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Boullée Chair Model

This is a Chair model. It was designed by Ward Bennett. It is dated 1991 and we acquired it in 2010. Its medium is painted wood, felt, cardboard. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

The chair models Ward Bennett designed for the Geiger furniture company belong to a group introduced in 1991 were titled Charpentiers after the skilled artisans who were part of the compagnonnage movement in France (making these pieces the spiritual and aesthetic descendants of the staircase models in the museum’s collection, some of which were created by the charpentiers guild of the compagnonnage.)
The furniture Bennett designed for Geiger shows the use of simplified line and bold geometries consistent with his work in other media. His design process for furniture appears to rely heavily on models. Two chair models give the dimensions of the full-size chair and cushion on the base of the seat. Another indicates possible alternatives of textile or wood back.
At the time, the Geiger pieces were described as the largest single design statement of Bennett's six-decade career, having taken nearly three years to design and produce after travel and continuous investigations of French architecture and design along with conversations with modern-day charpentiers. These experiences led Bennett to design high quality, durable furniture that could be industrially produced, and with an aesthetic of its era, yet timeless. The models represent the Boullée, Ledoux, Nettuno (variant), and Paladio (spelled with one “l”) chairs.
These chair models are proposed for acquisition along with a selection of Bennett’s prototype models for ceramic forms and design and production process drawings for flatware. The design process materials under consideration would expand our understanding and collection of Bennett’s work. In addition, acquisitions involving material in one department that support holdings in other departments contribute to the strength of our permanent holdings.

This object was donated by David McCorkle. It is credited Gift of David McCorkle and Ernest Hood.

  • Staircase Model (France)
  • mahogany, ebony, pear or sycamore, oak; biscuit porcelain.
  • Gift of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw.
  • 2007-45-12
This object has not been digitized yet.
  • Mirror, ca. 1860
  • carved, gessoed and gilt wood, mirrored glass, metal.
  • Gift of Unknown Donor.
  • n-a-5059

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 41.9 x 27.3 x 26.7 cm (16 1/2 x 10 3/4 x 10 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Boullée Chair Model; Designed by Ward Bennett (American, 1917–2003); USA; painted wood, felt, cardboard; H x W x D: 41.9 x 27.3 x 26.7 cm (16 1/2 x 10 3/4 x 10 1/2 in.); Gift of David McCorkle and Ernest Hood; 2010-12-23

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Boullée Chair Model |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=6 February 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>