Ward Bennett's story is a remarkable one. His career began at age 13, when he quit school to work in the garment district in New York City. At 15, he designed his first clothing collection; at 16 he left for Europe, where he continued working on fashions. While in Europe, he attended art schools in Florence and Paris, but he was mostly self-taught, with skills that ranged from illustrating, sculpting, and jewelry-making to furniture, interior, and home design. "I learn from people," he once said, referencing a long line of influences, including Hattie Carnegie, Hans Hoffman, and Georgia O'Keefe. Bennett eventually settled back in New York, where his reputation earned him some of the day's most affluent clients: David Rockefeller and Chase Manhattan Bank, Tiffany & Co., Sasaki, Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner. Another—former President Lyndon Baines Johnson—asked Bennett to design a chair for his presidential library that would be "a cross between a barroom chair and a courtroom chair with a little Western saddle." Simplicity and comfort were always his goals, and Bennett says he learned a great deal about lumbar support, the importance of chair arms, and designing the right "pitch" from working with the doctor who treated John F. Kennedy's bad back. Indeed, Bennett designed more than 150 chairs, many of which have become classics, such as the Landmark chair, reintroduced by Geiger in 1993. (Bennett began working with Geiger in 1987, following his collaboration with Brickel Associates.) Bennett, who died in 2003, is also considered the first American to use industrial materials for home furnishings, well before the high-tech look of the 1970s became popular. He was hailed by the American Institute of Architects for "transforming industrial hardware into sublime objects." "There was nothing superfluous about Ward's designs, nothing 'extra,'" says Tim deFiebre, Bennett's former assistant and keeper of his legacy. "They were always honed down to their bare essence, and that is what his work is about." Many of Bennett's designs are in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection as well as in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; he is also in Interior Design magazine's Hall of Fame. "I think it's a real testament to Ward's work that a product 40 years old—the H frame storage—won Best of NeoCon Gold in 2004," says deFiebre. "When I give talks about design, I always say, products may go in and out of favor, depending on the foibles of fashion, but good design is always good." Awards/Recognition Best of NeoCon Gold, H Frame Storage, 2004
|Chair Design: Side chair||Upholstery Material: Leather|
|Upholstered: Yes||Pattern: Solid|
|Frame Material: Metal||Style: Modern|
|Country of Manufacture: United States|
Questions & Answers
Herman Miller ® Geiger Leather Side Chair
Herman Miller began in 1923 as a manufacturer of traditional residential furniture, became a leader in "modern" furniture in the 1930s and 1940s; developed lasting ties through the 1950s with legendary industrial designers who led the company in new directions; transformed the office furniture industry with the first panel system in the 1960s; invented and refined ergonomic work seating in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s; reinvented the geometry of systems furniture in 2000, and is today the second largest office furniture company with customers and locations around the world. Their history of employee participation and ownership and technological innovation has long roots and continues to grow. They have always worked hard to be serious about both people and business. They look at their primary goal as creating great places to work.
George Nelson laid out five tenets of Herman Miller's design philosophy 50 years ago:
While fashion and style have their place, the main criterion for a Herman Miller product has remained constant: Does it truly solve a problem that people care about in a way that improves upon other solutions, or pioneers a new and better answer altogether? The answer is Yes.