Bertoia, who was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States in 1930, met Florence Knoll
at the famous Cranbrook Academy of Art
. While he started working on chair designs in California, collaborating with Charles Eames
, another Cranbrook alumnus, he moved to Pennsylvania to develop an original seating collection in 1951. Florence and Hans Knoll encouraged Bertoia to explore whatever he liked, and he was immediately drawn to the idea of utilizing steel wire in developing a new chair design. To further soften the hard shell of the woven-wire, furniture designer Richard Schultz was asked to help Bertoia in coming up with ideas for the upholstery. The collection was introduced by Knoll
in 1952 and quickly became a classic. The success of the collection allowed Bertoia to move away from furniture design and devote himself entirely to his art.