Donald Deskey

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Donald Deskey
Donald Deskey.jpg
Born November 23, 1894
Blue Earth, Minnesota
Died April 29, 1989(1989-04-29) (aged 94)
Vero Beach, Florida
Known for Industrial design

Donald Deskey (November 23, 1894 – April 29, 1989) was an American industrial designer.


Deskey was born in Blue Earth, Minnesota. He studied architecture at the University of California, but did not follow that profession, becoming instead an artist, and a pioneer in the field of Industrial design. In Paris he attended the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which influenced his approach to design.[1] He established a design consulting firm in New York City, and later the firm of Deskey-Vollmer (in partnership with Phillip Vollmer) which specialized in furniture and textile design. His designs in this era progressed from Art Deco to Streamline Moderne.

Donald Deskey.Table Lamp, 1927-1931

Deskey first gained note as a designer when he created window displays for the Franklin Simon Department Store in Manhattan in 1926. In the 1930s, he won the competition to design the interiors for Radio City Music Hall. He sold geometrically painted objects through the fashionable shop of Rena Rosenthal, and did custom design work for her.[2] In the 1940s he started the graphic design firm Donald Deskey Associates and made some of the most recognizable icons of the day. He designed the Crest toothpaste packaging, the Tide bullseye as well as a widely used New York City lamppost model.[1][3] In 1940 Deskey developed a decorative form of plywood which had a unique striated, or combed, look to it. It was produced under the name Weldtex and was very popular in the 1950s.[1]

His company is still in operation in Cincinnati. A collection of his work is held by the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.[4] He died in Vero Beach, Florida, the town to which he had retired in 1975.

From 1923 onward Deskey was married to Mary Campbell Douthett,[5] a pianist and later professor of music at Juniata College.[6] They had two sons, Michael and Stephen.


  1. ^ a b c Ottoson, Mary (April 2009). "Weldtex: The Plywood Panel That Grows Old Gracefully": 34. Archived from the original on 2013-10-10. 
  2. ^ ’’At Home in Modernism’’ “[1]
  3. ^ Walsh, Kevin. "The Best and the Brightest". The New York Times. Retrieved July 11, 2001. 
  4. ^ Donald Deskey | People | Collection of Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
  5. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths DESKEY, MICHAEL". New York Times. 2011-12-04. 
  6. ^ "History of the Juniata College Instrumental Program". Juniata College. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 

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