Chest of Drawers

Accession Number

Chest of Drawers

Norman Bel Geddes

Object Creation Date
designed 1928; produced 1929-1932

Medium & Support
enameled steel, chrome-plated metal, brass and wood

44 in x 30 in x 20 in (111.76 cm x 76.2 cm x 50.8 cm)

Credit Line
Bequest of Herbert W. and Susan L. Johe

Label copy
Gallery Rotation Spring 2013
Norman Bel Geddes
United States, 1893–1958
Chest of Drawers
circa 1930
Enameled steel, chrome-plated metal, brass, and wood
Manufactured by The Simmons Company
Gift of Herbert and Susan Johe, 2012/1.293
Bringing the theatrical flair of his early career as a stage designer to the realm of industrial design, Norman Bel Geddes set out to give objects of the “machine age” an appropriately spectacular, aerodynamic form. “Streamlining” became his principle and style, as he strove to express the speed and efficiency of the modern era.
Though Bel Geddes’s most dramatic use of streamlining involved planes, trains, and automobiles (not to mention cocktail shakers), the aesthetic is also visible in the slightly curved edges and flashing chrome inset of this metal chest of drawers. Part of a six-piece bedroom set for the well-known Simmons Company, it represents Bel Geddes’s attempt to introduce metal into domestic furnishings. Rather than disguising the metal—often seen as a cold, impersonal material—Bel Geddes hoped the set’s affordability and availability in multiple colors would render it appealing to the general public. Though neither these features nor a publicity campaign were enough to overcome most consumers’ reluctance to bring metal into the bedroom, streamlining would become the signature style of American modernity.

Physical Description
Four-legged black chest of drawers in metal, with contrasting chrome-plated metal in the drawer handles and a thin strip outlining the facade.

Primary Object Classification
Furniture and Furniture Accessories

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)
Decorative Arts

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