This is an extremely rare and sought after industrial steel desk designed by Norman Bel Geddes in the 1930’s for Simmons Furniture Company. We found the desk at an antique store in Northern California. The paint was chipped, the body had rust, and the linoleum top was destroyed.
We stripped the old paint and treated the rust areas. We then went about fixing several dents and dings that the desk had suffered over the past 90 years. We searched and searched until we located just the right color to match the original paint. We then painted and coated the body. We also decided to paint the drawer white rather than repaint it the same color as the body.
The linoleum on the desk top was sanded, and sanded, and sanded, until the wood substrate below was fully exposed. We then scoured back alley cabinet shops until we located a piece of linoleum that closely matched the original. The top was then replaced using industrial contact cement to ensure a lifetime of durability. Much time and sweat, and some blood went into restoring this piece, and we absolutely love its revivified state.
Norman Bel Geddes was born Norman Melancton Geddes in Adrian, Michigan, and raised in New Philadelphia, Ohio. When he married a woman named Helen Belle Schneider in 1916, they incorporated their names to Bel Geddes. Their daughter was well known actress Barbara Bel Geddes.
Geddes helped popularize the Streamlined aesthetic in the 1930s and ’40s, with designs for products like the red-white-and-blue Patriot radio for Emerson and the curvaceous Soda King seltzer bottle for Walter Kidde, as well as numerous unrealized designs, like that of a bullet-shaped train with an aluminum body. The self-taught Geddes was an accomplished theatrical designer, which enabled him to put his forward-thinking ideas into enticing form, as in his best-known project, the General Motors pavilion and its Futurama exhibit at the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York. There, Geddes created a model of automobile-centric 1960 America, complete with roadways that anticipated the interstate highway system of the 1950s.
Other farsighted Geddes designs included those for prefab housing, streamlined cars (some of whose features the automobile industry adopted decades later) and a stadium for the Brooklyn Dodgers with a suspended roof that could slide open in good weather — an idea that was realized 20 years later in the Houston Astrodome. His predictions for the future, in a 1931 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal, included pronouncements like: “Every roof will be a garden” and “Courses and lectures will be broadcast by television from key cities to hundreds of rural branches.” An accompanying book, “Norman Bel Geddes Designs America” (Abrams), which will be published in November, is the first to explore Geddes’s life and career in its entirety.
Bel Geddes designed the desk for sale here as part of a metal bedroom furniture collection that was introduced in 1932 by the Simmons Furniture Company. Several of his Simmons designs are on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brooklyn Museum to this day. If you are looking for an item to wow your house guests or inspire imagination in just about anyone, this is the piece for you.
Dimensions are 34" wide by 19 1/2" deep by 31" high.
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