Earlier this fall, Karen Stone, director of design Knoll, brought a group of Industrial Design students from Pratt Institute to the Knoll factory in East Greenville, PA. The students took a tour of the plant and then got to work with the Knoll Product Development team and Val Bertoia at Bertoia Studios. With the Product Development team, the students got to experience first hand how the engineers worked in conjunction with the designers, how they go about solving for different mechanical challenges, and how raw materials change under the influence of temperature and pressure.
One student said of her experience with the Product Development team, "It was interesting to see how a designer's work stops revolving around this individual and his/her aesthetic sensibilities, and takes on a new life, leaves the realm of abstraction, and becomes a functional object made of tangible materials and components." Other students shared how much they enjoyed seeing the assembly line work and understand what was happening at every step of the process.
After working with Product Development, the students met with Val Bertoia, Harry Bertoia's son. Val Bertoia now runs Bertoia Studios out of the same studio his father worked out of, restoring original pieces and making new sculptures. The students got to interact and hear many of the sound sculptures that Val had in the studio, in addition to seeing the construction history behind one of the most iconic chairs in the history of Modern design - Harry Bertoia's wire-form side chair. Students marveled at the deep hums and elegant chimes the sound sculptures produced.
Overall, the students were incredibly grateful of their unique experience with Knoll. The students shared the same general sentiment, stating that seeing a design go from paper to an actual tangible product was very informative to their own designs, presenting a new perspective they had yet to consider.