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Paldao "Ectoplastic" Desk (No. 4106)

A work made of paldao, acacia burl, imitation leather, and brass tacks.

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  • A work made of paldao, acacia burl, imitation leather, and brass tacks.


c. 1940


Gilbert Rohde
American, 1894–1944
Made by the Herman Miller Furniture Company, founded 1923

About this artwork

Through his nearly two decades of work for the Herman Miller Furniture Company, Gilbert Rohde helped define American modern design in the first half of the 20th century. In 1940 he created the Paldao Group, an 80-piece suite of furniture influenced by the biomorphic shapes associated with Surrealism. Rohde himself considered the desk from this group to be such a successful example of an undulating, organic, yet wholly modern form that he used the term ectoplastic to describe it. Reduced to a series of masses and planes, its top appears to float just above the pedestal, which gives it a sculptural effect. Here Rohde merged the avant-garde with the old-fashioned, combining precious paldao and acacia woods with long-established decorative elements, and taking advantage of contemporary material technologies by using imitation rather than real leather.


Currently Off View


Arts of the Americas


Gilbert Rohde


Paldao "Ectoplastic" Desk (No. 4106)


United States


c. 1940


Paldao, acacia burl, imitation leather, and brass tacks


74.9 × 132.1 × 81.3 cm (29 1/2 × 52 × 32 in.)

Credit Line

Stanley and Polly Stone Endowment; American Art Purchase Fund

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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