About the ArthurRose Studio

The Smashfold studio was named by JW Bennet on behalf of his grandparents, Arthur and Rose.

When I offered backers the opportunity to name my studio, I never expected to meet someone with a history I was so genuinely pleased and proud to be a part of.

Here, JW tells their story in his own words:

Arthur and Rose

“I’ve always felt that a plaque on a wall because of a donation isn’t quite as good as having something to tell people that’s more meaningful when they ask about it. So please, feel free to share this when it feels appropriate.

The name is after my maternal grandparents Arthur and Rosel Wolf. My grandfather passed away a little over five years ago, and my grandmother earlier this year, but I always imagine them together, even when something is named after them, and I’m mostly telling my grandfather’s story. It’s also a story about overcoming disability, textiles, and London; which is why I scrapped together enough to make my pledge possible.

Arthur was born outside of Vienna in 1910. While he was safe from the horrors of WWI, the war still deprived him of the doctors he needed to avoid his eyes deteriorating from a genetic condition. He barely finished basic education because of it, and had to join his father’s company to get a job at their shirt factory. Despite nearing legal blindness, he worked both as a designer – including three patents for shirt collars and collar stays – and a traveling salesman. In his downtime he indulged in his love of opera.

As the ’30s rolled around, and the Nazis grew to power, Arthur proudly added smuggler to what would be a number of job titles. Using his papers to travel from country to country, he would hide money, gold, and valuables in the powdered detergent he keep with him as part of his sales presentations; helping his fellow Jewish families try to move their assets out of Germany and Austria, as well as others looking to leave the brewing tensions.

Eventually, things got bad enough, it was time to leave Austria behind. The farthest he could manage to get himself and his family using the visas he had, was none other than London. While they only stayed there for about a year before finally arranging to immigrate to the USA, without that chance to cross the Channel they would have been trapped.

Once he settled in the USA, he set about doing what he knew best. He found business partners to start a shirt factory, and he found a good opera house (his name is still up at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC). He would also meet Rosel, and the two were married for around 70 years. During that time, he turned the small profits of making shirts, into being a real estate developer, building super and landlord, and stock trader; with some world traveling on the side. All while unable to read any more, and barely able to see the people in his life.

In his 80s, he could still identify a button laying machine’s make and serial number by touch because it was in his factory forty years earlier.

A photo of them both together, from Arthur's 99th birthday partyA photo of them both together, from Arthur’s 99th birthday party

Arthur and Rose never forgot where they came from. They made a point to not only hire immigrants, but to help them and their children get tutoring in English – even if that meant teaching directly – and Arthur made sure his two daughters, four grandchildren, and the four of his great grandchildren he got to meet before passing on, never saw him have a moment of sadness about his disability.

He had the strength to always know the bright side of life, and the humility to ask for help when he needed it. Which was a role-model that I needed desperately while I was at my lowest with my own mental health concerns.

So without textiles and London, I wouldn’t be here. And without seeing Arthur and Rose’s strength and grace in dealing with hardships they made sure I would be safe from, I might not have made it through my own Real Monster doing its worst.

So this dedication is for them.

And thank you for indulging me. I hope that when you see their names, some of their inspiration, and support goes out to you to keep up bringing awareness and comfort to others.”