Collecting Don´s wooden sculptures

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Collecting Don´s sculptures in wood can be very exciting and entertaining. Through the years I accumulated quite a few pieces and I enjoy very much having them around. Don inspired himself from Mexican folklore and designed remarkable pieces that would represent bats, scorpions and other symbolic animals from the Mexican Pre-Hispanic period. These works of art were made with different kinds of woods from the region, sometimes inlaid with colored stones, sometimes just nicely carved.

Don´s box designs from the “Animal” Series were also quite unique. Some time ago, in one of my posts I already showed you the “Owl” box; here we have a nice sample of his “Hippopotamus” box:

Don´s imagination and creativity was also inspired by organic forms, female curves and hands:

All of the above pictured pieces carry the decal studio label. There are of course many other interesting works that I could present from Don´s sculptural creations, however, I have only selected a few examples to prevent forgers from trying to copycat his designs.

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

@donshoemaker.com

Don S. Shoemaker: A Craftsman’s Legacy

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Don passed away in May 1990, 21 years ago. He left us an unrivaled aesthetic legacy through his remarkable furniture designs, now becoming modern classics sought after by collectors, galleries, auction houses and individuals worldwide. Apparently the intrinsic value of the woods used in the production (some of them now extinct) is something that they are starting to realize and evidently is sparking the boom of this search not to mention the value of the design, production and hand-craftsmanship compared to prices that have reached pieces from novel designers of stack-laminated wood, sold in $ 7,000 USD for a centerpiece making Don´s production of solid wood so attractive to them.

His furniture designs from the 1960’s and 1970’s are becoming important examples of 20th century design. He developed his own identity and style which remained evolving throughout his whole career maintaining the principles of high quality hand-craftsmanship and the intensive use of solid native precious woods. Don´s work has been included in many national and international art and design exhibitions held at renowned galleries and museums like the Museo de Arte Moderno (MAM) in Mexico City.

During his more than three decades of dedicated work Don designed a significant number of iconic furniture masterpieces, all produced in exotic hardwoods, which he favored for their inherent strength, durability and magnificent beauty:

  • Organic designs: the most unique “Scissor” Sling chair (an armchair with folding braces), his Sling “Sloucher” and “Swinger” chairs.
  • Progressive designs: the famous stack-laminated “Diamond” desk and table
  • Rectilinear designs: the “Parsons Line” including suites for every room in your house
  • Unmatchable coffee table designs: the “Cuerno”, “Sling”, “Elephant” Lounge and “Descanso” coffee tables.
  • Dining room set designs: the “Sling” dining room set, cabinets and sideboards
  • Lounge and living room designs: the “Descanso” set and “Pernos” Lounge set

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

@donshoemaker.com

The versatile Parsons Line – Tables for table freaks

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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

Linear designs – The Diamond Line

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Many of my readers have asked me to write about Don´s “Diamond Line” designs. You may recall that I already published a post on the renowned diamond desk, which became a legend as one of Mexico´s most prominent newscasters, Jacobo Zabludovsky used to broadcast the daily news sitting on his diamond desk. I have also called on your attention to the brand new unlabeled diamond desk copies that I have found on sale at auctions and galleries. (Check my posts “AAD – Appearances are deceptive” and “New Don S. Shoemaker copies – the diamond desk”).

The “Diamond Line” or sometimes referred as to the “Z Line” was the result from Don´s experiments during the decade of the 1970´s with linear designs, these furniture pieces were crafted in laminated exotic woods, some of which I will introduce to you below.

Diamond Line dining or conference table. This spectacular stack-laminated table could be used for a dining room set or a conference room.

Matching dining/conference table ZigZag chairs. This is Don´s reinterpretation from the De Stijl, the famous cantilevered zigzag chair designed by Garrit Rietveld. The pictures below show samples of ZigZag chairs from different periods, although I have to point out that the traditional Shoemaker black leather upholstery that comes attached to seat and back is missing on two of them.

Don´s ZigZag Chair   • Don Shoemaker´s ZigZag Chair with black leather upholstery

• George Shoemaker´s ZigZag Chair

Diamond side table. Very stylish and decorative, the perfect complement for a Diamond dining room set. As seen in a Mexico City gallery.

Of course, there are more geometric designs to show from this line, but I will keep some of them for a future occasion!

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

@donshoemaker.com

Shoemaker´s work at Zona MACO 2011

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I was busy in Paris checking out a wonderful desk from my favorite 20th century French Art Deco designer, Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann when the Mexican Contemporary Art Fair Zona MACO 2011 was taking place in Mexico City from April 6-10, 2011. Of course, I counted on my readers to keep me informed on the highlights of this event and I was amazed by the great amount of comments on the exhibition and pictures that I received on furniture pieces displayed by Mexican and international design galleries in the “ZonaMACO Diseño” pavilion. Interestingly, Don S. Shoemaker´s work was represented at 3 out of the 10 participating galleries in this pavilion…

My attention was captivated by these very rare Don S. Shoemaker Lounge chairs that were exhibited by one of the participating galleries:

The “Pernos” Lounge chair was one of Don´s experimental chair designs from the 1960’s when most designers of the time were using welded steel–rod body and frame like Harry Bertoia, Herman Miller and some others became fond of plywood beginning with the Eames passing by Sori Yanagi, Carlo Mollino and last but not least the extensive use by some other designers of fiberglass. As a matter of fact he used to try to find answers in wood to BAUHAUS designs in tubular steel or aluminum. (He also developed an interpretation from the De Stijl, the famous zigzag chair of Garrit Rietveld). Don´s innovative “Pernos” lounge chair had a complicated and very precise assembly process, each chair´s manufacture was personally supervised by him; they were produced during a limited period of time in small quantities. He was not necessarily extremely fond to linear designs, these chairs became exclusive collection pieces to his passionate followers.

Some of Don´s classic Sling furniture pieces were nicely presented by other galleries as well, unfortunately I also recognized a new copy that I had already brought to light last year in my post “AAD – Appearances are deceptive“, related to new Don S. Shoemaker copies. For those of you who visited Zona MACO 2011 you will discover the unlucky copy right away!

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

@donshoemaker.com

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

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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

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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

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