Harry Bertoia- A Complete Artist Alongside a Designer
Born of Italian origin, designer Harry Bertoia was a gifted artist who involved in various forms of artistic designs. He was born in the San Lorenzo, Pardenone region of Italy. He was a sound art sculptor, modern furniture designer and an artist by profession. He discovered his design skills when he had to travel from Italy to Detroit, U.S.A and it was then that he chose to stay there and pursue his education in the field of design from the Cass Technical High School, and here he studied the art of jewelry making. Later in 1938, he attended the Art School of the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts, now known as the College of Creative Academy of Art. Later he was rewarded with a scholarship to study at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and it is here that he met some of his colleagues, Walter Gropius, Edmund N. Bacon and Ray and Charles Eames for the first time.
The following year Harry started off with a metal shop in 1939, where he taught jewelry and metal work. Later as the metal prices seemed to rise, he focused his design on jewelry making. He designed wedding rings for his colleague Charles's wife and Edmund Bacon's wife Ruth. Subsequently he got married to Brigitta Valentiner in 1943 and moved to California to work with Charles and Ray at the Molded Plywood Division, a division of the Evans Product Company. A few years later, he moved to Pennsylvania and collaborated with Hand and Florence Knoll (Florence was a graduate of Cranbrook). Here he designed 5 pieces of wire known as the Bertoia Collection for Knoll. He then designed a lattice work of diamond chair that sold very well in the mid- 50s. From the income generated from these chairs, he could focus his interest on his passion, sound sculpting. As a part of sound sculpting, he could create tones of sounds from the metal. He stretched and bent the metal in such as way that it could respond to wind and touch to create beautiful tones.
He was later showered with many prestigious projects such as the Marshall University Fountain in Huntington, West Virginia. This was done as an honor to the victims of a plane crash who died in Nov 1970. And, in 1954, he was assigned the project to design the Gordon Bunshaft's building sculpture for manufacturers Hanover Trust which is now called J.P Morgan chase in New York. Here he designed a full building width screen-sculpture. He was then commissioned to create “The Golden Sun” in 1967 at an auditorium called The Whiting in Michigan. Among his popular furniture designs, Bertoia Barstool, bench, bird chair, diamond chair, side chair are pretty famous and are still selling in the market. Harry’s designs truly fill in you a deep inspiration. The reproduced versions of his designs are also sold at auction houses and galleries and are in full demand.