Peter Danko grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, watching his father build ship models for the U.S. Navy and his mother paint nature scenes. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1971 with a degree in fine arts and worked a number of odd jobs while trying to promote his artwork. Danko took a job carving claws for furniture at Georgetown Leather Design, where he discovered his passion for working with wood and creating sculptural furniture. His molded-plywood (or ply-bent) chairs achieved notoriety in the 1980s after the Museum of Modern Art bought and displayed one in 1978. A few years later, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum selected him to design chairs for their food court. Danko prefers using older and "green" materials, such as salvaged wood, and has written a manifesto for sustainable design, which encourages awareness of materials among designers and consumers. He recently opened his own design company, Peter Danko Design, and creates environmentally friendly furniture, including chairs made with repurposed seat belts.