Working with The Herman Miller Collection and Geiger, Various Projects conceived a public showcase of the late New York designer Ward Bennett, whose refined minimalist approach and masterful appropriation of materials were applied to jewelry, glassware, sculpture, furniture, and interiors.
Visitors to the installation were invited to appreciate Bennett’s designs in a wholly new way. Sensual materials transformed archival furniture designs into tactile discoveries. A range of vintage objects and reading material selected by Various Projects clarified the breadth of Bennett’s range and highlight his work with clients such as Sasaki and Tiffany & Co.
When Elizabeth Beer and Brian Janusiak, cofounders of Various Projects, Inc. were invited to collaborate with Herman Miller and Geiger on an exhibit, they were immediately drawn to Ward Bennett. “It instantly seemed like he should be much more known than he is to our generation and generations after. It was a great opportunity for us to tell the story and show why we think it’s so worth knowing,” explains Janusiak.
For Making Sense, Beer and Janusiak specified Ward Bennett furniture pieces in a range of custom materials and finishes, produced by Geiger just for this installation. The Landmark Chair in dark stained ash and charcoal alpaca mohair or raw waxed wood with luminous orange leather are transformed from conference room staples to tactile delights. Two pieces originally introduced in 1966 are entirely modern in natural materials: The Envelope Chair in vegetable-tanned Vachetta leather, and the Sled Chair in Japanese denim. Perhaps the most unexpected piece is the beloved Scissor Chair, enveloped in Icelandic sheepskin that draws the eye, and the hand.
Echoing Bennett’s desire to create furniture and spaces that could be lived in and on, Ward Bennett: Making Sense was an environment intended to engage the senses and fully experience the quality and craft of a master designer.