The comeback of “El Butaque” in Mexican 20th century furniture design came with American designer William Spratling, “Father of Mexican Contemporary Silver”. Spratling was not only well known for his creations in silver, but also for his emblematic furniture designs… All of Spratling’s furniture pieces were handmade by local carpenters under his direction, and they represent the essence of pure Mexican craftsmanship. Bill redesigned the butaque chair in a unique “ranchero style” and started to produce his iconic “butaquitos” at his firm Spratling y Artesanos in Taxco in the 1930’s. (See my post: Mexican Modernism – Furniture Design in Mexico – Part # 4). Both, larger and smaller butaque chairs were produced, with and without armrests:

A William Spratling Butaque (ca. 1940´s)

Butaque Chair designed by William Spratling (ca. 1940’s)

Butaquito designed by William Spratling

Pair of William Spratling Butaques

Hectór Aguilar began his career as the shop manager for William Spratling’s Taller de las Delicias in 1936. Aguilar then left Las Delicias in 1939 taking a number of silversmiths with him to found the Taller Borda, with the financial support from his wife and several friends. By 1948 he formed a new company, Talleres Borda, S.A. de C.V. which quickly became one of the premier retailer silver outlets in Taxco. Taller Borda sold a full line of sterling jewelry, hollowware, flatware and furniture pieces, all produced at the Aguilar workshops. The firm prospered for many years until its closure in 1962. Below I have included a butaca armchair produced by the Héctor Aguilar workshops:

Butaca Chair designed by Héctor Aguilar

Another outstanding Mexican artisan and designer who started his career in Taxco, at Casa Grande, is Antonio Frausto. He became famous for his highly successful Mexican Colonial designs made in juniper, pine and exotic wood species from the state of Guerrero. Frausto designed complete furniture sets for the interiors of Mexican Modernism architects Francisco Artigas, Manuel Parra and Max Cetto, just to name a few. His emblematic Mexican Colonial furniture pieces can be found at Haciendas and Ranches of Mexican Presidents, politicians, celebrities and wealthy businessmen; even today, you may recognize Don Antonio’s furniture designs at prestigious Mexican Colonial hotels and restaurants. His workshop, Artesanos de México, S.A. produced furniture lines including all sorts of cabinets with attractive ironworks, office furniture, dining and living room sets, bedrooms, chairs, tables and benches. My favorites, Don Antonio´s “bargueños” are without a doubt his personal trademark, but these will be described in another post dedicated to furniture from the “Mexicanismo” movement.
Since the 1950’s Don Antonio’s workshop produced a complete variety of “butacas” in juniper wood and “vaqueta” leather. Regrettably, most of his furniture production does not carry any label or signature; his creations are very often mistaken for designs attributed to William Spratling, Francisco Artigas, Luis Barragán or even Clara Porset.

A Butaca Armchair from the Artesanos de México catalog (1967)

Butaca Armchair designed by Antonio Frausto (1960’s)

Butaca Armchair designed by Antonio Frausto (1960’s)

Small Butaca Chair by Antonio Frausto (1960’s)

to be continued in part # 4
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