Box by Donald Deskey
Painted wood and silver leaf, 1928
Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Valerie Steele in her 1988 book Paris Fashion: A Cultural History, notes a difference between Parisian and American designers in the past. The French were always eager to glorify the fashion designer---Worth, Poiret, Chanel and Dior, while the Americans tended to glorify American style rather than individuals. Americans like Claire McCardle do not have the same name recognition as Elsa Schiaparelli.
Donald Deskey 1894-1989
And neither does Donald Deskey, but his industrial design defined American Art Deco. After visiting the 1925 Paris Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes he went on to win the competition to design Radio City Music Hall in New York in the 1930s.
Carpet at Radio City
I think this is the dressing room for the theatre.
The public lounges for men and women on each floor
were perfectly modern.
His wallpaper for the men's lounges featured a cartoon-like
assemblage of men's indulgences
called The History of Tobacco.
The carpet pattern is a cubist version of musical instruments called a Still Life with Violins.
He also did a Singing Woman carpet.
The apartment at the top of Radio City Music Hall
is the only surviving Deskey interior residence.
You can rent it for events but they remove the furniture.
Deskey created furniture and accessories that set a style.
My parents married in the 1930s
and furnished their New York apartment
in Deskey knockoffs.
I hope my sister still has the lamp we had that was inspired by this Deskey piece.
Here's a Deskey desk
Which makes me wonder who designed this
Singer Sewing Machine Cabinet.
I still have one that my mother bought in the 1940s.
Aluminum and Bakelite
plastic cocktail shaker
Donald Deskey was born November 23, 1894 so give him a toast with a martini from your art deco cocktail shaker on his 120th birthday this week.
Or buy a scarf and jewelry from the Metropolitan Museum based on the box at the top of the page
Deskey's archives are at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum. Click on these links:.