Mexican Modernism – Furniture Design in Mexico – Part # 10

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Also an important part of Mexico´s rich 20th century design history has to be credited to the furniture production that came from the Yucatan Peninsula:

Regil de Yucatán, a furniture company active in the Yucatan Peninsula, was known for its quality artisan furniture pieces produced in mahogany and cedar woods during the 1950’s. At that time, the company commissioned American interior designer Charles W. Allen, with a “Contemporary Furniture Line”, targeted to satisfy the taste of the American market.

Allen´s contemporary line made its way to Chicago and New York, and to Mexico City through the DECOR, S.A. showroom located on the elegant Reforma Avenue. Charles W. Allen, who was an “aficionado” of the native woods and natural finishes found in Yucatan, certainly achieved a smooth, sculptured effect with this sui generis furniture line made in solid mahogany wood including hand-woven sisal and bright polished brass fittings.

Another flash into Mexico´s Mid-century furniture history from the same geographical area:

In the early 1950’s, the Mexican government granted a massive mahogany concession to “Maderas Industrializadas de Quintana Roo” (MIQRO); in 1959, the government actually took over ownership of this enterprise. This concession, covering 550,000 hectares had exclusive wood harvesting rights over both national and ejidal lands* in the southern parts of the state of Quintana Roo. When the MIQRO timbering concession expired in 1982, it was not renewed.

*The ejido system is the main legal mechanism under which Mexico has granted land and resource utilization rights to communities since 1942.

So there is a very high chance that you may find furniture pieces from the 1950’s and 1960’s produced in mahogany wood carrying the MIQRO stamp, however, that does not mean that you just “discovered” a new important Mexican designer studio signed MIQRO!

Copyright © 2010 – 2016 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

The false Don S. Shoemaker biography exposed

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Furthermore to the unfortunate Don S. Shoemaker exhibition of fakes, forgeries and attributions at the Mexico City Museo de Arte Moderno, I will share with you some anecdotal occurrences that I discovered when I went through the reading of the exhibition catalogue:

Among many pages of boring, mediocre and irrelevant data combined with an obvious lack of knowledge about the designer´s life and his oeuvre, the curator & writer of the catalogue presents a bizarre fabricated biography, misrepresenting events and misleading the reader completely about our designer´s personality and his spirit. I have picked some extracts from the biography (literally translated into English from the Spanish text), with my comments to each paragraph:

“Don Stanley Shoemaker Lohr (Nebraska, U.S.A., 22.01.1919 – Morelia, Michoacan, 20.05.1990) studied Art at the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago, with the help of his uncle Edwin Perkins (creator of the famous flavored beverage KOOL AID, one of the first soluble powders in the commercial food industry ambit). Later he enrolled into the Navy, to the 15th Engineer Combat Battalion; he was part of the historic Battle of Normandy at the Beach of Utah, one of the bloodiest fronts in the war, experience that would leave a lifetime mark on him. He was made prisoner by the Germans and sent to a Concentration Camp in France; by the end of 1945 he was liberated by General´s George Patton 3rd regiment. He was awarded with the Purple Heart and the Victory Cross.”

Historical WW II events:

  • Don was captured by Nazi Germany while serving in France, but the POW camp where he was sent to was not in France, it was located in Germany. George S. Patton on the other hand, set up in March of 1945 a secret and controversial task force called “Task Force Baum”, which was given the task of penetrating 50 miles behind German lines and liberating the POWs in camp OFLAG XIII-B, near Hammelburg (close to the camp where Don was held POW). Controversy surrounds the true reasons behind the mission, which may have been simply to liberate Patton’s son-in-law, John K. Waters, taken captive in Tunisia in 1943. The result of the mission was a complete failure; of the roughly 300 men of the task force, 32 were killed in action during the raid and only 35 made it back to Allied-controlled territory, with the remainder being taken prisoner.

Verified historical data:

  • Don was not liberated by George S. Patton´s 3rd regiment. Don received the Victory Cross, which was granted to all American WW II soldiers, however, he never was awarded with the Purple Heart Medal.

The biographical research work made by the MAM´s curatorial team was less than professional, historical events were deliberately distorted. Was the idea to write an entertaining novel or is it just a literary forgery with a fabricated biography of an artist, presented as a fact?

Text: “An unavoidable first question to make is: ¿How does Don Shoemaker arrive to Mexico and why he settles down in Morelia? By the end of the war Edwin Perkins inherited the stocks of KOOL AID to him, at the time that it was sold to GENERAL FOODS. This would allow him in the future to keep re-investing stocks for the rest of his life in different stock market businesses (from General Motors to Opal Mines in Australia), but above all, at that moment Shoemaker was able at last to dispose of sufficient capital to embark upon his dream of traveling through Latin America. Although he would not get too far, because same as happened to many other travelers in our country, like Edward James or Frank Kyle, he felt in love with Mexico and very soon settles down in Morelia together with his wife Barbara. By 1947 he established a wood button factory.”

The historical evidence:

  • The Perkins Products Company & Packit Envelope and Bag Company were exchanged for nearly 250,000 shares of General Foods stock in 1953. After the General Foods sale, Edwin and Kitty Perkins (Kitty´s maiden name was Shoemaker, she was Don´s aunt) established foundations for philanthropic purposes. After Edwin E. Perkins death in 1961, the family suffered through a challenge to the probate of his estate. However, this unpleasantness was settled out of court by the family, and Mrs. Kitty Perkins took over the reins of the philanthropies.

The coming down to earth reality:

  • Don did not inherit any Kool-Aid stocks, nor did he re-invest stocks for the rest of his life in different stock market businesses. He made the SEÑAL, S.A. company from scratch through hard work and sacrifice. Aunt Kitty however helped Don in the 1960’s with the funding for the purchase of a state-of-the-art factory equipment.
  • Don and Barbara arrived to San Miguel de Allende, Gto. in 1947, not to Morelia.

Note: the writer has very little knowledge on when and where Don and his wife Barbara settled down when they arrived in Mexico. The MAM vehemently claimed that the field investigation performed by their curatorial team was extensive, profound and conclusive, and that it was mainly focused on an IMMENSE photographic archive that the family owns, and also supported by a far bigger archive, which evidently was useless, right? As I have already stated in my previous post on this issue, the immense photographic archive that allegedly the curator´s work and research was supported by, actually was based on a shoe box that contained no more than 60 photographs, a few letters and some catalogue flyers of the SEÑAL, S.A.

Text: “Towards 1950 Shoemaker founded the SEÑAL, S.A. factory and starts to experiment in furniture design and manufacturing, although, due to a workers strike in 1955 he closes the factory and temporarily moves to New York. In 1960 Shoemaker comes back to Michoacan, to settle down for the rest of his life in Santa María de Guido, by that time a far suburb of the City of Morelia. There he re-assumes the furniture production, also he will start the production of complex marquetry wood floors; he began taking control over the early chain of production of the sawmill, and he takes advantage of it to export tropical hardwoods. This is the consolidation point of his most emblematic work: he designs furniture non stop, increasing his sales catalogue at the same time that he improvises the quantity of unique pieces, he creates the Sling Chair, his most iconic piece and starts using the wood remnants to manufacture the gifts line and smaller utility objects (like office articles, kitchen utensils, jewel boxes, ashtrays, buttons, etc.).”

“For several years the sawmill (part of the factory) prepared complete trunks and planks of precious tropical hardwoods for delivery to other parts of the world, like ongoing lots of cocobolo to Japan.”

Not actually the case, quite another story:

  • Don and Barbara arrived in Santa Maria de Guido in 1951, however, the company SEÑAL, S.A. was not established until 1960. Shoemaker never used his sawmill for mass hardwoods export, the sawmill´s purpose was to provide the woods supply used for the SEÑAL, S.A. furniture production only.  Don never exported any tropical wood planks and or trunks around the world. In fact, he always had a hard time trying to get the necessary hardwoods (specially cocobolo) for his studio line furniture designs. Sometimes, there was a scarcity of almost a year for the supply of tropical hardwoods, so, why would he sell entire lots of planks and trunks to Japan???

Our lousy biography author did not understand at all the furniture production process at SEÑAL, S.A. and its daily challenges.

Text: “Until the end of the 1970’s he is consumed by his work, while every day at 16:00 hrs. sharp he paints, (his heirs keep about 70 paintings, almost all of them in a medium size), practice that until the late 1980´s he exercised as a dilettante, at the same time as the serigraphy; the copies where on sale also at the SEÑAL, S.A. store (his family keeps at least 18 different proposals or graphics between lithography and serigraphy, besides some drawings). Compared to his furniture designs and his wood sculptures, most of Shoemaker´s paintings do not show any personal style nor do they carry any distinguishable evolution, it seems that his production was more hobby oriented and was inspired from other artists or movements to the point to imitate them openly, although generating an eclectic corps of paintings, they reveal a very cultivated curiosity for the painting history. This is how he made his version of the surrealistic “Vasos Comunicantes” from Diego Rivera or reinterprets the “Three Graces Myth”, being able to transit from a maternity of impressionist execution to a lyric abstraction, going through very naive mystic scenes, abject monstrosities, geometric-sized vegetable patterns, religious scenes of strong expressionism or picturesque landscapes.”

The closer truth:

  • Among many other activities, Don had been teaching painting & drawing for years at the “University Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo”, Mexico.

Our false biography writer notes that Don´s painting production was hobby oriented. Mmmmm. We should not forget about the fact that Don studied painting at the Fine Arts Institute in Chicago. However, our writer completely overslept that part, he only discovered that Don studied “Art”.

Text: “When Don Shoemaker died of an hearth attack in 1990, (even though he suffered from Parkinson for a long time before, which explains why his signature was not always the same), his son George gave continuity to the factory (to whom, together with his grandchildren Stanley and George Jr. he had already donated since 1988 the company´s stocks). George would produce new series (although limited) from old prototypes of his father, he would re-adapt some others in format (for example armchairs that Don had conceived for 1 person, George would develop the 2 and 3-seater versions) and he would design a few new objects himself, many of them marketed under the label “Arrendadora Shoemaker”, which specifies “Produced and/or designed by Shoemaker”, besides the complete address of the factory in Santa Maria de Guido. George died young in the year 2005, and even though the company was dissolved, his two sons Stanley and George Jr. would re-assume their grandfather´s legacy. Although they have designed some new models by themselves, for the time being they have decided that they would re-edit no more any of Don Shoemaker´s models, unless maybe in a future for personal use or maybe for a very special commemorative occasion.”

The absolute truth:

  • Don did not suffer from Parkinson´s disease, nor did he die of an hearth attack. That story was invented by the writer to explain certain signature differences on some of the drawings, after I presented the evidences to the INBA Director for all Museums, as well as the Secretary of Culture in Mexico, the MAM Director and the involved curator, of course.
  • Back in 1988 Don´s two grandchildren both were under-aged. When Don passed away in 1990 the SEÑAL, S.A. company was donated to his children and business partner.
  • George R. Shoemaker, Don´s only son, took over the business after Don passed away. Some time later, the SEÑAL, S.A. company was liquidated and George R. Shoemaker continued producing many of Don S. Shoemaker furniture designs under the ARRENDADORA SHOEMAKER label. George did not re-adapt Don S. Shoemaker furniture designs into 2 and 3-seater versions, he deeply respected his father´s furniture designs.
  • Interesting confession: “even though the company was dissolved, his two sons Stanley and George Jr. would re-assume their grandfather´s legacy. Although they have designed some new models by themselves, for the time being they have decided that they would re-edit no more any of Don Shoemaker´s models, unless maybe in a future for personal use or maybe for a very special commemorative occasion. Isn´t this explanation a clear acceptance to the wrong doing of the “family”, their fakes, attributions and forgeries and lots of furniture pieces of recent manufacture?

Again, here we have some remarkable biographical inconsistencies and misinterpretations of the truth. The “field investigation” or even better, “field day” investigation performed by the MAM curatorial team shown at its best! Besides all the fakes, forgeries, attributions, etc. published in the catalogue, we also have been graced with a false Don S. Shoemaker biography.

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

Don S. Shoemaker at Museo de Arte Moderno 2016 vs. Museo de Arte Moderno 1975

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Cover of the 1975 MAM catalog “Exposición Retrospectiva y Prospectiva de Diseño Mexicano”Beloved Don,

After more than 20 years of hard work, in the year 1975 you finally made it to Mexico´s Modern Art Museum (MAM) with some furniture pieces in the collective exhibition “Exposición Retrospectiva y Prospectiva de Diseño Mexicano”. 41 years later they have become iconic design works and proof of a beautiful mind; at the time it was already a legacy to the world and to the handcrafted and industrial design. During the next 15 years you kept developing restlessly new designs that nowadays we know as your heritage to humankind. In 1975, the Director of the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico (MAM) was Fernando Gamboa, first historiographer in Mexico and he has also been judged by history for his impeccable work (your lives were almost parallel, you both passed away in 1990 and he was 5 years older than you, furthermore, you two shared a real passion for honest work and perfection and were pioneers in your area of expertise and most relevant, none of you were affected by a pressing need of fame). You as well as other designers were fortunate enough to work with him like your partners in this exhibition: Po Shun Leong, Genaro Alvarez, Pal Kepenyes, Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, Horacio Durán, etc. and many other artists through his life.

View of the exhibition at the Museo de Arte Moderno in 1975

Good old days in which the IMCE (Instituto Mexicano de Comercio Exterior) and other institutions were involved in funding this type of exhibitions and the Secretaria de Educación Pública was interested in promoting the work of different artists as their final goal, and not making obscure alliances with commercial purposes like the ones we are witnessing in our times.

Unfortunately the news that I bring to you today are bad, but as you can remember since we met for the first time, the deal was to tell you the truth even when I did not like one of your sketches for a piece of furniture, jewelry or any other object.

So here we go:

MUSEO DE ARTE MODERNO 2016 “Don S. Shoemaker Diseño Artesanal e Industrial

Invitation Museo de Arte Moderno to the Don S.Shoemaker exhibition (2016)

I will try to explain as succinct as possible the development of the wrong doing of the “family”.

In my website (launched in 2010, as you know) I started to denounce forgeries, attributions and copies like the “X-Chair”, some “Diamond” desks, two “Day Bed” models, and several tables of the “Parsons Line” (the “family” and the curator do not even know that this particular design, the original one, is a table, not a desk, and that it belongs to the Parsons Line) which by the way, one of them, a relative uses as her desk and commercialized it under that category.

During the last 7 years they have been trying to remain in a comfort zone in which a lot of people know who is producing all these abject monstrosities so I had been busy consulting different auction houses,, etc. and I have tried to maintain the Don S. Shoemaker furniture market controlled and away from many other things that the “family” have been producing lately, that, of course, these pieces do not belong to the SEÑAL, S.A. catalog.

In 2014, Iñaki, curator for the Modern Art Museum (MAM) in Mexico City contacted me to ask if a small piece of wood that he called an “abstract sculpture” that carried a fake “Don S. Shoemaker” label was original. I explained to him the motifs and reasons why it was a fake and in return, he decided to contact the “family”. Of course, they authorized the piece as “an original” and there began the great expectations of both parties. The same offer that Iñaki made to me of an exhibition at the MAM, that I refused, was made now to them. Iñaki with the purpose of self-glorification becoming THE DILETTANTE curator of Don S. Shoemaker and the “family” finding a way to authenticate the trash they have been selling.

In 2015 during the month of June, the DS exhibition was announced to take place concomitant to the DESIGN WEEK MEXICO event in October 2015. I had a brief conversation with the MAM´s director and she decided to postpone the exhibition to a future date. I guess at this moment they did not have the back-up of the patrons of DESIGN WEEK, whom by the way own a furniture and interior design showroom named BLEND.

In 2016, a leak of information about the programming of a DS exhibition at the MAM concurrent with DESIGN WEEK MEXICO 2016, enlightened me of the pieces that they were already preparing to show as “DS original production”. At that very moment I decided to contact the Secretary of Culture of Mexico. I prepared more than enough evidence to proof the wrong doing of the “family”, their fakes, attributions and forgeries and unfortunately lots of furniture pieces of recent manufacture that they claimed were originals, prototypes, unique pieces, numbered pieces, signed and limited editions, and many other appellatives that in conjunction with Iñaki and his curatorial team were ready to authenticate and present at this exhibition.

So my pilgrimage started with the Director of International Affairs at the Secretaria de Cultura de México. Then the INBA Director; she set up a meeting with the Director of all Museums in Mexico, including the MAM´s director and Iñaki. By the way, I have the recordings of all the meetings in which they claimed that the field investigation performed by Iñaki was extensive, profound and conclusive, and that it was mainly focused on the immense photographic archive that the family owns and preserved in perfect condition, and supported by a far bigger archive of I do not know what, because evidently it was of no use. I told to all these people that the immense photographic archive that allegedly Iñaki´s work and research was supported by, actually was based on a shoe box that contained no more than 60 photographs, a few letters and some catalog flyers of the SEÑAL, S.A., now on display at the Don S. Shoemaker exhibition at the museum. I coined the term “field trip investigation” to refer to the work of Iñaki. I was right!

At that moment I thought that with all the evidence that I presented, among others: letters of collectors outraged by the flood of forgeries, fakes and attributions, treasure hunters who instead of treasure witnessed the production in 2010 and 2012 of different furniture pieces (now on display at the MAM), and letters of people who bought for example the so called “X-Chairs”, claiming that they were deceived, some others from galleries that had to return the money to their clients, etc. and sustained by all the respect that I had for the Secretaria de Cultura, in my candidness, I thought that they were going to evaluate the situation and realize that after being exposed Mr. Iñaki the way I did, and after having exposed the dates, models and recent production of the “family” I was going to get a favorable verdict and that the name of Don S. Shoemaker and his legacy would have remained unspotted, far from the mud and more important, unrelated to all the felonies, lies and stupidity of Iñaki and company. Of course, the issue of the MAM´s involvement as a main player in the launching and marketing of the heir´s plagiarism designs was a main discussion theme with all the Secretaria de Cultura people and time gave me the reason. SO SAD…

So sad, because the exhibition of what was supposed to be your work opened last Wednesday October 5th with full endorsement from all the people of the Secretaria de Cultura, and to my deepest and sincere discomfort I was right, from all the furniture pieces shown at the MAM maybe there are 4 or 5 that were produced by SEÑAL, S.A. And the worst part is that with no credentials at all, the grandchildren (I do not know if you remember them, but they are the little kids that you saw time after time), using the line “my grandfather was Don S. Shoemaker”, now they made it to show some pieces with the help of Mr. Iñaki, who is far from being a reliable curator to the point in which I will quote his words:“se habló con ex trabajadores que aún viven, que trabajaron con Don que ayudaron a fechar y a deducir los tipos de madera exacta de los muebles en las fotografías”. That´s what the Secretaria de Cultura called an academic investigation!???? At least, Iñaki mentioned on the Exhibition´s Acknowledgement List the name of the only ex-worker who helped him to date and deduce from a photography the exact wood species used in the depicted piece of furniture, and by extension, of course, the newly made ones.

New desk showed at the Don S. Shoemaker exhibition at the MAM (2016)

The X-Chair exhibited at the Don S. Shoemaker exhibition at the Modern Art Museum, Mexico City (2016)

But guess what, today you can see an “interpretation” of Don S. Shoemaker´s Sling Chair on sale at BLEND store made by Stanley, that’s what I call appropriation! You will also find at the MAM´s DS exhibition a “desk”, the new “Sling Chair” and the “X-Chair”, as well as the “Diamond Desk” that I denounced and many pieces produced in the last 5 years that carry a description card like the one that describes the chair used for the wallpaper and the invitation to the exhibition in which you can read: “Don S. Shoemaker, Silla Años 1960 (ensamblada en 2016 con partes originales, tapizada en 2016) Granadillo. Colección Familia Shoemaker. Esta pieza fue revisada por técnicos especialistas del CENCROPAM y de la Escuela de Artesanías del INBA en Septiembre, 2016”

Depicted chair on the invitation - shown at the exhibition (2016)

I have a question for you, Mr. Iñaki: if the grandson of a novelist publishes under his name exactly the same text of one of his grandfather´s novels but written only in capitals, how would you call it, a reinterpretation or a simple and clear appropriation? Or is this one of the liberties that you can indulge yourself, that of course Mr. Fernando Gamboa would never have approved. But I have a confession to make to Mr. Iñaki: I am a little bit jealous of his exhibition because during the last 7 years, as I said, I have been unsuccessful to make this overwhelming exposé of the fakes, forgeries, attributions, etc. that you have been able to put together under the roof of the MAM. CONGRATULATIONS!!! You managed to orchestrate the perfect exposé and I give you all the credits.

P.S.: Please tell George Richard that due to his absence (how convenient), now he is being blamed for all the recent production, for example the “Salas Elefante”, sold in auction in 2010 and most of the reproductions on display at the MAM´s exhibition. Hugs and kisses for you two guys as always!

Warm Regards,


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

The Frank Kyle – Pepe Mendoza connection

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Interior designer, sculptor and artist Frank B. Kyle opened in the early 1950’s first in the Zona Rosa area, and then later in the south of Mexico City in the La Florida neighborhood his design and decorating studio Kyle de México, S.A. He created a whole range of modern and distinctively styled furniture pieces combined with elegant accessories for residential, office spaces and Hotel interiors, using innovative combinations of unique designs, new materials and superb craftsmanship.

When visiting his showrooms, Kyle´s clientele experienced an integrated interior design atmosphere: he combined his furniture pieces with whimsical lamps, a selection of screens, tapestries, batiks, exotic oriental accessories, etc. Some of his furniture lines would include enamel accents or capricious bronze ornamentation, which were designed by Kyle and commissioned to well-known metal workshops like Pepe Mendoza´s or Los Castillo, among others.

José Mendoza manufactured many of Frank Kyle´s designs, including lamps, decorative objects and bronze fittings. Below I have included a small selection of Frank Kyle designed furniture pieces with exquisite metalwork manufactured by the Mendoza foundry, which was located in the street República del Salvador, Mexico City:

Coffee table by Frank Kyle with brass ornaments from the Pepe Mendoza workshop

Frank Kyle Coffee Table with Pepe Mendoza hardware

Frank Kyle Credenza with metal fittings produced at the Pepe Mendoza foundry

Credenza from the Frank Kyle gallery with Pepe Mendoza pulls

As long as the largest hinge producers in Mexico during the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s used to be FANAL or BIMEX, I wonder why galleries and museums, etc. have not come to the idea yet to attribute pieces of furniture to “Mr. Fanal” or to “Mr. Bimex”. As it happened with the hardware from important metal workshops like the Mendoza foundry or Los Castillo, that are usually stamped and this is most likely one of the reasons why much of Frank Kyle´s furniture pieces have mistakenly been attributed to Pepe Mendoza; or maybe it is the lazy and lousy intel of the above mentioned.

The funny thing is that the market price of a furniture piece attributed to Pepe Mendoza is much higher than a furniture piece attributed to Frank Kyle. So I urge the people in the business to now discover “designers” Mr. Fanal and Mr. Bimex and assign to them a higher price tag than to the previously mentioned designers and not to worry about scarcity of the product!

José Mendoza did not design or manufacture any wooden furniture pieces at his foundry, he produced however some magnificent tables in different sizes made in brass or bronze. I have included some samples to clearly differentiate the typical Pepe Mendoza DNA:

Coffee Table designed by Pepe Mendoza (ca. 1960)

Set of occasional tables by Pepe Mendoza (1960’s)

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

The Luis Barragán Room Divider that sold for a six-figure at TEFAF 2016 UNSOLVED MYSTERY

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During the recent TEFAF 2016 in Maastricht, an Art fair which on their Preview day had over 10,000 international private collectors, curators and representatives from the world’s leading museums and public institutions visiting its premises. One of the highlights of the fair was that the Parisian gallery Downtown sold an important piece of furniture from their display dedicated to Luis Barragán. The work is a long pinewood bookcase dated 1951 that also acts as a room divider and according to the gallery the piece was part of a commission for Casa Pedregal in Mexico City. Apparently, it sold to a private collector for a six-figure sum.

I wonder where this large bookcase/room divider was located in the Casa Prieto López when finished by Luis Barragán in 1951; as long as I have not been able to find this big piece of furniture in any of the different areas (bedrooms, library, kitchen, or anywhere else) of the house in my archives until its sudden use as room divider well passed the 1980’s.

I have put together a chronological series of pictures of Casa Prieto´s interior decoration since 1951 until today on the living room and opposite dining room area, as you can see below:

Living Room area Casa Prieto López (1951)

Casa Prieto living room area in 1951 with no room divider or folding screen on the right corner.

Living Room Casa Prieto López (1954)

 In 1954 the living room area at Casa Prieto now shows a folding screen to the right, next to the chimney.

Casa Estudio Luis Barragán

Similar to the “paravent” at Casa Prieto, Luis Barragán used folding screens at his own home, the Casa Estudio Luis Barragán in Mexico City´s Tacubaya neighborhood.

Casa Prieto López (1970) Dining Room

In 1970 we still have the same decorative screen – now seen from the dining room, opposite the living room area.

In 1989 the folding screen is still in the Casa Prieto, separating both, the living room from the dining area.

In 2009 the same dining room at Casa Prieto is now furnished with a large wooden room divider.

Same pinewood room divider seen from the opposite side, the living room at Casa Prieto.

Complete view of this room divider before the sale of Casa Prieto López in 2014 to Mexican businessman César Cervantes, who completed a major renovation project of the house in order to bring it back to its original Luis Barragán state, now called Casa Pedregal.

Casa Pedregal (2014)

Casa Pedregal (formerly Casa Prieto) in 2014. New look after the extensive renovation program that its new owner Cesár Cervantes completed by the fall of 2014.

Casa Pedregal (2015) refurbished dining room

Casa Pedregal in 2015. View of the refurbished dining room now after 64 years, again with no folding screen and/or room divider, bringing it back to its original 1951 state.

Room-Divider at TEFAF 2016

The same room divider from Casa Prieto was now presented by Parisian gallery Downtown at TEFAF 2016, as part of a commission for Casa Pedregal, Mexico City, dated 1951.

UNSOLVED MYSTERY: if you have any picture to document the whereabouts of this big pine piece of furniture before the 1980’s it will be highly appreciated since the furniture of this house from 1951 until well passed the 1970’s was made of “sabino”  wood.

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



Mexican Modernism – Furniture Design in Mexico – Part # 9



I have been asked by several of my readers to elaborate on some Mexican furniture designers that have been mentioned only recently, and that I had skipped in my previous posts on Mexican Modernism Furniture Design, so here we go!

The attribution fever of unscrupulous gallerists compels me to publish the tools to adequately identify their furniture designs. So far, the only pieces that I have found with proper metallic tags in different galleries in Mexico and the United States are the ones I am showing below; among an enormous amount of offerings that are attributions to these designers and in worst-case scenario, original furniture pieces belonging to another well-known furniture designer active in Mexico…

Spanish Civil War refugee Eugenio Escudero founded his furniture factory in Mexico City during the 1940’s. Later on he established his decoration and furniture showroom D’Escudero, S.A., which was located in Dinamarca #54. His furniture designs were mainly produced in mahogany wood with some bronze accents. Worth to mention: his furniture pieces carry a metallic tag “d’Escudero, S.A. decoracion”. Strangely enough, a significant number of works attributed to “Eugenio Escudero” are in fact furniture pieces made by American designer and sculptor Frank B. Kyle, described in my post “Mexican Modernism – Furniture Design in Mexico – Part # 7”.

d’Escudero S.A. Dining Set by Eugenio Escudero (late 1950’s)

Room Divider Screen Drawing by Eugenio Escudero

Room Divider Screen by Eugenio Escudero

Interior Design Drawings by D’Escudero S.A. (1970’s)

Designer Octavio Vidales was known for his extravagant furniture designs that he created for Muebles Johrvy, showroom located in Niza #19, the same street as Arturo Pani´s atelier, in Mexico City. His furniture pieces carry a “Muebles Johrvy” metallic label, as shown below. Recently I have seen several of his furniture designs mistakenly attributed to Roberto and Mito Block.

Octavio Vidales Living Room Set for Muebles Jhorby (ca. 1960’s)

Octavio Vidales Coffee Table (ca. 1960´s)

Armchair designed by Octavio Vidales (ca. 1960’s)

Studio Label “Muebles Jhorby” (1960’s)

…to be continued in part # 10

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

Amazing resemblance between two chair designs

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The Chamela chair was developed and manufactured in Mexico for several years from 1974 and sold through LOGADO, S.A. a top contemporary furniture design shop when Po Shun was living there.

With a minimum of natural materials, a great deal of comfort came from the seat sling. The Mexico City Museum of Modern Art (MAM) exhibited the chair in a design show that included the works of other designers such as Don S. Shoemaker, Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, Clara Porset, Oscar Hagerman, etc.

Chamela Chair by Po Shun Leong (1974)

Mexico City Modern Art Museum (MAM) “Diseño en México” 1975 exhibition

In later years the Museum of Latin American Art and the Palacio Iturbide also put this design on display.

Po Shun came across a similar design from Europe called “Fionda”, designed by Jasper Morrison in 2013.

Produced by Mattiazzi, Italy.
Morrison wrote: Thank you for your mail, I can understand your impression that Fionda owes something to your chair, it’s a remarkable coincidence and I think I like your chair more than Fionda! Actually Fionda was inspired by a Japanese camping chair. Perhaps the Japanese camping chair was inspired by your chair! The photo similarities are even more extraordinary, but again it is a coincidence,…

Design comparison Fionda Chair vs. Chamela Chair

So amazing, that this new contemporary chair design from 2013 by Jasper Morrison has such a remarkable resemblance to Po Shun´s Chamela chair presented in Mexico over 40 years ago, isn´t it?

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

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 written in boldface, 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.

ZONA MACO visitors captivated by Don S. Shoemaker designs

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ZONA MACO Salón del Anticuario 2014 first edition was presented in Mexico City last month. I happened to be visiting the city during those days and I decided to check on this new Antiques Show. My adventure definitively paid off! Even tough the exhibition area was rather small, my attention was immediately captured by one of the participating galleries who had an amazing collection of Don S. Shoemaker´s furniture pieces and accessories on display.

Don Shoemaker´s overwhelming presence at Zona MACO

Don Shoemaker´s iconic furniture as seen at Zona MACO-Salón del Anticuario 2014

Modernist Don Shoemaker’s stole the show in Zona MACO with this Bar Set

I also found this sample of William Spratling’s superb work in silver from the 1940’s, a wooden box containing these 12 silver goblets, intact, never used, with its original wrapping paper…

An amazing set of 12 William Spratling Silver Goblets (1940’s)

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

20th-century furniture design value – Part # 1

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 The past decade has seen a significant rise in the value of 20th-century design, with vintage furniture pieces achieving record prices at auctions. Buying design objects and furniture at auction has become an event on par with a Modern and Contemporary Art auction in London or New York, etc. Today, all main auction houses around the world such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips, Bonhams, RAGO and Wright have design departments and design auction sessions. The market has also seen a rapidly growing number of websites selling vintage furniture online. Beware of knock-off’s and attributions!

Another factor that has affected the market is the increasing interest of museums all around the world to develop a 20th century decorative arts department. There are some museums as well which have been interested in 20th century decorative arts for many years, in some cases predating the 1950’s. But there is only one goal for all of them: display the masterpieces of designers from as many countries as possible, so, when you visit the museum, you are able to enjoy the ultimate of elegance created by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, the Brutalism of Paul Evans, and world record price setter like Eileen Gray, etc. It is obvious that with big players like museums, 20th century design auctions have become an arena where top prices are paid for furniture pieces.

The trend of investing in mid-century furniture started some years ago when collectors realized that the furniture in their residences were clearly below the level of what was hanging on their walls. It´s like to see a 10 carat flawless diamond mounted in a pull tab! What comes first to your mind is that the gemstone is definitively a fake. And that is exactly the same feeling that you have about the artwork when it is displayed on ordinary furniture. It is shocking to see that you are surrounded of artwork ranging from the US$100,000’s to many US$millions and that to enjoy the view, you are seated in a basic and commercial US$1000 mass-produced sofa or that their US$100 mass-produced coffee tables, credenzas, etc. is the place where they displayed from Henry Moore small sculptures to Alexander Calder mobiles or Gabriel Orozco sculptured stones. You just have to check out the pictures available on the web of celebrities and collector´s homes, and you will see that the boring white or brown mass-produced 3-seater or 4-seaters are the standard furniture at their houses.

Furthermore, the people in the design and art industry began taking an interest in mid-century designers. An important factor is that the shapes of the pieces and the materials used are totally adaptable to today’s way of life; timeless, clean lines and modern, using wood and metal and they also fit perfectly well with modern and contemporary art. The rise in prices for 20th century vintage furniture can be attributed to the change in tastes of affluent individuals that started displaying vintage design furniture pieces along with their collections of Modern and Contemporary Art. Nowadays, the decision to buy a collectible mid-century furniture piece is similar to buying artwork.

And then comes the question: what should you buy? Well, as with stocks, there is no magic list…. American mid-20th century furniture designs are keenly sought after by collectors. Handmade pieces are outpacing the mass produced easily knocked-off early production. Collectors have finally realized that there are millions of Eames chairs, and now they are looking for custom designed pieces by the likes of Vladimir Kagan, just as an example. Sure, some “fatigue” is seen in the George Nakashima market, probably indicating a leveling-off after years of being in very high demand; but Nakashima will remain a “blue-chip” name in American furniture in the future, regardless of the vagaries of the market.

George Nakashima Conoid Bench (1963)

George Nakashima Hanging Wall Case with free edge (1963)




 George Nakashima "Slab" Coffee Table (1969)

Vladimir Kagan Mosaic Trisymmetric Dining Table (1950’s)

Vladimir Kagan “Floating Seat and Back” Sofa (ca. 1952)

 Vladimir Kagan Wing Lounge Chair and Ottoman (1970’s)

Of course, a Charles and Ray Eames Lounge Chair with ottoman can qualify – even if it is mass-produced – as long as it’s the right example. There’s been a trend away from mass-produced pieces. But, with the Eames chair, first made in 1956, YOU WANT ROSEWOOD, the way the designers intended it, black leather, and down fill, as before 1988.

20th century furniture is a good investment as there is a growing global taste for furniture designed during that period. My top American designers are Wharton Esherick, George Nakashima, Paul Evans, Wendell Castle and Vladimir Kagan.

Wharton Esherick Desk (1970)

Wharton Esherick Cherry Sideboard (1960)

Wharton Esherick Hammer Handle Chair (late 1930’s)

Paul Evans Cabinet (1969)

Paul Evans "Argente" Wardrobe, Model no. PE-43 (1968)

Paul Evans Dining Table (1970’s)

Wendell Castle Two Seat Sofa (1967)

 Wendell Castle Stacked Walnut Mushroom Table (1972)

Wendell Castle Starfish Console Table (1995)

If you’re looking for an investment-worthy work of art that you can actually use, mid-century modern furniture is a promising choice. As the market for vintage design and furniture grows, collectors are increasingly seeking out special pieces, limited editions and designs made in rosewood and other high quality hardwoods; pay special attention on designers of this last category. There are many extinct woods that they used and of course, following the economics principle of scarcity, this furniture is the one that will increase its value and desirability via its rarity and irreplaceability.

to be continued in Part #2

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

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