Myths and Legends about the Clara Porset Archive

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Most recently a symposium took place at the Americas Society in New York together with the exhibition Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1940–1978. To my utmost surprise, one of the speakers (Mrs. Ana Elena Mallet) stated that the Clara Porset Archive which is safeguarded by the CIDI (Centro de Investigaciones de Diseño Industrial – Industrial Design Research Center) at the UNAM (Universidad Autónoma de México), does not have an inventory or is even catalogued and that every time she goes through it, she discovers something new! The comment in my opinion was very unfortunate and rather ungrateful to Mexico’s prestigious Industrial Design Research Center, and I feel the need to publish some pictures that I recently took myself of the Clara Porset Archive in its current state at the CIDI/UNAM, clearly including inventory codes, perfectly catalogued and securely stored.

The Clara Porset Library at the CIDI/UNAM

Interior view of the Clara Porset Library and Archive at the CIDI

Clara Porset Archive map storage cabinet

Clara Porset furniture design sketches

Inventoried Clara Porset sketches

Clara Porset Archive cataloguing work

File storage cabinets keeping Clara Porset’s personal library

The Clara Porset Library is well-organized thanks to the continued work and dedication of its Clara Porset Archive curators at the CIDI: CIDI Director M.D.I. Enrique Ricalde Gamboa and D.I. Jorge A. Vadillo López. Below I have included a picture of both them at the CIDI offices together with the true +30 years Clara Porset expert in Mexico´s Industrial Design scenario, Dr. Oscar Salinas Flores, who actually was one of Clara Porset’s devoted students and who has published two books about Clara Porset and several textbooks about Industrial Design in Mexico.

DI Jorge A. Vadillo, MDI Enrique Ricalde and Dr. Oscar Salinas at the CIDI main offices (from left to right)

The CIDI team and the UNAM have made great efforts to keep the Clara Porset Archive in good shape; of course, there are always new technologies that could make the Clara Porset Archive easier to review for researchers, but that might take some time and additional resources.

I hope, this clarifies several misleading and out-of-place comments concerning the Clara Porset Archive and who our CLARA PORSET EXPERTS really are!

P.S.: Clara Porset experts is boldfaced, because Mrs. Mallet, Mr. Rivas and Mr. Castañeda, who were involved in the above mentioned symposium and made reference of Clara Porset’s life and work, none of them realized that Clara Porset was not born in the year 1932 as stated in the list of designers featured at the exhibition on the opening page of

Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and …

That´s what I call soi-disant expertise!!

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.
@donshoemaker.com

Don S. Shoemaker Biography

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Coming from an affluent family, Don was originally from Nebraska. During the 1930´s he studied at the Fine Arts Institute of Chicago thinking to become a painter. After the end of WWII he married Barbara and felt in love with Mexico on his honeymoon; he finally decided to move to that country in the late 1940´s. He lived for a while and painted in San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato, but finally he settled down in a little uphill town called Santa Maria de Guido, overseeing the city of Morelia, in the state of Michoacan, Mexico.

Don and Barbara´s love for nature inspired them to install a greenhouse and collected more than 5,000 orchid specimens. Here in Santa Maria de Guido, Don began the manufacture of his furniture in tropical precious woods and other wood products. What started as a little factory in the late 1950´s called SEÑAL, S.A., grew to the point where Don employed more than a hundred skilled craftsmen. Soon Shoemaker became an important milestone of the economic and cultural life of his adopted home. SEÑAL, S.A. brought great wealth and economical boost to the village and Don was well known for his good heart and charity projects.

Don S. Shoemaker delivered furniture pieces to his showrooms in Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and large cities in Mexico. His designs were very much appreciated by wealthy Mexican families which had complete sets decorating their haciendas and luxury homes.

Due to the expensive manufacturing costs on his tropical woods design pieces, his company, SEÑAL, S.A. profited from the installed equipment to produce a commercial line of colonial style furniture in pine and white cedar for hotels and government offices, etc. The legend says, that his factory used to work 24 hours a day.

During his marriage to Barbara Don had three children, but his son, George, was the only one involved in the business. When Don passed away in May of 1990, George took over and started reproducing Don´s designs under the label of “Arrendadora Shoemaker”. Unfortunately, George was called by God in the early 2000´s and the company disappeared.

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

@donshoemaker.com

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