The versatile Parsons Line – Tables for table freaks

Leave a comment


The Parsons Line is probably Don S. Shoemaker´s most rectilinear and functional furniture design line. This time he overlooks the charms of nature in favor of a rigorous abstract approach to design. While there were significant changes in the manufacturing techniques of the post-war time like aluminum casting and bonding wood, this industrial furniture production brought back the concept of built-in obsolescence or disposable furniture. As a response to this movement Don maintained the principles of craftsmanship and use of precious woods that are evident in this line which most purely expresses immutability, strength and vastness. He kept loyal to his principle of beauty and handcrafted furniture.

This line included everything that his passionate followers and collectors could think of to have their homes or flats completely furnished á la Shoemaker: coordinating suites of furniture for living room and dining room, matching cabinets and sideboards, all kinds of table sizes, service carts, office as well as bedroom sets, etc. I will try to present all of them to you within a reasonable period of time.

I will start with the Parsons tables, as there were a total of 11 different sizes to choose from! No other of Don´s design lines had this versatile number of table sizes and shapes.

The vintage SEÑAL, S.A. catalog page above shows us three Parsons table sizes: a rectangular dining table, a side table and a square coffee table. The design of these tables is pure and rectilinear. All of the Parsons tables came with a clean parquetry top and were produced in rosewood. Here we have a pair of Parsons tables coming in different sizes:

These tables were meant to fit in your living room, your dining room, your bedroom, your office, or any imaginable space to keep your home impregnated with the unmistakable Shoemaker style! Personally, I prefer Don´s organic design lines, but a significant number of his clients favored these furniture pieces.

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

@donshoemaker.com

For the most demanding clientele – Don´s Sling dining room set

Leave a comment


Many of my readers have asked me about Don´s dining room sets with combining cupboards and cabinets. For this week I have decided to write about the Sling dining room set, the favorite among Don´s dedicated customers:

The Sling dining room was the most exclusive dining room set within Don´s repertoire. The complete set consisted of a rectangular dining table with parquetry top handcrafted in cueramo tropical wood, 8 or more Sling dining chairs (with and without armrests) in solid rosewood and a matching cabinet available in three sizes. The dining table´s shape has the unmistakable “Shoemaker” style:

The leather upholstery of these Sling dining chairs could be ordered in different colors as displayed in the vintage catalog page above, however, most Shoemakeristis preferred the traditional black leather…

The shape of the Sling cabinet remained always the same, but depending on the size of the dining room or the amount of different things that you wanted to display, the cupboard started with a 2-door display cabinet, the next version had on one side a 2-door display cabinet and shelves on the other side, and finally the largest model had a 2-door display, open shelves and a small compartment with door in the middle and another vertical display row on the opposite side. The separate sideboard had 1 drawer with 2 doors for the smallest version, 2 drawers with 4 doors for the medium size and 3 drawers with 6 doors for the large model. I have included a picture on the large Sling cabinet, a very impressive piece of furniture in your Don S. Shoemaker dining room.

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

@donshoemaker.com

The unique Sling Swinger Chair

Leave a comment


I received several requests from my readers to write about Don´s famous Sling Swinger chair, so here it is:

The “Sling Casuals” furniture collection together with the “Elephant Lounge Set” limited edition (which I already described in a separate post) from the 1960’s are Don S. Shoemaker´s most accomplished organic design achievements. Although, the output of the “Sling Line” lasted during three decades, the “Elephant Lounge” remained an exclusive special edition of only 5 sets. The Sling “Swinger” chair and the Sling “Sloucher” chair are well known to collectors and galleries.

The Sling Swinger chair is of timeless elegance, the perfect integration of form, function and exotic woods. The production of these harmoniously sculpted chairs in solid tropical woods was only possible thanks to the highly sophisticated manufacturing equipment and special tools that Don had at his workshop. Shoemaker´s favorite tropical woods used for the production of these attractive swinging chairs were granadilla, cueramo and cocobolo, combined with black or brown leather upholstery. Besides the wide arms model a second version was available with narrow arms, an alternative for smaller living spaces. Below a Sling Swinger chair from my personal collection in heavy solid cocobolo tropical wood:

Another unique feature about Don´s furniture designs as I have already noted before is that he excelled in developing systems for link and joint, he tried to avoid no matter what the use of screws and nails in his work. These chairs are assembled to perfection, easily dismountable for an uncomplicated transport to any place in the world. A different Sling Swinger chair from my private collection is shown here, this time in solid granadilla tropical wood:

And finally, here is a picture of one of my Sling Swinger chairs with its matching ottoman with black leather upholstery. The perfect combination. Each piece bears the Don S. Shoemaker decal studio label.

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

@donshoemaker.com

Descanso Line – “Descanso” Coffee Table and Lamp Tables

Leave a comment


When going through the literature on American furniture designers from the Mid-Century I found interesting similarities between the lives of Don S. Shoemaker and Wharton Esherick, known as the “Dean of American Craftsmen”. Both started their artistic careers as painters, both were designer-craftsmen pursuing their own unique visions striving towards perfection in craftsmanship in a time when this was already considered to be a relic of the past. Both chose to establish their studio/home in remote areas, Wharton in the Pennsylvania hills, Don in a small uphill village overlooking the city of Morelia. Despite an isolated existence both  were always up to date on what was going on in the world and absorbed influences from emerging movements into their designs. As Wharton Esherick did, Don also developed over the years a following of devoted customers who became addicted to his work, returning year after year for another piece.

During the late 1950’s and the 1960’s we saw the upraising of Brazilian furniture designers Sergio Rodrigues with his “Poltrona Mole” and Jean Gillon with his “Jangadá”. Don´s “Descanso Set”(*) was highly estimated by his Brazilian counterparts, as long as he was an absolute perfectionist and went even further by adding to his “Descanso Line” a matching Descanso Coffee Table and a pair of Lamp or Side Tables:

 

(*) Check my post on the “Descanso Set” from 2010

The Descanso Coffee Table with its two Lamp/Side Tables was produced with parquetry top in solid cueramo hardwood, Zebra wood or for the more demanding tastes in cocobolo. The cocobolo Coffee Table depicted here belongs to my personal collection and I use it together with a cocobolo “Descanso” Lounge Chair and Ottoman.

Another interesting feature about these Coffee Tables and Lamp and/or Side Tables is that the table top is detachable. I have included a close up on the table´s legs for you, a delightful design.

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

@donshoemaker.com

From the “Sling” Line – A stylish dining room set

Leave a comment


Very few furniture designers achieved  that magical combination of style, strength and practicality. The distinctive Shoemaker style has its very own trademark:  timeless, clean and simple and yet with a strong sense of solidity; Don´s sculptural furniture designs made with the finest tropical woods combined with thick black leather still proudly furnish selected wealthy Mexican villas, haciendas as well as elegant weekend homes after more than 40 years.  It is very unlikely that you will get bored or tired of  Don´s furniture pieces, most of the Shoemaker collectors that I know around the world have kept their pieces for over 2 generations and would not consider selling them!

Today let´s review the “Sling” round dining table with its combining “Sling” dining chairs in solid rosewood and black leather upholstery, a set that Don designed in the 1960’s. This Sling dining table was produced in tropical woods (“cueramo” and other local rosewood species) with a marquetry top  in 2 different sizes to choose from for either 4 or 6 Sling dining chairs. The design was also meant to be multipurpose and the set was offered within the “Executive Line” with the tag: Club conference table with chairs for smaller office meetings.

The Sling dining chair design is very unique. Pay special attention to the underside finish.

The table was available not only as shown in the vintage catalog  above, for an extra cost you could buy it with solid tropical wood panels as the one pictured below  from my private collection. This Sling dining table has a perfectly polished parquetry top  made in a rosewood species extinct over 30 years ago.

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

@donshoemaker.com

Chairs – The iconic “Sling” folding chairs

Leave a comment


Don S. Shoemaker did not follow the same path as the other famous designers of his era like Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, George Nakashima, Isamu Noguchi, etc. Don developed his very own style, completely independent, classic and timeless.

The “Sling” folding chair design dates back to the 1960´s, produced in solid tropical woods (rosewood and cocobolo) with black leather upholstery and a seat adjustable to three different positions. These chairs were available in 2 versions:

  • The Scissor “Sling” dining chair
  • The Scissor “Sling” parlor chair

Don´s “Sling” folding chairs are easily recognizable: the chair folds to a straight position and it has folding armrests, a feature almost impossible to find in any other chair design. In the book “1000 Chairs” by Charlotte & Peter Fiell, ed. TASCHEN 2005 I could not find an armchair with folding braces.

The Scissor “Sling” dining chair had a straight back for a comfortable seating at a “Sling” dinner table, the Scissor “Sling” parlor chair was designed in a lower position for a more relaxed environment.

Below is a picture of a Scissor “Sling” dining chair in cocobolo tropical wood from my personal collection. Pay attention to the straight back.

The pictures below are also from my personal collection and show a Scissor “Sling” parlor chair produced in rosewood. Notice the difference between the two models, this version has a lower more relaxed back.

Pay attention to the folding armrest, a very unique feature created by the master. The armrest articulation allows the user to fold up the armrest and leave the table in angle, an action almost impossible to perform in an armrest chair.

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

@donshoemaker.com

Bookcases – The “Perlman” Bookcase

Leave a comment


Trends were changing rapidly in the 1960´s towards smaller living areas and Don spent many hours imagining how roominess could be improved in apartments without having to sacrifice on comfort. He created many furniture pieces that would combine practicality with functionality. The “Perlman” bookcase is a perfect example: a four-sided rolling bookcase with an exceptional storage capacity, which he believed was ideal for small flats. I have included the vintage brochure page used by SEÑAL, S.A. to advertise the “Perlman” bookcase, produced in rosewood with a nicely finished parquetry top.

With time the “Perlman” bookcase became also very appreciated as the perfect side table. In fact, my “Descanso” set is furnished with 2 of these bookcases which I comfortably use as side tables instead of the traditional “Descanso” lamp tables. I read a lot and books have to be handy!

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

@donshoemaker.com

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: