Designer for Hire

Pleased to Meet You


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Celia Bertoia, daughter of iconic furniture designer Harry Bertoia, dishes on her famous father. By Joan Calcagno.

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Celia as a baby with her father Harry. Photo courtesy of Celia Bertoia.

Early bird or night owl? “Definitely I am an early bird. My morning is very important to me. It’s when I do my meditation, I get some exercise, I have my cup of tea, and a substantial breakfast. I have about two hours’ worth of personal routine before working.  I do my best work in the morning also. My husband likes to rise later, so it’s my private time and very valuable.”

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Celia today, author of a new book about her father Harry. Photo courtesy of Harry Bertoia Foundation.

Favorite accessory? “I may be kind of boring, but I love my landline phone. I can hear better and it’s stable. I’m right at my desk so I can take notes or look on the computer if I need to. You know, it just works well for me and I don’t think I’m going to give it up for years.”

Favorite faux pas? “Of course I can think of many errors I’ve made throughout the years, but, probably one is calling people by the wrong name. Sometimes l look at someone and they just look like a Linda or a Mark and that just keeps coming to my brain. Of course they’re usually so polite that they don’t say anything and I don’t realize it till later. But it makes me vulnerable and that’s always a good thing.”

Who is your dream customer? “My overall mission is to further the legacy of Harry Bertoia. So what comes to mind for me is someone who loves Harry Bertoia’s work, who is a big fan, who has brilliant ideas about marketing and promotion. Someone who would support the Foundation and help with their expertise and finances. That’s my ideal person.”

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Harry Bertoia’s Diamond Chair. Photo courtesy of the Harry Bertoia Foundation.

If I could change one thing I would… “That’s so tough to put into one synopsis. But I would want it to be something like requiring people to be honest and loving. If they could do that, so many other things would fall into place. If we could just be right where we are in life – and not try to make it sound better or different – just be who we are – and be kind to each other – what a different world that would be.”

Tell us something about your dad we didn’t know.  “He was very humble and had a sort of eastern philosophy where the self was not that important. He didn’t even sign his work – or title them. He felt the viewer was more important than the creator – the viewer looks at a piece of art and finds meaning for themselves But he did have quite a temper. His anger would come out in interesting ways. If he was mad about something he would come home and he would do yard work with a vengeance. He’d cut down trees or dig huge holes or throw rocks around. That was his way of venting his anger.”

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Harry Bertoia was known for his ergonomically designed furniture. Metal was a favorite material. Photo courtesy of the Harry Bertoia Foundation.

* As part of Tucson Modernism Week Celia will giving a lecture, The Life and Work of Harry Bertoia, Saturday, October 4th, 11:30 to 12:30, Faith Lutheran Church, 3925 E. 5th St. Tickets available here.

Her book The Life and Work of Harry Bertoia: The Man, the Artist, the Visionary is due out in March 2015. Find out more about Harry Bertoia and his work on the Harry Bertoia foundation website.      

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