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The Mysterious Link Between the 1957 Cadillac Grille and a Chair

By: jwilde

Where does design inspiration come from? A chair maybe?

bertoia diamond chair 1957 cadillac
Ed Glowacke, 1957 Cadillac, and the Bertoia Diamond chair. Photo courtesy of GM Archive.

Was the Cadillac grille inspired by a chair? That's what I wondered when I saw this photo.

The two magnificent objects in this photo are the 1957 Cadillac and the Bertoia Diamond Chair.

This is not some random chair that happened to be available at the time this photo was taken. No, this scene was deliberately staged.

The man you see leaning on the chair is Ed Glowacke, Chief of Cadillac Studio.

Glowacke was known for his high standards for design, impeccable taste and immaculate attire.

Glowacke's hands rest prominently on the Bertoia Diamond chair and his eyes are fixed on the front view of a 1957 Cadillac.

Mr. Glowacke is clearly making a connection between the two objects.

But what is the connection?

I don’t know, so let's indulge in a bit of speculation, shall we?

In 1954 Cadillac transitioned to a visually lighter grille design made up of a grid of small rectangles. This grille design is commonly referred to as an "egg crate" grille.

In my article, Introducing the Bertoia Diamond Chair, we learned that the diamond chair was introduced in 1952.

So, the Diamond Chair did come before the egg crate style grille in 1954. Therefore, it could have served as inspiration for the 1954 Cadillac grille.

But then I found something completely unexpected.

Cadillac Grille Origins

Cadillac design sketch by Ed Glowacke in 1948
Cadillac design rendering by Ed Glowacke in 1948. Photo courtesy of GM Archive.

Holy Toledo, look at the grille on this concept sketch from 1948!

I found this Cadillac design sketch in the book "The Cars of Harley Earl," written by David W Temple.

This Cadillac concept rendering was done by Ed Glowacke in 1948, before he became Chief of Cadillac Studio.

It is clear from design sketch that a visually lighter rectangular grid grille design was envisioned years before the Diamond Chair was introduced.

This Cadillac design sketch from 1948 quickly put an end to my speculation that the Bertoia Diamond Chair had anything to do with the rectangular grid design of the Cadillac grille in 1954.

Conclusion

I think it's safe to say that the Bertoia Diamond chair wasn't directly the inspiration for the Cadillac grille.

However, I think it's safe to say that Mr. Glowacke used the Bertoia Diamond chair to show the connection between modern design and Cadillac design.

Given Mr. Glowacke's credentials for excellence in design he must have thought highly of the Bertoia Diamond chair.

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