Shiny black dressing table with dramatic curves and ivory-colored detailing.

Dressing Table

Designed 1929-30, reproduced 2022
Joseph Urban (American, b. Austria, 1872-1933), designer
Mallin Furniture Co. (American, 1929-1953), original manufacturer
Terry Moore (American, b. Wales, b. 1952), maker of reproduction
Mark Adams (American, b. 1950), maker of urethane inlay and embellishments

ebonized cherry with urethane plastic

Urban replicated the elegant design for Elaine’s built-in dressing table in the creation of a desk in the adjacent corner of her bedroom. The desk is absent from this installation but is documented in archival photographs. Like the room’s occasional table, these forms recall the luxe, neoclassically-inspired furniture of the French moderne designer Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann.

A small rectangular table made with shimmering dark wood and detailed with ivory and white silk tassels.
“Fuseaux” Cabinet, circa 1925, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann (French, 1879-1933), Macassar ebony, ivory, silk and silvered bronze, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Purchase, Edward C. Moore Jr. Gift, 1925

Yet, instead of using exotic woods and ivory, Urban chose lacquered pine and a new plastic, called Pyralin, for the inlays, the fluted elements at the top of the legs, and the drawer pulls. Precursors to the Wormser dressing table and desk form appeared in Urban’s 1928 exhibition boudoir Repose. A comparison shows that Urban refined his earlier design for the form, improving its silhouette and inlays to instill the Wormser pieces with a lighter, more graceful air.

Black and white photo of a curved black dressing table in an interior designed by Joseph Urban.
Repose (detail), American Designers’ Gallery, New York, designed by Joseph Urban, 1928. Joseph Urban Archive, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University