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The Armchair by Harry Bertoia: a Sculpture in the Space

The various model of armchair by harry bertoia represent all an important part of the history of modern design: indeed Harry Bertoia was born in Italy, but became an American citizen, is considered one of the most interesting and  polyhedral artist and designer of the  last century. We can find his works in  various field like sculpture, drawing and jewelry art: but in the design field we can find his most famous works, like the armchair by harry bertoia.

Bertoia in Detroit he studied sculpture and painting at the "Institute of tecnology". In 1937 he become a lecturer at the "Detroit school od arts and Craft" and at the "Cranbrook academy of the arts". In the 40's he began to experiment with design furniture he tought at the "Cranbrook academy", Blumfields (Michigan). In the small workshop in Bally, Bertoia created a new series of sculptures with new shapes from which little he evolded the outline of the chairs made of still rods.

Bertoia states that his design his intended to create a space which is more pleasurable and diversified via the process of combining technicall work with creative art. "Space permeates them", he wrote of his chair, "if you look at them carefully you can see that they are made primarily of air, like a sculpture". He also visualized the char has a sculpture in space. This is why in took hearth primarily the spatial quality, the colour and the caracteristics of the metal.

In the 1950s when most chairs were made of rigid wood, the Bertoia line of furniture - with welded wire and a springy feel - were totally innovative. Knoll International produced the first Bertoia chairs in 1952 and is still producing them today. Bertoia was exposed to chairs at Cranbrook when Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames entered and won the Organic Furniture Design Competition sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art. Bertoia developed his initial chair design ideas while working with Charles Eames and others in California in the late 1940s.

Bertoia was extremely instrumental in achieving the flexible plywood seat with tubular frame that eventually became the Eames chair. It was known only as the Eames chair and there was no mention of Bertoia or the other co-workers.
Bertoia, frustrated by the lack of recognition, left Eames and was summoned to join the Point Loma Naval Electronics Laboratory.

Part of his work at the lab was to scrutinize the human body and chart how to design equipment such as control panels and knobs with respect to comfort of the human reach and grip. He found this study of body dynamics (today we might call it ergonomics) fascinating and it contributed to knowledge used later in designing well-fitting practical chairs.
 
In the various model of armchair by harry bertoia we can find two important characteristics of this artist: in the first place the attention that Harry Bertoia  placed in the choosing of materials, in the using of them and in the melting of very different materials in the same object.

Indeed in the various model of armchair by harry bertoia we can found another interesting characteristic, that resulted from the artistic education of the Italian-American designer: indeed Harry Bertoia was also a sculptor and all his design objects projected and made, particularly chairs and armchairs, had one distinctive aspect: we can watch these chair not only from the front or from the side (this happens normally with the chairs), but we can look to these chair from the back and also from above.

And this happens because the particular shape of these chairs made them like really as a sculpture, than a furniture object.
 
 

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