Bertoia’s Diamond Chair in ‘The Beales Bequest’ exhibition

This article is published on The Ken Stradling Collection blog

Colin Beales sitting in The Diamond Chair

Colin Beales sitting in The Diamond Chair

Harry Bertoia, an Italian-American sculptor, university lecturer and furniture designer, created The Diamond Chair in 1952 for the firm Knoll International. It comprises of a series containing a small and large version of the chair, a chair with an raised back and a footstall, a child’s chair and a bar chair. The Knoll website refers to them as the ‘wire collection’, and this post illustrates the classic Diamond Chair, The Bird Chair and The Side Chair from this collection. The chairs are sculptural, sturdy and functional; they are surprisingly comfortable and supportive.

Most chairs in the mid twentieth century were made of wood, so it was relatively novel that a chair like Bertoia’s Diamond Chair was made with steel. This technique of using steel was familiar to Bertoia due to his experimental work as a sculptor. The fluid lines of the bent metal are pleasing to the eye and unusual in furniture design.

The chairs holds an interesting shape from all sides. Although wide, the spaces between the wires give it a quality of lightness and airiness, so it doesn’t seem to impose upon a space. This makes it an appropriate chair for a small or minimalist room.

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The opening of The Beales Bequest exhibition at The Ken Stradling Collection

The Beales Bequest PosterA version of this article is on The Ken Stradling Collection website

From tomorrow, Wednesday 14th January, the latest exhibition at The Ken Stradling Collection will be open to the public. I have co-curated this show, entitled The Beales Bequest, and wrote the gallery’s information texts. I also contribute to their blog, and will be writing a series of blog posts about individual objects featured in this exhibition.

The Beales Bequest revolves around the eclectic objects that a Bristol architect and founding trustee of The Ken Stradling Collection left with his artist wife to the Collection when they died last year.

Colin and Jennifer Beales were great friends with Ken Stradling. Colin often drove around Bristol with Ken, and they travelled together to parts of Europe, to view or purchase furniture, ceramics and art. He in particular had a long association with The Bristol Guild. Jennifer also made significant contributions, such as formulating the title of the Collection’s catalogue, “The Incidental Collector”, which Colin helped to write and edit.

On display in the exhibition there will be a great variety of ceramics by many important British makers from the 20th and 21st centuries. Think Dan Arbeid (who The Guardian has described as “one of the pioneers of unconventional vessel-based handbuilt forms”), Mick Casson, Stig Lindberg and Herbert Krenchel.

There will also be bold and often humorous pieces of glasswork and sculpture, as well photographs of Colin’s main architectural projects and some of the Beales’ own art – pottery, etchings and paintings – exhibited too.

The Beales Bequest will be open to view every Wednesday 10 – 4pm and by appointment until 11th March (the exhibition has been extended beyond the original date of the 4th February).

Pieces by Stig Lindberg, Erik Hoglund and Herbert Krenchel

Pieces by Stig Lindberg, Erik Hoglund and Herbert Krenchel