Bertoia Chairs

Written by Sarah Provost
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The series of steel mesh Bertoia chairs produced by Harry Bertoia in the 1950s were so popular that they supported his artistic work for the rest of his life. These pieces, especially the Diamond chair, were immediately embraced as modern design classics. When you consider the delicacy of the metalwork in Bertoia chairs, it becomes less surprising that in his later work, the artist explored the uses of metal in music.

Reproduction Bertoia Chairs

The original Bertoia chairs were fabricated by hand, because no appropriate means of mass production could be found. Today, however, there are many reproductions available. This is a great boon in terms of finding affordable versions of a classic modernist piece, but you need to be cautious and do some digging before purchasing a reproduction.

The design is deceptively simple, and many manufacturers turn out knock-offs. When ordering a quality reproduction, be sure to examine the specifications. The chairs should be made of steel mesh, and the cushions of leather. The delicacy of the design means that pieces made with inferior production can fall apart easily.

One might wish that Bertoia hadn't abandoned furniture design so abruptly. His work with Ray and Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen and Florence Knoll was ground-breaking, but conflicts arose over who was to take credit for what, a problem often experienced when great artisans work together. At least we have the Diamond chair to relax in while mulling the problem.


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