Donald Deskey 1894–1989

Donald Deskey, born in 1894 in Blue Earth, Minnesota, is one of America’s most prolific designers. For his formal training, Deskey began at the University of California Berkeley and later moved to the San Francisco Institute of Art before attending The Art Institute of Chicago. In 1920, in what would prove to be a formative experience, Deskey moved to Paris where he was exposed to the latest Art Deco style. Back in New York by 1926, Deskey started his career in advertising and quickly became known for his innovative designs. When his client Reynolds Metals asked him to find a new use for their aluminum foil, he ingeniously designed a series of stylish foiled wallpaper that was later put into production by F. Schumacher & Company. His design sensibility captured the attention of New York City’s most illustrious residents and Deskey completed interiors for Adam Gimbel, John D. Rockefeller and Abby Aldridge Rockefeller among others. In arguably his most famous commission, Deskey designed the interiors of Radio City Music Hall. In 1939, Deskey collaborated with the Royal Metal Manufacturing Co. to produce a suite of furniture for the New York World’s Fair World of Tomorrow exhibition. In 1943, he established Donald Deskey and Associates and the following year was one of fifteen founding members of the Society of Industrial Designers. A champion of both product and industrial design, Deskey rewrote the way people thought about designed objects. His design for a city lamppost is still in use in New York City today, and he crafted landmark campaigns for Proctor and Gamble, Crest toothpaste, as well as Tide Detergent. Deskey died in 1989. Today his work can be found in museum collections such as the Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among many others across America.

Upcoming Lots Donald Deskey

DONALD DESKEY, Andirons, pair | ragoarts.com

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Donald Deskey

Andirons, pair

estimate: $700–900

Auction Results Donald Deskey

DONALD DESKEY, Game table commissioned for a Gramercy Park speakeasy | ragoarts.com

Donald Deskey

Game table commissioned for a Gramercy Park speakeasy

estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $8,750
DONALD DESKEY, Rare lamp | ragoarts.com

Donald Deskey

Rare lamp

estimate: $8,000–10,000
result: $47,500
DONALD DESKEY, Fireplace stand | ragoarts.com

Donald Deskey

Fireplace stand

estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $750
DONALD DESKEY, table lamp | ragoarts.com

Donald Deskey

table lamp

estimate: $6,000–9,000
result: $12,350
DONALD DESKEY, andirons, pair | ragoarts.com

Donald Deskey

andirons, pair

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $2,080
DONALD DESKEY, andirons, pair | ragoarts.com

Donald Deskey

andirons, pair

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $4,375
DONALD DESKEY, three-piece fireplace set | ragoarts.com

Donald Deskey

three-piece fireplace set

estimate: $700–900
result: $375
DONALD DESKEY, Untitled (New York Harbor) | ragoarts.com

Donald Deskey

Untitled (New York Harbor)

estimate: $1,200–1,800
result: $1,000
DONALD DESKEY, Fireplace set | ragoarts.com

Donald Deskey

Fireplace set

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $1,625