Some time ago I wrote about the 10 most iconic chairs in mid century design. Today I decided to dig into the story of one of them: The Bertoia Diamond Chair designed for Knoll.
When I think to mid century design, Harry Bertoia and its chairs are among the ones that immediately pop-up in my mind.
Bertoia had an unique and distinctive approach to design, for him there was no difference between creating a sculpture and creating a piece of furniture. As sculptures mould the material to ‘entrap’ the final work of art so Bertoia moulded its seats to make space and air part of them and create a floating effect.
The Diamond Chair is probably the highest example of this kind of approach to design.
Bertoia moved to the US during the 30s and started to study at the Famous Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1939 where he also met Charles Eames, with whom worked in 1943 to the design of another icon of mid century design: the Wire Chair.
In the introduction to the Knoll Studio Collection, Florence Knoll remembers: “Bertoia worked with his own hands, trying variations, never satisfied. “When I get involved with something, there will be a grouping,” he reflected. “You will see them all around.” Through this artistic process, different chair functions emerged—for dining, for sitting or for reading—each finding a distinct natural form.“
During the 50s Bertoia concentrated his efforts on sculptures but was soon convinced by his old time friends from Cranbrook Florence Knoll and her husband Hans to design an exclusive seat for them.
The result was the Diamond Chair -one of the most celebrated and awards winning mid century design ever- that was introduced in 1952. The Diamond was the first of a long series of chairs and benches that he designed for Knoll.
The Bertoia desire to make air and space part of this chair caused not few challenges during the production phase.
The Diamond Chair could not have been drawn, it had to be sculpted using a wooden equipment for bending the wire, that proved to be more handy and cheap than bending it using a machine. Bertoia first bent the wires by hand before placing them in the equipment for welding.
At first sight the Diamond Chair looked to have a very improbable shape -even for the avant-garde mid century design- but once sitting you really have the feeling of floating as Bertoia dreamt.
The chair has been designed to include cushions but it looks even more sculptural without. The Diamond Chair is timeless in its design approach as in its form, it probably meets most of the modern green criteria for production and design as well. It’s light and easy to transport around the house and can be easily placed indoor as outdoor.
The Bertoia and the Diamond Chair won an incredible number of awards across five decades, some of them:
American Institute of Interior Designers First Award: 1954
AIA Certificate of Merit: 1955
Designer of the Year: 1955
AIA Certificate of Merit: 1962
I hope you enjoyed the story of this amazing piece of mid century design, if so please LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS WHY YOU LIKE THE DIAMOND CHAIR AND FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A FACEBOOK LIKE AS WELL