The collection
Coffee table. Circular black table top set on tubular steel legs that bend at the bottom and meet to form a cross at the center.

Coffee Table

Designed by
Donald Deskey (1894–1989)
Chromium-plated tubular steel, plastic laminate
Produced by
Ypsilanti Reed Furniture Company, Ionia, Michigan
42.5 x 91.5 x 91.5 cm

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, gift of Victoria Barr from the Estate of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred H. Barr Jr., D88.140.1

Deskey is best known for his interiors and furniture for Radio City Music Hall in New York. He often experimented with newer materials like Formica and cork in his 1930s interiors and his furniture. This table and other pieces that Deskey designed in tubular steel and plastic laminate were inspired by Marcel Breuer’s innovative furniture forms of 1928, which Deskey would likely have seen on his visit to the Bauhaus.

Tubular steel furniture was not being made in North America at that time, and Deskey began to experiment with manufacturing possibilities in Ypsilanti Reed’s Michigan factory, which already had machinery for bending and shaping natural rattan tubes for its reed furniture.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, photo: Denis Farley.