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Object Timeline

-0001

1932

  • Work on this object began.

1975

  • We acquired this object.

2014

2019

  • You found it!

Drawing, Design for "Singing Women" Carpet, Radio City Music Hall Main Auditorium, New York, NY

This is a Drawing. It was designed by Donald Deskey and from the office of Donald Deskey Associates and drafted by Donald Deskey. We acquired it in 1975. Its medium is brush and brown, tan, and purple gouache, graphite on heavy cream wove paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

Among Donald Deskey’s most impressive and memorable contributions to American design were his elegant interiors for Radio City Music Hall, one of the first projects that sealed his future fate as a leader in an emerging industrial design profession. Though Deskey — relatively unknown to average person at that time — was not well paid for the project, his contract was extensive in scope: He ultimately designed the music venue’s lobby furniture, wall coverings, lighting fixtures, railings, mirrors, and carpeting, such as the repeat pattern of stylized women’s profiles he created for the 5,901-seat auditorium. Called Singing Women, the wavy-haired, open-mouthed faces alternate in color between tan and purple forming a chevron-like arrangement. In 1978, the building was marked for demolition before gaining landmark status and a decade-long restoration began in 1990s. Thanks in large part to the Deskey Archives at Cooper-Hewitt and particularly this drawing dated 1932 — the same year Radio City opened to the public — an architectural team was able to accurately replicate Deskey’s original design using wool and nylon fiber to revive it to its original grandeur.

This object was donated by Donald Deskey and Rachel Hunnicutt.

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Cite this object as

Drawing, Design for "Singing Women" Carpet, Radio City Music Hall Main Auditorium, New York, NY; Designed by Donald Deskey (American, 1894–1989); USA; brush and brown, tan, and purple gouache, graphite on heavy cream wove paper; 1975-11-56

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Making Design.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18487013/ |title=Drawing, Design for "Singing Women" Carpet, Radio City Music Hall Main Auditorium, New York, NY |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=19 October 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>