Harry Bertoia was an Italian artist that came to America looking for a better life, a better future, a place where he could express himself without constraints and realize the beautiful images that plagued his mind. Initially, he was a sculptor. He became preoccupied with strange shapes and started crafting jewelry at a young age. He also loved metal, above all other materials.
Born in 1915, at the dawn of the 20th century, he stepped foot on the United States in 1930 as a teenager. He settled in Detroit and studied metalwork and painting. In 1937, he encountered Walter Gropius, Florence Knoll, and the Eames couple in the Cranbrook Academy of Art.
It was through this encounter that his real genius started to flourish. Bertoia is not only known for his furniture work, but also because he created a number of incredible “sound sculptures,” many of which still stand today in various places across America.
The Diamond Chair
After experimenting with sound sculptures, the polymath became interested in furniture and created a series of chairs for Florence Knoll. It is known that Bertoia played a huge part in the design of the quintessential Eames lounge chair, though in the end it was Charles Eames who claimed all the credit.
The story is not quite clear, but many people like to credit Bertoia for taking part in the design of this timeless icon, even though his style of furniture greatly differs from the Eames Lounge chair.
That wasn’t, however, a defeat for Bertoia. His experience with metalwork, much more advanced than that of the Eames couple, would help him produce a commercially successful design that would become another living room staple from the mid-century modern style.
The Diamond chair, created in 1952, was a tribute to the line. Bertoia was infatuated with the idea of straight and curved lines, the most basic of elements in art and design. Florence Knoll loved the Diamond chair and he was handsomely compensated, which allowed him to dedicate his future years to sound sculpture. The success of the Diamond chair is still ongoing, even though it isn’t as recognizable as other mid-century staples.
Available replicas of the Diamond chair
The Diamond chair takes the form of a curved net created form a grid of straight lines that have bent to “induce” a seat, rather than building it from scratch. To support the net-like structure, Bertoia crafted a polygonal base that he attached to the chair with metal locks, an overall homage to his creative roots.
You can purchase a Diamond chair with a single cushion or complete upholstery in a wide variety of colors, though the choice of black, white, or tan shades is preferable due to the metal. The Knoll store original design sells for $2,204. Quality replicas might be on the market for a little more than a thousand.
Manhattan Home Design offers a single-cushion replica crafted from chrome steel and leatherette for $428. It is a true-to-design replica that follows all specifications from the original manufacturer.