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#426 Child's Chair

This is a Child's chair. It was designed by Harry Bertoia and manufactured by Knoll International. It is dated ca. 1955 and we acquired it in 1991. Its medium is bent enameled steel, woven wool upholstery. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Italian-born artist Harry Bertoia was primarily a fine artist, but began working with chair design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he was a student in 1937–39 and then a metalworking instructor until 1943. In 1950, fellow Cranbrook alum Florence Knoll, who ran furniture manufacturer Knoll Associates with her husband Hans, offered Bertoia a salary, studio, and no-strings-attached freedom to experiment with art and design as he wished, believing fully in his talents. During this time, Bertoia eschewed design research and instead worked with metal wire—a material in which he had been interested for over a decade—using his artistic sensibilities. After two years he developed his first wire-frame seating furniture, which, fortunately for Knoll, was highly successful, remaining in continuous production today. The artist-designer has likened his wire-frame chairs to his sculptural work, saying of them: “In the chairs many functional problems have to be satisfied first...but when you get right down to it, the chairs are studies in space, form and metal, too.” The Cooper Hewitt chair is a child’s-size version of Bertoia’s original side chair from this set, which would be the designer’s only furniture line, as he soon returned to crafting sculpture and architectural installations.

This object was donated by Mel Byars. It is credited Gift of Mel Byars.

  • Child's Chair (USA)
  • molded laminated plywood, red stain.
  • Gift of Mrs. Eric Larrabee.
  • 1991-144-1
  • Model 500 Telephone
  • molded plastic, metal, rubber.
  • Transfer from Exhibitions Department.
  • 2009-50-1-a/c

Our curators have highlighted 2 objects that are related to this one.

  • Small Diamond Chair
  • bent plastic-coated metal wire, woven cotton upholstery, foam rubber.
  • Gift of the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material....
  • 2011-22-1
  • Ingredients Necklace
  • pyrite, glass, gold, wool, kevlar.
  • The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
  • 2016-34-11

Its dimensions are

50.5 x 34.5 x 31 cm (19 7/8 x 13 9/16 x 12 3/16 in. )

Cite this object as

#426 Child's Chair; Designed by Harry Bertoia (American, b. Italy, 1915 - 1978); Manufactured by Knoll Textiles (United States); USA; bent enameled steel, woven wool upholstery; 50.5 x 34.5 x 31 cm (19 7/8 x 13 9/16 x 12 3/16 in. ); Gift of Mel Byars; 1991-59-55

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=#426 Child's Chair |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=27 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>