Don’s Modernist Mexican Butaque Chair

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continued from part # 5

As described in my previous post series about the Mexican Butaque, we have seen several samples and interpretations of these emblematic chairs coming from different regions and designers in Mexico. Considering all the information and research data that I have gathered in the past years, it is without a doubt that William Spratling is the true Father of the Mexican 20th Century Butaque chair rebirth, not Clara Porset, as many have tried to argue. Clara Porset as well as many other designers from that same period of time basically followed Spratling. Using his designs as an “inspiration” or just plagiarized and mass-reproduced the chair in cheaper woods with minimal changes.

When Don S. Shoemaker arrived to Mexico this small charming chair also called his attention, but our master had his own ideas… He envisioned the Butaque chair from a modernist point of view: the design had to be organic and it had to be made with dark and heavy tropical woods. On this basis, instead of using the typical arch that conform the legs of a butaque chair, he presented us with a beautiful organic composition of his chair legs. Moreover, he gave the flair of a sling chair using softer black leather instead of the traditional “vaqueta” leather that his predecessors had been employing. And of course, he did not attach it to the lateral body of the chair, and instead of using the round head rivets for this purpose on the top and low rail he developed a system that today is his trademark of fixing the leather to the hardwood: his iconic leather “sunflowers”.

Bronze rivet (19th Century) and Don’s leather rivet (1960’s)

The Sling “Sloucher” Chair was one of Don’s very first chair projects. The result: a very unique interpretation of a modernist Mexican Butaque! By 1960 he introduced the chair as we know it today:

Sling "Sloucher" Chair by Don S. Shoemakeral

The Sling “Sloucher” Chair is Don’s flagship, these chairs were an essential part of his SEÑAL, S.A. furniture catalog together with the Sling “Swinger” Chair and the Sling “Suspension” Stool.

Sling Casuals Catalogue page

As we have seen, the exotic Mexican Butaque Chair has a long history in furniture design; Don’s modernist Butaque was the last evolution of this graceful chair, no other designer in Mexico has succeeded in the attempt to create a new form for the last 50 years.

 

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

SLING CASUALS – The Sling “sloucher” chair

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Don´s organic designs were unmatchable by any other furniture designer of his time. When I refer to his organic designs, I am talking about that marvelous wood prototype I had the opportunity to see, sit and enjoy, which was the base of what we know as the SLING “sloucher chair, made in some sort of bone shape disposition.

The “Sling Casuals” line is one of Don´s most classical and successful design lines from the 1960’s. The SEÑAL, S.A. catalog page above describes the stylish Sling “sloucher” chairs which were produced only in selected tropical hardwoods (zebrawood, cocobolo, granadilla and other local rosewood variants like cueramo), all made with black or brown leather upholstery. The SEÑAL, S.A. shop in Santa Maria de Guido also had a collection of other available leather samples and colors for you to choose from: gray, different shades of brown, beige, etc. to match the Sling “sloucher” chairs to your home décor or personal favorite colors.

Below some Sling “sloucher” chairs from my private collection:

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

@donshoemaker.com

Don S. Shoemaker furniture designs produced by SEÑAL, S.A.

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Don S. Shoemaker is Mexico´s most accomplished Mid century furniture designer. His furniture masterpieces in tropical woods from the 1960´s and 1970´s are becoming important examples of 20th century design. The precious woods used to produce his organic forms were unmatchable by any other furniture designer of his time. When I refer to his organic designs, I am talking about a marvelous wood prototype I had the opportunity to see, sit and enjoy, which was the base of what we know now as his simple “SLING” chair, made in some sort of bone shape disposition.

I will show samples of his original designs and furniture models. I invite you all to share in this site comments and pictures of your Don S. Shoemaker original furniture pieces. Lately I have seen a wide range of fakes or attributed pieces on sale on the web, in magazines, at auctions and even on renowned showrooms. This is an invitation to fight for the purity of Don S. Shoemakers lifetime work that I am sure every owner of a chair, stool or table of the real SEÑAL, S.A. production will share with me as long as when you own, care and cherish your solid tropical wood piece you become a “Shoemakeristi” and we do not want the corruption of his designs and name.

During the decade of the 1970´s Don also experimented with linear designs, he challenged the traditional boundaries of functional design and created the renowned “Diamond Line” or sometimes called the “Z” models. Built in stack-laminated wood this line became very well known through the iconic “diamond desk”, which was used by Jacobo Zabludovsky, one of Mexico´s most famous newscasters on his daily TV program. Unfortunately there are many new copies of this desk in the market; street tales say that only a total of 25 were produced but the unlabeled desks currently on sale might be easily ten times that number.

If the piece seems odd, the leather is brand new, the wood looks new and smells like new and carries no label or stamp or is taped then it is a new copy!

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

All rights reserved. No content of this website may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from the owner of this website.

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