The current AJF Staff Writer is Dina Noto. In the past, our staff writers have included Susan Cummins, Bonnie Levine, and Kerianne Quick, among others.
If you’ve ever had your rear end imprinted by the graceful waffle pattern of wire mesh, you have Harry Bertoia to thank. The Diamond Chair granted him entry into the exclusive gentlemen’s club of mid-century modern icon-makers, but before he was bending metal and space to form the Mad Men aesthetic, Bertoia was a student at Cranbrook Academy of Art in the early 1940s. Forced by wartime rationing to scale down his sculptural explorations, Bertoia used silver scraps scrounged from the flea markets and floors of Detroit to craft necklaces and pendants, and ended up pioneering both the American Studio Jewelry movement and dumpster diving. Whether or not he can be legitimately heralded as the originator of American hipsterism—or the Eames’s design ideas—Bertoia’s journey to design legacy began with art jewelry. As befits a legend, Bertoia’s 100th birthday is currently being celebrated with an exhibit of his jewelry work, now on view at the Cranbrook Art Museum.