Harry Bertoia's 'Sonambient' Sound Sculptures
Most of us can recognize his iconic Diamond Chair even if we don’t know his name.
In the furniture design industry, Harry Bertoia is considered a modern master for his classic wire frame collection, which was produced by Herman Miller and refined by Knoll. What is less known (at least to me) is that the design was so successful that it allowed him to devote the majority of his life to his sculpture. His sculptural oeuvre is far greater than his relatively short design career. Returning to his roots in Pennsylvania, Bertoia spent the 1950s creating commissioned public art sculptures, and in the 60s he began experimenting with sound and movement in his sculpture. This ultimately lead to the “Sounding Sculpture" series and a series of recordings he titled “Sonambient.”
Bertoia died in 1978, however the barn on his property where he worked and created several installations is still there today. Studio tours are available, so that you can experience these remarkable kinetic sculptures for yourself. Special thanks to the great NPR story on Bertoia’s work, which can be found here.