Bio of Daniel Wenger

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After college Daniel worked as a computer programmer with the US Space Program from its inception in 1957. He returned to school in 1963 to obtain a PhD in theoretical physics, followed by a period as a professor of physics. During this time, continuing his life-long enjoyment of working with his hands, he developed skill with leather and steel. Inspired by a chair from his childhood home in Brentwood, California, he directed his design aesthetic to making a chair using leather and steel. He created his Lotus chair in 1969 while living in Topanga Canyon, California. The success of the Lotus chair, his first furniture piece, and the joy of creating it catalyzed a major change in his life. He decided to leave the academic world and to immerse himself in design and fabrication.

When asked what school of design influenced him, his answer always included his studies in physics and mathematics from which the notions of symmetry and minimalism were dominant.

During the winter of 1969-70, he traveled to London, England, and explored chair production there. After making two versions of the Lotus chair in London he returned to California and established his design and living studio in a 20’x20’x20’ space in the old Pacific Lumber yard in the town of Soquel on the Monterey Bay. His body of work during the ensuing decade includes over 30 different styles of furniture, instructional devices for astronomy and navigation, the UniGlobe, a unique new sundial, the Wenger Sundial, and his truncated hexahedron cube structure in its many manifestations. He used the UniGlobe to teach celestial navigation at the beach in Santa Cruz. In the late 70's a Wenger Sundial was installed in San Lorenzo Park and another at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. A version of the cube with three hammocks was displayed in the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History in 2011. During the 70's his furniture sold in Topanga Canyon, Los Angeles, Carmel, Monterey, Santa Cruz, the Bay Area and other coastal California locations and has, over the years, earned the attention of collectors. The current interest in mid-century modern design encompasses his work.
By 1979 Daniel believed that he had made his last chair.

In the early 80's he returned to his former activities with computers. After a few years as a consultant in Silicon Valley he became Computing Director for the Humanities Division at UC Santa Cruz. After leaving UCSC in 1999 Daniel returned to design and, using lasers and glass spheres, produced again his unique sundial. The sundial has been specifically made for and placed in many locations in the US and in Mexico, Chile, England and Germany.

In 2009 Daniel was approached by Los Angeles designers Scott and Joanna Nadeau with a request to recreate the Lotus chair. They had bought and regretted later selling one of his original chairs. With this stimulus, and the encouragement of his wife Katherine, he reestablished his furniture-making studio at their home in Santa Cruz.

In 2014 Daniel's son Sam joined him in the furniture design and fabrication process and that union has brought new excitement and inspiration to their work.

Pieces are currently on display at Lawson-Fenning in Los Angeles, CA, Totokaelo, Seattle, WA, Spence & Lyda, Sydney, Australia, and at Original in Berlin, Berlin, Germany.