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

Wooden treasures for your dinner service from Don´s Gift Line

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There always was this magical atmosphere in Don´s studio/home, it felt like being a child in a big toy store every time we visited him. To resist his delightful Gift Line collection was virtually impossible, no matter how, the discovery of a new piece or gadget that could match with something I already had at home came in the way. The following 1980’s vintage Gift Line catalogue page with Don´s image on it brings great memories back to life!

I recently described in my posts “Home Bar Essentials” and “Accessories for every occasion” some of Don´s tropical woods trays, chopping and cheese boards, coasters, salt & pepper shakers, etc. This time I want to point out on his gourmet designs which were particularly charming and definitively making the difference when decorating your dinner table. Here two of my favorites…

For many years I have enjoyed serving my meals with these Don S. Shoemaker Pyrex holders produced in solid cueramo tropical wood:

We love Mexican cuisine but we also enjoy very much Asian food, chopsticks are a must for fine tableware. This set of 6 chopsticks with chopstick rests were made in solid cocobolo tropical wood, the set is absolutely gorgeous:

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

A game table from the late 1950’s

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When Don and his wife Barbara settled down in Santa Maria de Guido in the early 1950´s they started making wooden buttons and bowls. Within a short period of time Don became very familiar with all the exotic hardwoods grown in the southern mountains of the State of Michoacan and the “hot country”, “la tierra caliente” for the locals (the mountains close to the ocean) and he created his first chair design, then followed by other furniture designs that with time became his distinctive style.

Don experimented with different tropical woods species in his early furniture designs; he once mentioned that over 150 varieties of woods had come through his woodworking factory. Today I will share with you one of Don´s early game table designs from the late 1950’s and its evolution in the 1960’s.

This Don S. Shoemaker game table from the late 1950’s is made in granadilla tropical wood with a leather table top. The design looks rather simple at first sight, but in reality the table´s assembly work is very elaborate since wooden dowels hold it together. Also pay attention to the elegant continue line of the table stretchers.

In the 1960’s Don decided to use different materials and the design matured. Now this game table was produced in rosewood and the table top was made in marble. George R. Shoemaker continued reproducing the same table in the 1990’s, but he updated the design by replacing the marble table top with parquetry.

This recently detected forgery lacks completely the subtle refinement of the original design. Pay attention to the table´s top support (very small) and the table stretchers, which look like borrowed from another table…

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

@donshoemaker.com

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