Chairs – The iconic “Sling” folding chairs

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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

Don S. Shoemaker furniture pieces at Museums

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During past years Don S. Shoemaker´s work has been presented at several Mexico Modernism designer exhibitions. Worth mentioning: “Vida y Diseño. 125 años del diseño en México” (Life and Design. 125 years of design in Mexico), which took place at the Palacio de Iturbide in Mexico City from December 2009 until the end of February 2010. This exhibition showed a selection of Don S. Shoemaker furniture pieces among works by other 20th century Mexico Modernism designers. Although I was disappointed by the poor research work done about Don S. Shoemaker, the furniture pieces on display were dated to have been produced during his childhood in the 1930´s and 1940’s…. Don did not establish himself in Mexico until 1947, later he made acquaintance with precious woods and he became so fond of them that he moved to Morelia, Michoacan marking the beginning of his production of furniture pieces in tropical woods until the early 1950´s.

Also the Museo de Arte Moderno (MAM) in Mexico City presented some of Don´s furniture pieces in their exhibitionLa colección: las rutas de la abstracción. México 1950-1979 (The collection: routes of abstraction. Mexico 1950-1979). The collection included works of Carlos Mérida, Mathias Goeritz, Manuel Felguérez, Vicente Rojo, Helen Escobedo, Arnaldo Cohen, Michael Van Beuren, Don S. Shoemaker, Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, among others. The exhibition closed in October 2009, but a Scissor Sling chair produced by Don S. Shoemaker in the 1960´s is part of their Mexico Modernism designer collection.

This original folding chair is made in solid cocobolo wood with nicely worn black leather upholstery. You may consider a weekend visit to the MAM to study this wonderful Don S. Shoemaker furniture piece.

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

Most underwhelming attribution to Don S. Shoemaker – part 3

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These attributed pieces were found in a gallery:

  • The X-Chair, attributed to Don Shoemaker. This model never existed during the SEÑAL, S.A. production days. As long as I know who designed these chairs… He used as a model the original Don S. Shoemaker design of a small folding stool in chip-carved Brazilian walnut wood from the 1960´s. (see picture below)

“Daybed” attributed to Don Shoemaker. This piece of furniture of Art Deco inspiration, I think even Don would have been surprised to see what “he produced” as he never designed any kind of daybeds!  Although it is a nice looking thing and credit should be awarded to the lady who designed it a year ago!

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

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