International Decorative Art

Diamond Chair (No. 421)

Diamond Chair (No. 421)

Design Date 1951

Designer Harry Bertoia (1915-1978, American, b. Italy)

Manufacturer Knoll International (1938-present), New York, NY

Media chrome-plated steel rod

Dimensions 30 x 32 7/8 x 28 3/4 inches

Harry Bertoia is well-known for his fabricated bronze sculptures, also included in Kirkland Museum’s collections. He used his knowledge of metalwork to create the Diamond Chair for the furniture company owned by Florence Knoll, his former classmate at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He had previously collaborated with Cranbrook colleagues, Charles & Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen. Bertoia did some of the earliest research on ergonomics at a Navy engineering lab from 1947 to 1950. There he learned how to design for the human form, which led to his studies in creating a lightweight wire chair whose seat would conform to the seated figure. Bertoia’s bent wire-mesh grid was “concerned primarily with space, form and the characteristics of metal”, he said. “[The chairs] are mostly made of air….Space passes right through them.” Bertoia was also inspired by more organic structures in the design of the Diamond Chair, as he told Architectural Forum in 1952: “This chair has a lot of little diamond shapes in its wire shape, and this is the shape of the whole chair [a diamond]. It is a really organic principle, like a cellular structure.”

ON VIEW in Modern Gallery 7

Markings unmarked

Credit Line Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Accession Number 2004.2001