Donald Deskey

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Image features a design for chromium-plated bronze floor lamp for the print room of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller’s Topside Gallery in the Rockefeller townhouse at 10 W 54th Street, New York, New York. Above at center, object shown in elevation: circular foot in brushed chromium supports four lengths of rectangular brushed chromium straps that angle upward, stabilized by a pair of rings below and a single ring above, to hold polished chromium, semispherical shade. Below, object shown in plan. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, Matron of Modern Design
In celebration of Women’s History Month, March Object of the Day posts highlight women designers—and  today, patrons—in the collection. While this month we’ve been celebrating women designers, today’s post considers the role played by women patrons in the arts, architecture, and design.[1] Where modernism in America is concerned, one of the most influential actors in...
Image features design for rectilinear air purifier in metal and wood laminate with hand-holds and modern glass vases displayed on top. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Let’s Clear the Air: The Rise of the Domestic Air Purifier
In ancient Greece, air (along with earth, water, fire, and aether) was one of the five elements thought to comprise all substances. Questions of air quality began to arise in the Middle Ages, even before the composition of the atmosphere was discovered.[1] In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as coal became deeply entrenched in both...
Image features a design for an undersea lounge seen in elevation. Drawing mounted on presentation board with wide margin at right, superimposed by text label. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
The Swimmin’ Sixties: Donald Deskey Associates’ Undersea Lounge
In the early twentieth century, designers often put their work out to sea. Le Corbusier, Swiss-French pioneer of modern architecture, wrote in his seminal 1931 treatise Towards A New Architecture that “a seriously-minded architect (…) will find in a steamship his freedom from an age-long but contemptible enslavement to the past.”[1] The next year, American...
Image features an interior space with dining tables and a frozen food counter. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Corporate Fare, Frozen: A Donald Deskey Associates’ Cafeteria Concept
In a 1947 article on frozen food for Popular Mechanics, Andrew Hamilton anticipated that “before long you may see frozen dinners served in hotels, trains, planes, ships, factories, offices and your own home.”[1] Earl E. Hoyt Jr., designer and draftsman at Donald Deskey Associates (DDA) between 1960 and 1965, sought to realize Hamilton’s prophecy in...
We All Scream for Ice Cream Packaging
The prolific industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss (1904-1972) is one of America’s most important industrial designers. He produced a number of the twentieth century’s most iconic designs, including small scale objects such as the Model 302 telephone and Honeywell’s T-86 thermostat as well as monumental works like the Twentieth Century Limited, a new locomotive whose streamlined exterior...
All-American Modernism
In 1924, the US Secretary of State advised the French government that the United States would not participate in the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris, because American manufacturers had “little or nothing to display” that would meet the French admissibility requirements of new inspiration, and originality. Yet, America could...
An isometric view of a prefabricated sportsman's cabin with slanted shed roof. Rooms include living area with sofa and fireplace, and sleeping quarter with three beds (two are bunked). This drawing was published in published in Robert W. Marks, "Donald Deskey's Sportshack..." Esquire, vol. 14 (August, 1940), p. 69. A model of Sportshack was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's, Contemporary Industrial Design exhibition in 1940 and life-size at the America at Home exhibition in the 1940 season of the 1939-40 New York World's Fair.
Living Modern
In 1939, the pioneering industrial designer Donald Deskey, was asked to participate in the Contemporary Industrial Arts Exhibition to be held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in early 1940.  For his project, he designed a prefabricated weekend cabin, called “Sportshack,” depicted in this air-brush rendering. The many innovations in the house included a large...
Live Well Collaborative
I recently returned from Cincinnati, where I gave a talk on the early career of Donald Deskey, whose archive is held at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. I was asked to speak by the University of Cincinnati and by Deskey Associates, headquartered in Cincinnati, in conjunction with their joint installation on Donald Deskey’s design career. Among...