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Bertoia Side Chair
Iconic Designs

Bertoia Side Chair

About the Design

When Hans and Florence Knoll invited Italian-American artist Harry Bertoia (1915–78) to move from California to Pennsylvania in 1950 to work with their new design firm, they did not ask him to develop any specific pieces but instead to investigate whatever interested him. That open-ended experimentation led to the 1952 Bertoia Side chair, which was fitted with a fluid metal lattice that gave the seating an ethereal quality. Bertoia considered his collection of chairs created for Knoll Associates to be “mainly made of air, like sculpture,” as he bent steel wire into striking lightweight forms.


While these chairs were innovative in their use of industrial materials, they also had a progressive approach to the ergonomics of seating. Bertoia had previously collaborated with  Charles and Ray Eames on molded plywood chairs — what would become the LCW (Lounge Chair Wood) — yet was miffed by the lack of credit for his work. He went on to take a job in engineering for the human body at the Point Loma Naval Electrical Lab in La Jolla, California, during which he created metal sculptures in his spare time. The opportunity from Knoll, another of his former classmates at the famed Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan — Bertoia met the Eameses and Knoll and later taught metalworking there — gave him the time and space to devote himself to his own ideas independently. And, as with all Knoll designers, he would get named recognition for his designs.


In a garage in Bally, Pennsylvania, he set up his metal shop and developed ideas for the welded steel grids he would use in his seating. At the time, most chairs were constructed from wood; Bertoia saw the potential for graceful and comfortable designs in the strong material of metal. Along with the Bertoia Side chair, he created the Diamond chair with a diamond pattern in its metalwork and the undulating Asymmetric Chaise (which was too complicated to manufacture until 2005), all with the transparent volume that gives his metal furniture a sense of floating.


Although he would shift to making art rather than furniture, Bertoia still worked on a number of sculptural and architectural designs for the Knoll Planning Unit in the years that followed. Knoll, Inc. has produced the Bertoia Side chair since it was introduced, with its durable materials and optional upholstery or seat covers that can be snapped on and off, making it popular for indoor and outdoor seating.

Harry Bertoia Side Chair

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Bertoia Wire Chairs
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Harry Bertoia for Knoll wire side chairs. 1980s Italian-made examples with thicker wire and "waterfall" seat. All in good shape with no breaks. Sold individually.
Category

Vintage 1980s Mid-Century Modern Side Chairs

Materials

Steel

Harry Bertoia Mid-Century Modern Vintage Set of Four White Dining Chairs, 1950s
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Vienna, AT
A Harry Bertoia Mid-Century Modern vintage set of 4 dining chair or side chair, which show a white coated metal construction. This iconic design by Harry Bertoia was designed in the...
Category

Mid-20th Century European Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs

Materials

Metal

Harry Bertoia for Knoll Children's Chair in Black
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Philadelphia, PA
Precious children's chair by Harry Bertoia for Knoll. Currently in it's original matte black Rilsan,, but I can have professionally sandblasted & powder-coated in any color you wi...
Category

Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Chairs

Materials

Metal

Knoll Baby Blue Bertoia Side Chair Toddler Sized
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Philadelphia, PA
Diminutive child’s chair by Harry Bertoia for Knoll. This is the smallest version of the Bertoia side chair that was made, and is scarce to find. Original slides are intact. ...
Category

Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Chairs

Materials

Metal

Harry Bertoia Wire Chairs with Original Green Seat Covers, Knoll, USA
By Harry Bertoia
Located in London, GB
Priced individually. Two remaining. Harry Bertoia for Knoll black wire chairs with original green seat covers. In very good vintage condition. Ships worldwide.   
Category

Late 20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs

Materials

Metal

Childrens Chair by Harry Bertoia for Knoll International, 1950s
By Harry Bertoia, Knoll
Located in Lasne, BE
Harry Bertoia's children's chairs. Light wear and tear due to time and use. Measures: Seat height 37cm.
Category

Vintage 1950s Central American Mid-Century Modern Children's Furniture

Materials

Metal

1950s Pair of Kids Side Chairs by Harry Bertoia for Knoll US, 1950s
By Harry Bertoia, Knoll
Located in Berlin, DE
1950s pair of kids side chairs by Harry Bertoia for Knoll US 1950s Designer Harry Bertoia developed this type of design from the famous 1952 Bertoia chair series. Manufacturer Knol...
Category

Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Children's Furniture

Materials

Metal

Harry Bertoia for Knoll Child's Side Chair
By Harry Bertoia, Knoll
Located in St. Louis, MO
Early Harry Bertoia for Knoll child's wire coated mesh chair. In vintage condition, with some loss to coating, stains, crazing and having all four original floor glides.
Category

Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Side Chairs

Materials

Metal

Chrome Children's Bertoia Side Chair with White Seat Cushion by Knoll, Pair
By Harry Bertoia, Knoll
Located in Van Nuys, CA
Pair of chrome children's Bertoia side chair with white seat cushion by Knoll.
Category

Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Side Chairs

Materials

Steel, Chrome

Set of Four Vintage Bertoia Chairs
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Stockton, NJ
A set of four vintage Bertoia wire chairs by Knoll. Original red fitted cushions.
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs

Materials

Metal

Pair of Vintage Midcentury Black Knoll Bertoia Side Chairs
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Pasadena, TX
Bertoia designed the patented diamond chair for Knoll in 1952. As a furniture designer, Bertoia is best known for the diamond chair and the bird chair, a high-backed model developed ...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Side Chairs

Materials

Steel

Vintage Pair of White Bertoia Side Chairs with Alligator Cushions
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Chicago, IL
Midcentury white powder-coated steel side chairs by Bertoia, with alligator cushions.
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Chairs

Materials

Steel

Florence Knoll Dining Table Plus Two Bertoia Side Chairs
By Florence Knoll, Harry Bertoia, Knoll
Located in Berlin, DE
Nice small dining set by Knoll in white, white with vintage chair pads.
Category

Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Sets

Materials

Metal