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.

Mexican Modernism – Furniture Design in Mexico – Part # 3

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José Mendoza was a Mexican designer who ran a foundry in Mexico City under the registered trade name of “Pepe Mendoza”. The Mendoza “taller” produced brass decorative hardware, extravagant lamps, some tables and bronze accessories. His work is characterized by a cloisonné-type/enamel technique, Mendoza´s designs were mostly based upon pre-Columbian motifs which he modernized to conform Mexican and international tastes. Several modernists like California designers Jerome and Evelyn Ackerman and Mexico City based American designer and sculptor Frank B. Kyle used Pepe Mendoza´s hardware to embellish their furniture pieces during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Beware of fakes and copycats, always look for the genuine Mendoza foundry mark!

Coffee Table by Pepe Mendoza (1960's)

Arturo Pani was the younger brother of Mario Pani, a prominent Mexican Modernist architect and editor of the magazine “Arquitectura México”. Both Mario and Arturo entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Mario was inclined toward architecture and Arturo chose decoration and interior design. Both brothers returned to Mexico City by 1934. Arturo’s first project was the furniture design and decoration of the family house. Mario’s first major project was the construction of the Hotel Reforma in Mexico City in 1936, which became the emblem of Mexican Modernism. Arturo Pani was given carte blanche to design the furniture and interiors of the lobby and several salons of the Hotel Reforma. (Diego Rivera created the murals for one of the dining rooms).

His studio Arturo Pani D., S.A. was active in Mexico City well into the 1970’s. Arturo Pani was “the” decorator to the elite of Mexico and known for creating the famous “Acapulco Look”. Pani did not actually produce his furniture designs by himself; he worked with several outsourced artisans and selected workshops. He had a preference for gilded iron, which he used extensively for the design of his coffee tables, console tables, lamps, etc., these designs where produced by the blacksmith workshop of Manuel Chacón – the Talleres Chacón in Mexico City. Some of Arturo Pani’s well-known designs include furniture pieces decorated all over with mirrors; however few of these remain in good condition.

Robert and Mito Block were born in France and migrated to Mexico in the late 1930’s and worked through the 1970’s. They were known for their Neo-classical style with a very sober air toward modernism. Besides being painters they had a decorating and design showroom in Mexico City known as Rob Block & Cía. Their work is characterized by Greek-key motifs and tapered forms, primarily metalwork, sometimes with verre églomisé elements. Same as Arturo Pani, the Block Brothers used the Talleres Chacón blacksmith workshop in Mexico City for the execution of their designs.


…to be continued in part # 4

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