Duck, Duck… Bertoia

Lately I’ve been trying to thrift a little less. My house and storage areas are all completely overcrowded and a super busy summer has meant that every new find pretty much stays wherever it lands for awhile. So, I’ve been resisting things unless they’re truly great or unusual. This weekend started out with unusual and ended with great.


Although not vintage (and not ducks, but geese) I couldn’t resist these mounted waterfowl when Tammy and I hit a tag sale on Saturday morning. I have no idea why, but I’ve always found taxidermy interesting and over time I’ve co-opted the Victorian tradition of decorating with it. Both birds are South American species, a male upland goose on the left and an ashy-headed goose on the right. The best part of this adventure by far was watching people react to us at stop lights on the way home. They looked pretty real.

photo 3

The view from outside the car resulted in some puzzled looks from passing cars.

My next find definitely qualifies as “great.”


A Bertoia Large Diamond chair with full cover, designed by mid-century sculptor/designer Harry Bertoia in 1952 for Knoll Associates.


This was listed for sale locally—for only 50 bucks—and had miraculously gone unnoticed for over 24 hours before I discovered it. How nobody snapped it up before me I’ll never know, but I’m very happy they didn’t. I’m not exactly sure what year it was made, but the original label on the cover helps pinpoint a range.


Knoll moved from Madison Avenue to their Park Avenue location in 1961 and remained there until 1970. In the meantime, Massimo Vignelli redesigned the Knoll logo (still in use today) in 1967. These clues mean the chair must have been made between 1961 and 1967.


As much as I love the original fabric on the cover, I’m not sure it’s practically salvageable. The front has a lot of fading, the sides have wear and the foam is essentially just dust. I will also have to find replacement shock mounts. Until this find I was unaware that any Bertoia chairs had such mounts. Evidently they were installed only on the large diamond chair the bird chair, allowing them to rock. One is missing on mine and the others are probably due for replacement.


Aside from these issues, the chair frame itself is in pretty terrific shape. Although the black legs need new paint, the wire shell is coated with vinyl for indoor/outdoor use and only needs a good wiping down.


As much as I like the form of the chair, I will probably have a replacement seat pad made. Now to find the perfect fabric…


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