Donald Deskey, American (1894 - 1989)

Donald Deskey (23 November 1894 – 29 April 1989) was a native of 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. 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.

He 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. 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. Also in 1940, he 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.

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

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