of Architects in 1973 and of the American Academy of Letters in 1975.
Harry Bertoia furniture mixed functionality and sculpture by his constant research on shape and space.
Hans Knoll, son of Walter Knoll, a Deutsch furniture manufacturer, founded in 1937 in New York the Hans G. Knoll Furniture Company. In 1941, he created with Jens Risom a collection of modern furniture realized with straps from military surplus. He hired Florence Schust in 1943 after she studied at the Cranbrook Academy and to the Architectural Association of London and after she met Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius. She did evolve the scandinavian style of the company to the International Style with modern shapes and materials.
In 1946, Florence and Hans get married and founded Knoll Associates where they developed modern furniture with sculptural shapes created by famous designers such as Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi or Harry Bertoia. In 1948, the company gained the production rights of Mies van der Rohe furniture models. In the 1950’s, the visual identity of the brand was entirely revised thanks to the collaborations between Florence Knoll and the graphisc artist Herbert Matter.
In 1955, Hans Knoll died but the company is still famous thanks to Florence Knoll. She hard worked on space and the integration of furniture in places where they took place. Her great acuity and her large sense of harmony permitted her to perfectly link shapes, colors and materials.
She quit in 1965 and left the company to Cornell Dechert. The company endured many changes notably in the visual identity that became more colorful and graphic from 1967 thanks to Massimo Vignelli. Then the company sales fell more and more in the 1970’s and 1980’s creating financial difficulties.
Finally bought in the 1990’s, the company became Knoll Group and came back on the front scene with original creations by contemporary designers as Frank Gehry or reedition of old collections as the Krefeld collection of Mies van der Rohe or seatings from Harry Bertoia.
Today the Knoll company produces original creations or reeditions with the company caracteristical style : modern, pure and elegant.
- C.&P. FIELL, Design du XXe siècle, Taschen Bibliotheca Universalis, 2018
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