An Original Set of Six Side Chairs by Harry Bertoia for Knoll - 1960's
A rare set of authentic vintage Harry Bertoia wire chairs (model 420) in very good condition. Not only are these chromed chairs authentic Knoll pieces, they are vintage chairs from the 1960's.
The earlier 420 chairs, such as these, complied better with Bertoia's idea of designing a chair that was made "mainly out of air", than the later one. The grid wire on the chairs made before 1980 was thinner compared to the grid wire after 1980, when manufacturing moved from Pennsylvania to Italy.
Harry Bertoia was initially a jeweler and sculptor, who worked with Charles and Ray Eames. He later met Hans and Florence Knoll, for whom he designed five wire pieces, that became the Bertoia Collection, for Knoll. His idea was to build furniture, "mainly made of air, like sculptures. Spaces pass right through them."
He used his body, and the act of sitting, as the main design inspiration, and the first batches of these chairs were all hand made by him since the tools of mass production were not available yet.
Condition: Very good. No structural failure. Slight traces of use. Light residue of corrosion in corners. The leatherette seats are still in good condition, with upholstery thread that gave up in a few places, which adds to the authenticity.
Authenticity: How do we know these are not knock-offs? The licensed manufacturers, Knoll, only began marking the Bertoia chairs in 2004. So these chairs are not marked and we had to revert to checking various other qualities to verify the authenticity.
First of all we had to check if they were vintage, since the large scale copying of designer furniture only really took off after the turn of the 21st century, when the revival in interest in mid-century furniture began and authentic pieces became much more expensive. The chances of a 1960's chair being a copy is therefore very slim.
It needs to be pointed out that since the chairs were first manufactured in 1952, they went through several small evolutionary changes as a response to field failures, structural improvements or cost reduction. We identified these chairs by using these changing characteristics as reference, to have been made in the 1960's. We also traced the brand printed on the snap fasteners (Newey England) on the upholstery - the company Newey Brothers LTD manufactured these in the 1960's. We therefore have no doubt that these chairs date from the 1960's.
We also had a look at the corner radius of the top corners, the horisontal character of the rim wire at the top corner, the corner angles in the base, the quality of the welds and the grid wires that are cut at an angle. We also checked the dimensions of the chairs versus other sixties versions. It all checks out. These are the real deal.
Only one small detail on the chairs are not original. The screws with slotted screw heads on the brackets that attach the top part to the base, have been replaced by bolts with Allen key heads on five of the chairs. This is a better solution and easily reversible. One chair has the original screws.
Dimensions: 52 cm (w) x 74 cm (h)