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- 27 Oct 2008

whipe that lipstick off that piggy!
Wright made an uncharachteristic error in the description of that KNOLL sofa. That one is well documented as KNOLL. However Alexander gerrard and Harry Bertoia did produce for both.

- 28 Oct 2008

Love child
I wonder if Giovanni Sacca Di Frutta is the secret love child of Herman Miller and Florence Knoll?

- 29 Oct 2008

Fact Check on Harry Bertoia
I believe Harry Bertoia worked for the Eames office who, after Bertoia left, eventually had work produced by HM. I'm not certain he himself worked for Herman Miller.

It was his falling out with the Charles Eames that set him on a course with Knoll. Yes?

- 29 Oct 2008

You are correct, altho most people admitted it only much later. Bertoia is generally given credit with the metal frame of the DCM/LCM. There also arose an issue when he put out his wire series for Knoll - the Diamond, Bird, & Side chairs made use of a double welded wire. The Eames & Herman Miller had already patented the double wire and Bertoia was forced to rethink his - arrving at the single, heavier wire frame that we know now.

For years people have whispered that the Eames Office was fairly autocratic. It revolved around the sole vision of Charles & Ray, with much input - but little credit given - from and to the rest of the staff members. I have heard that it was an amazing place to work, but not always fun. I imagine it to be sort of like Martha Stewart or Oprah today.

- 29 Oct 2008

Harry also....
Harry also developed and designed the DKR, or wire side chair and eiffel base. KNOLL and Bertoia were threatend with a lawsuit from herman miller for the for the wire chairs bertoia developed for KNOLL.
In the 1961 july Playboy article where the important modern designers of the day were assembled for a photo, Harry featured the herman miller DKR as one of his representitive designs.

- 30 Oct 2008

While Bertoia made the claims that the DKR was his it is highly disputable. The Eames' wire chairs were developed in 1951-1953 (Eames Design) Bertoia had left the Eames Office in 1947.

In "Charles & Ray Eames, Designers of the 20th Century" Pat Kirkham devotes a page to the complex relationship between the Eames and Bertoia. She cites differences in the way the chairs are made - Bertoia uses a diamond pattern whilst the Eames use a rectangular pattern, Bertoia's were handmade, the Eames were machine welded. Also cited are the plastic shell chairs - developed between the time Bertoia left the Office and the time of the wire chairs. The wire chair is essentially identical in shape to the plastic chairs, fitting all of the original bases. The conclusion that Kirkham draws is that none of the ideas emerging from the Eames Office were the sole result Charles and Ray, yet Bertoia is making a stretch in the claims that the DKR was his.

- 01 Nov 2008

both bertoia and knoll spoke....
both harry and florence have spoken on the record to interviewers of their meeting with george nelson regarding the wire group that KNOLL was soon to introduce publicly. perhaps they compromised on some changes in the design so as to avoid a lawsuit. i can't find the documentation at this time, but i believe the DKR is a 100% bertoia design.

- 01 Nov 2008

This is probably a similar argument
between the Herman Miller George Nelson Basic Storage cabinets and the Wincherdon Paul McCobb Planner Group line.

Certainly, McCobb was influenced by Nelson line. The concepts are nearly the same.

Both Herman Miller and Knoll had their own boxy upholstered sofas and chairs too.

Both Herman Miller and Knoll had their angled-iron tables (compare Nelson's steelframe coffee to Florence Knoll's angle iron tables).

And so it went.

- 01 Nov 2008

DKR is a 100% bertoia design
How is that? The shape had already been designed ... he may have influenced the material change, but the design was already present. %100 ownership would be impossible.

- 02 Nov 2008

Not to mention
In addition to Whitespikes comments:

There were early prototypes found in the Eames Office that did resemble Bertoia's style of chair AND the wire pattern used on the Diamond chair - indicating that he may have been working on a chair of that style while still at the Office. But those chairs differ very much from the final DKR.

The DKR is about exploration of an unusual material in a new context. The result is a very comfortable chair (ala the fiberglass chairs)

Bertoia's pieces are much more sculptural, dealing with the material in a completely different way. His chairs are about transparency and lightness (his side chairs are certainly not about comfort!)

Certainly the idea of a wire chair wasnt new to either designer, but the formal elements of each final chair speak entirely different languages. IMHO there is no way the DKR was solely Bertoia.

- 06 Nov 2008

Interiors Interview of Bertoia
I don't think this definitively answers the questions raised, but it does provide more insight.

Bertoia's comments during an interview with Interiors (November 1965 Issue):

Q: Would you trace the development of you, your chair and your sculpture?

Eames started a woodshop in Santa Monica, and I joined him in 1942. He had some money from the Museum of Modern Art to put his furniture into production, as one of the winners of Edgar Kaufmann's Organic Design Show (1941). Eero and Charile were winners -- there chairs were simple, direct plywood shells done on a lathe. I told Charlie we were torturing wood and should be using metal and he said, okay, go ahead and try. I proceeded to make the three-legged chair and a two-position tilt-back. As I toyed with the design, Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase came to mind. Like the body in the painting, the chair should rotate, change. All the dynamics of the human body should be taken into consideration. Then things cleared up and shaped up . . .

After I left Charlie, I designed jewelry and sculpture on the West Coast and came East in 1950 to design furniture for Hans Knoll. The little diamond chair was first -- finished in 1952. Then in 1957, Eero asked me if I would design a metal screen for the GM Tech Center. I was paid well and tasted the winds of freedom . . . it also put me in the architect's eye, and gradually I came to be in demand by architects and could pick and choose my commissions. But the real problem was much more basic: how much time to allow for experimentation, and how much time on commissions which pay high fee? I could easily become a slave in the wealthiest terms. If we as designers and artists want to give meaning to our freedom, we all have to face this.

- 07 Nov 2008

Good Lord, what a great quote...
'slave in the wealthiest terms'... Sums up the greatest obstacle of all the arts with a profound elegance. A slavery which has turned into prostitution in the modern day mainstream.

- 07 Nov 2008

Maybe I'm confused here, but...
Maybe I'm confused here, but didn't the DKR exist before the DSR? That would mean that the wire version is the first time this shape of seat is used.

I think the Herman Miller ads and catalogs of the early 1950's lists the DKR, DKX, LKX & LKR together with the DAR, DAX, LAX, LAR (the armshell variations), but without the fiberglass sideshells. I think the plastic sideshell only appeared in 1951 or 52...

- 07 Nov 2008

May be correct... From what I gather, the wire side chair was released in 1951, and the fiberglass side chair was released in 1954. That is not to say, that prototypes may have existed before then. The original side chair form was made out of stamped metal in 1948.

- 07 Nov 2008

The plastic
The plastic chairs were developed from the stamped metal chairs because the metal proved problematic as a material. Charles reasoned that the armshell provided more of a challenge so it was developed first, and then the side was developed shortly thereafter. Eames Design lists the armshell as 1950-53, and the sideshell from 1950-53. The DKR entered the market in 1951, and the stamped metal experiments were submitted to the Low Cost furniture competition much earlier in 1948. Clearly the shape had already been pretty much established, so the leap that Bertoia had influenced the material and structure - so heavily - many years later is a bit of a stretch.

MidMod - Most of what Bertoia talks about in the interview are the bases of the Eames prototype plywood chairs. There were dozens of variations on the supporting mechanisms of the seats. Many of the metal variants are (now) given credit to Bertoia, altho lack of credit at the time is credited with his leaving the office.

Now, if you want to see something really amazing (that I just noticed) look closely at captains chair on page 68 of Eames Design.

- 07 Nov 2008

Anyone actually have or has anyone seen an "early" fiberglass side shell? Were the side shells ever made at Zenith? I have never seen one marked as such.

I have one that I believe is circa 1954, and the plastic is very different from the Zenith arm shells. The early arm shells had a tremendous amount of visible and exposed fibers. The side shell I have barely has any, and the plastic is much thicker.

- 07 Nov 2008

I recently found a posting...
I recently found a posting on Craigslist that was selling a Barber's chair made from an Eames side shell. Also - a friend found some old circus rides that used real arm shells! So weird. I wonder if either of these were original ....

- 07 Nov 2008

The first armshells were thin, with lots of fibers. The thinness proved a flaw, and the rope-edge was added by hand to strengthen the edge and keep it from cracking. A later Zenith armshell had only a partial rope edge, along the front and sides. By the time the sideshell was produced they had resolved the problem by thickening the shell, making it sturdier. I had a first gen. side shell - with no secondary pads for stacking base mounts, and it looked pretty much the same as any other side shell.

- 07 Nov 2008

So, that's why I'm thinking the side shells were not actually produced (for sale) until 1954? And it seems like they were never made at Zenith.

- 07 Nov 2008

Woody...I think you're right about 1954
They're not in either the 1949 or 1952 catalogs. The wire side chairs were in the 1952 catalog, so i can imagine that the Eames' did a fiberglass side chair version round about 1954.

- 07 Nov 2008

Weird. I always assumed that...
Weird. I always assumed that the shells were designed first?

- 08 Nov 2008

I had an early side shell....
I had an early side shell. It had the large shock mounts and an x base. Entirely original and unmolested. Perhaps this helps with dating? Unfortunately, no label.

- 08 Nov 2008

Thanks for that. Would you happen to have pics? It certainly sounds like a Zenith production. If so, the question becomes why are they so much rarer than the Zenith arm shells?

- 17 Mar 2009

partial rope edge eames shell
How do know about the info about the partial rope edge.

Is there any documentation on this.

I heard that the partial rope edge where chairs in which the rope edge was going wrong (mistake) but they still finished the chair that's why there is only a part op the rope edge visable!!

- 17 Mar 2009

Partial rope edges are intentional, not a mistake.
They are always in the same spot, wrapping around the front lip. I'm pretty sure they used this little piece of rope to pull the shell off the mold. I had one, and they pop-up on eBay now and then.

- 13 Oct 2011

partial rope edges are intentional, i agree
I have a partial rope edge arm shell and the rope placement looks very symmetrical. Two separate pieces at each front corner of the seat. They are each about 7 or 8 inches long, and are placed at the corners only. Very planned. Not a mistake in any way.

- 13 Oct 2011

Quite a resurrection
I just sold two sideshells that had large rubber mounts with an x base that utilized the slip on glides if that helps narrow down dates. No HM raised logo but no stamps or labels either.

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