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Curated Furniture at Optima Lakeview: the Bertoia Side Chair

Our love of mid-century classic furniture can be found throughout all of the Optima communities. And with our soft spot for iconic seating, it’s no surprise that the famed Bertoia Side Chair is a staple in many of our amenity spaces. Let’s take a closer look.

About Harry Bertoia
Born in San Lorenzo, Italy in 1915, Bertoia built an international reputation as an artist, sound art sculptor and modern furniture designer. After leaving his home at the age of 15 to join his older brother Oreste in Detroit, Harry embarked on a career that centered on the exploration of modernist ideas and ideals, often in collaboration with some of the greatest thinkers and visionaries of that era.

In 1936, a one-year scholarship to the School of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts allowed Harry to study painting and drawing. He entered and placed in many local art competitions, said to be the most awarded student up until that time. The following year, another scholarship took him to the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Working among some of the most famous artists and designers of the modernist age, including Eero and Eliel Saarinen, Charles and Roy Eames and Florence Knoll, Bertoia’s creativity and mastery of materials flourished.

Bertoia as Furniture Designer
Bertoia was first exposed to furniture design at Cranbrook when Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames entered and won the Organic Furniture Design Competition sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art. In fact, Bertoia developed his initial chair design ideas while working with Charles Eames and others in California in the late 1940s, which he later incorporated into his work.

Bertoia eventually left Eames to join the Point Loma Naval Electronics Laboratory. While there, he learned how to study the human body to design control panels and knobs that focused on comfort for reach and grip. This sensitivity to ergonomics contributed significantly to Bertoia’s fascination with designing well-fitting practical chairs.

In 1950, at the invitation of former classmate Florence Knoll and her husband Hans, Harry moved to eastern Pennsylvania to work at their emergent furniture company Knoll, Inc. Florence had seen Harry’s work at Cranbrook, heard he had left Eames, and knew that he had enormous promise as a furniture designer. The Knolls offered him the opportunity to design what he wished with full credit and complete recognition of his work, which was their policy with all designers.

About the Bertoia Side Chair
Once on staff at Knoll, Bertoia was asked to develop hospital furniture, but he preferred to work with healthy bodies. He gravitated towards metal as his material of choice, and he continued to experiment with it until he landed on the concept of the wire grid, which could be shaped at will. with it until arising at the wire grid concept that could be shaped at will to conform to the human body. This was a radical departure from the use of rigid wood, which was characteristic of the late 1940s and early 1950s furniture. He not only created the airy welded metal design of the chairs, but also devised the production molds used for mass manufacture. 

Knoll produced the first Bertoia chairs in 1952 — an amazing collection of furniture that reflects a profoundly beautiful study in space, form and function. As with other designers of his time, including Mies van der Rohe, Bertoia found infinite elegance in an industrial material, elevating it beyond its utility into a work of art. 

Today, the Bertoia collection remains one of the great achievements of mid-century modern furniture design by one of the master sculptors of the last century and a proud part of the Knoll heritage.

Pickleball 101

With lifestyle integral to condominium and apartment living, at Optima we love to amp up our amenities to the next level. We’re always on the lookout for cutting edge trends and amenities that will cater to our residents’ lifestyles and interests. So when we noticed the increasing popularity of pickleball in the southwest, we happily adapted to incorporate an indoor pickleball court at our latest project, 7180 Optima Kierland. For those that aren’t familiar with the sport, here’s a little pickleball 101:

Pickleball 101

Visually, pickleball appears quite similar to tennis. Played on a badminton-sized court with a modified tennis net, the sport is a combination of many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. Players use a paddle and a plastic ball with holes, and can choose to play as singles or doubles. Originally, pickleball paddles were made with wood, but have evolved as the sport has gained popularity to be made primarily of lightweight composite materials such as aluminum and graphite. As for the holey ball, holes number 26-40 and the ball can come in a variety of colors but must be solid to meet official international specifications.

Playing Pickleball

In gameplay, the ball is served with an underarm stroke below waist level in an upward arc aimed diagonally. Initially, only the serving side may score a point. A point is earned when one side commits an infringement of the rules, or a fault. Faults include not hitting in the opponent’s diagonal court, not hitting beyond the net, not hitting the ball before the second bounce, hitting the ball out of bounds, among others. Serving alternates players, and points can be scored equally throughout the remainder of gameplay. Watch a full video tutorial on playing pickleball here.

A Brief History of Pickleball

Why call it pickleball? It goes without saying that no pickles are actually involved in the sport. Originating in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, pickleball was the DIY invention of three dads attempting to reinvigorate summertime activities but lacking in proper supplies. The three dads, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, claim two separate origin stories for the sport’s name. According to Pritchard’s wife, it was named after pickleboats. According to McCallum, the Pirchards had a dog named Pickles, who would chase after the ball, and served as inspiration for the new game’s name. 

Pickleball is truly a sport for everyone, and we hope to cultivate new pickleball fanatics in our communities with the unique amenity.

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Glencoe, IL





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