Ward Bennett began his design career at age 13, when he quit school to work in the garment district in New York City. At age 15, he designed his first clothing collection; at age 16 he left for Europe where he continued working on fashions. It was while Bennett was in Europe that he attended art schools in Florence and Paris. But the designer considered himself mostly self-taught, with skills that ranged from illustrating, sculpting and jewelry-making to furniture, interior and home design.
Bennett eventually settled back in New York where his reputation earned him some of the days most affluent clients: David Rockefeller and Chase Manhattan Bank, Tiffany & Co., Sasaki, Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli and Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner. Former President Lyndon 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". Ward Bennett designed more than 150 chairs in his lifetime.
Bennett, who died in 2003, is 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." Many of Bennetts designs are in the Museum of Modern Arts permanent collection as well as in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; he is also in Interior Design magazines Hall of Fame.