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

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 devoted 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 hardwood, 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 classic combination. Both pieces bear the Don S. Shoemaker decal studio label.

 

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

@donshoemaker.com

Descanso Line – “Descanso” Coffee Table and Lamp Tables

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When going through the literature on American furniture designers from the Mid-Century I found interesting similarities between the lives of Don S. Shoemaker and Wharton Esherick, known as the “Dean of American Craftsmen”. Both started their artistic careers as painters, both were designer-craftsmen pursuing their own unique visions striving towards perfection in craftsmanship in a time when this was already considered to be a relic of the past. Both chose to establish their studio/home in remote areas, Wharton in the Pennsylvania hills, Don in a small uphill village overlooking the city of Morelia. Despite an isolated existence both  were always up to date on what was going on in the world and absorbed influences from emerging movements into their designs. As Wharton Esherick did, Don also developed over the years a following of devoted customers who became addicted to his work, returning year after year for another piece.

During the late 1950’s and the 1960’s we saw the upraising of Brazilian furniture designers Sergio Rodrigues with his “Poltrona Mole” and Jean Gillon with his “Jangadá”. Don´s “Descanso Set”(*) was highly estimated by his Brazilian counterparts, as long as he was an absolute perfectionist and went even further by adding to his “Descanso Line” a matching Descanso Coffee Table and a pair of Lamp or Side Tables:

(*) Also check my post on the “Descanso Set” from 2010

The Descanso Coffee Table with its two Lamp/Side Tables was produced with parquetry top in solid cueramo hardwood, Zebra wood or for the more demanding tastes in cocobolo. The cocobolo Coffee Table depicted here belongs to my personal collection and I use it together with a cocobolo “Descanso” Lounge Chair and Ottoman.

Another interesting feature about these Coffee Tables and Lamp and/or Side Tables is that the table top is detachable. I have included a close up on the table´s legs for you, a delightful design.

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

@donshoemaker.com

Carved Chest from Don´s Colonial Line

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Don used his state-of-the-art equipment installed at SEÑAL, S.A. to produce a commercial line of colonial style furniture pieces in volcanic pine wood. This very decorative chest with capriciously carved flowers was part of Don´s colonial production. They came furnished with a stand to keep them off the floor thus enhancing their beauty.

You may also want to check Dick Shoemaker´s video from 1986 about Don S. Shoemaker and SEÑAL, S.A. in Santa Maria Guido, Morelia. The video shows a few shots on the production of these beautifully carved chests.

Access: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVSv64jN_eg

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

@donshoemaker.com

Bookcases – The “Perlman” Bookcase

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Trends were changing rapidly in the 1960´s towards smaller living areas and Don spent many hours imagining how roominess could be improved in apartments without having to sacrifice on comfort. He created many furniture pieces that would combine practicality with functionality. The “Perlman” bookcase is a perfect example: a four-sided rolling bookcase with an exceptional storage capacity, which he believed was ideal for small flats. I have included the vintage brochure page used by SEÑAL, S.A. to advertise the “Perlman” bookcase, produced in rosewood with a nicely finished parquetry top.

With time the “Perlman” bookcase became also very appreciated as the perfect side table. In fact, my “Descanso” set is furnished with 2 of these bookcases which I comfortably use as side tables instead of the traditional “Descanso” lamp tables. I read a lot and books have to be handy!

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

@donshoemaker.com

Coffee Tables – The “Cuerno” Tables

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In previous posts I have already touched base on Don´s very personal style coffee table designs. I have commented on Don´s distinctive “Sling” coffee table, the sophisticated “Elephant Lounge” coffee table as well as a very rare large coffee table that he designed back in the early 1960’s. Don´s coffee tables bear their very own identity; they are one-of-a-kind and matchless to the work of other furniture designers of the same period.

Today I will present “The Marquesa tables” created by Don S. Shoemaker in the 1960’s. The table´s leg design resemble the shape of “horns”, for this reason they became more known as the Shoemaker “Cuerno” tables and with time, even Don named them that way. The “Cuerno” tables were available in 3 sizes: small (side table), medium (regular coffee table) and large (large coffee table) produced in tropical woods (mainly rosewood) with a finely handcrafted parquetry top. Below the vintage catalog page for “The Marquesa Tables“:

Two pictures of a “Cuerno” coffee table (medium size) from my personal collection are shown here. This appealing coffee table makes a great match with one pair of “Sling” Swinger chairs that I have, everybody falls in love with this combination. Pay attention to the” horn” shaped legs (close-up).

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. catalogue page above describes the stylish Sling “sloucher” chairs which were produced only in selected tropical woods (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

Coffee Tables – The “Sling” Coffee Table

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The “Sling Casuals” are the classic Don S. Shoemaker furniture pieces from the 1960’s to be found at auctions and galleries. Don selected the finest tropical woods for this exquisite furniture line: zebrawood, cocobolo, rosewood and granadilla. There are vintage pieces that can be found in excellent conditions.

The perfect match was to own a pair of “Sling” swinger chairs or a set of two “Sling” sloucher chairs accompanied with the “Sling” coffee table. These superbly crafted coffee tables could be ordered (see the SEÑAL, S.A. catalog page above) with black leather or wooden top.

I have included a picture of my “Sling” coffee table with the wooden top combined with a pair of “Sling” swinger chairs and two “Sling” footstools.

My next picture shows a vintage “Sling” coffee table now with the black leather top from my personal collection. Both versions are Shoemaker classics and look outstanding when matched with his “Sling” chair designs.

Also interesting to notice is that the leather or wooden top is removable at the vintage “Sling” coffee tables. (Click on the picture to learn about the details). The second generation had the tops fixed to the main structure of the table. New copies have screwed fixed tops. (I will write a separate post about these as well).


Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

@donshoemaker.com

Don S. Shoemaker Design Lines – The “Executive” Line

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The prestigious “Executive” line is one of Don S. Shoemaker´s most recognized production lines. Between the 1960´s and 1980´s it was a must to the Mexican rich and famous businessmen as well as powerful politicians to own a Don S. Shoemaker desk with its complete line of writing materials to furnish their offices or the studio at home. It was perceived as a symbol of status and success.

Don designed several office furniture lines. The SEÑAL, S.A. “Executive” line catalogue page shown below presents his more conservative models. This line included everything imaginable: executive and secretarial desks produced with parquetry in zebra wood, rosewood or cocobolo, solid tropical wood executive chairs with high or low back and black leather upholstery, a large selection of desk utensils, paper baskets, matching filing cases, etc.

As discussed in previous posts, also the “Diamond” line (Don´s most revolutionary design from the 1970´s ) included executive desks, conference tables that were sold as dining tables as well, executive chairs and a wide range of desk implements, but this line deserves to be treated apart.

Let´s take a “live” look to an over 40 year old Don S. Shoemaker executive desk. I had to show one that has witnessed for two generations many corporate battles, and still in perfect shape. I hope this picture will provide you with the affluent atmosphere created by these great looking desks. Pay attention to the dark patina of the tropical wood, product of many years of service. I have also included a close up on the perfect parquetry work of the two drawers.

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

@donshoemaker.com

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