Celia Bertoia Shares a "Labor of Love" at Knoll Showrooms
Celia Bertoia, the daughter of Harry Bertoia, presented her book The Life and Work of Harry Bertoia: The Man, the Artist, the Visionary at Knoll showrooms across both coasts, visiting Knoll San Diego, Knoll Santa Monica and, yesterday, Knoll New York. Calling the book "a real labor of love," Bertoia presented an overview of her father's undertakings, from his time at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, to his work at Knoll, and through his prolific and spiritual life.
Aside from offering a unique biography, Celia Bertoia shared a number of rare details about her father's life. At Knoll, Harry Bertoia was offered an enviable freedom in the creative process, with no limits or quotas placed around what the sculptor would produce. Florence Knoll–described by Celia Bertoia as "a mover and a shaker of her era"–held the belief that an open creative process would naturally result in great furniture, and so it did, leading to the innovative, elegant and timeless Bertoia Collection.
In New York, Celia Bertoia recalled a collaborative and supportive design family both at work and outside Knoll, including Florence and Hans Knoll, Herbert Matter, Eero Saarinen and Richard Schultz.
She closed her remarks at Knoll's New York Showroom by reading a letter from her father to her mother, Brigitta Bertoia. Dating from the 1950s, the letter illustrates Harry Bertoia's spirituality both in life and in art. "Express the intangible, imagine the imagineless," he wrote. "The purpose of living is a mystic one."
Celia Bertoia's book tour coincides with a year of celebration around Harry Bertoia's Centennial; the designer, sculptor and artist would have been 100. The Centennial was honored with an exhibition "Celebrate Harry Bertoia" at Knoll's Salone Internazionale del Mobile showroom. Designed by OMA, the exhibition allowed visitors to experience the full range of Harry Bertoia's incredible achievements, which spanned furniture, sculpture, jewelry and drawings.