Minnesota born Donald Desky studied architecture for two years in California though after a visit to the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in 1925 and the Bauhaus in 1926 he ultimately pursued a career in industrial design. With his partner Phillip Vollmer he established the firm of Desky-Vollmer (1927-1931) in New York City specializing in furniture and fabric design ranging from Art Deco to Modern in motif. His clients included Mrs. John D. Rockefeller and Adam Gimbel. Desky also sold original designs and executed commissions through the firm Rena Rosenthal Studio in Manhattan. Desky’s largest commission, the design and decoration of public and private spaces for the newly constructed Radio City Music Hall in New York City, including the private office of Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel, sealed his legacy as one of the top industrial and interior designers in the world. Many of Desky’s furniture, fabric, and industrial designs from this era are held in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum on Manhattan’s Museum Mile.
Artist to Rena Rosenthal*, New York
Janet Marqusee Fine Ats Ltd.
Private collection, New York
*Rena Rosenthal (1880-1966) was an early champion of international decorative arts and fashion, particularly during the early years of modernism in North America, through her retail shop on Manhattan’s trendy Madison Avenue. Her promotion of the applied arts in the modernist style helped launch the careers of a number of noted designers including Donald Desky. Rosenthal’s clients included individuals like Geoffrey Beene and institutions such as Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. She was the primary source for German pottery and Austrian metalwork featured at the Worcester Art Museum’s third annual exhibit of modern decorative arts in 1929.