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Don S. Shoemaker

American, 1919-1990

If it weren’t for his honeymoon, American furniture designer Don S. Shoemaker might not have played any role in Mexican modernism of the mid-20th century.

Born in Nebraska in 1919, Shoemaker studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during the 1930s. In the 1940s he got married, and he and his wife, Barbara, ventured to Mexico for their honeymoon. Enamored with the country, Shoemaker decided that Mexico should become the newlyweds' permanent home. They settled in a town called Santa Maria de Guido in Michoacán, where Shoemaker spent his days painting and growing rare plants.

Through horticulture, Shoemaker became inspired by Mexico’s tropical woods, such as the cocobolo, a Mexican rosewood, and he decided to delve into furniture design. In the late 1950s, he started a small factory, producing hand-carved armchairs, dining room tables, decorative boxes and bowls, and serveware. The popularity of Shoemaker’s furnishings grew throughout Mexico, and his small factory became the Señal S.A. company, employing more than 100 skilled artisans and carpenters.

Shoemaker’s handcrafted designs were essentially a mid-century modern interpretation of traditional Mexican household furnishings, and like Clara Porset — an unsung Cuban-born activist, writer and designer who drew on Mexican craft traditions in her concepts for furniture — he found inspiration from his adopted country. These influences can be seen in iconic Shoemaker originals like the Sling collection of seating, the Suspension stool and several of his table designs.

Shoemaker's furniture was exhibited in showrooms in several major Mexican cities and across the U.S., including Houston, Chicago, and Los Angeles (and mid-century modernist ideas that traveled between Mexico and California didn’t make one-way trips — they bounced back and forth).

After Shoemaker died in 1990, his son George took over Señal S.A. The company closed after George’s death in the early 2000s.

Shoemaker’s Mexican modern furnishings continue to be coveted by avid furniture collectors around the world. From 2016 to 2017, the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City dedicated a retrospective exhibition to honoring his work.

On 1stDibs, discover a range of vintage Don S. Shoemaker desks, seating, decorative objects and serveware.

Average Sold Price
$1,936
Styles
Materials
Mid-Century Modern Don S. Shoemaker's Sling Chair
By Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Guadalajara, MX
Modern Sloucher leather sling chair in exotic wood designed and produced by famed modernist, Don S Shoemaker. Mexico, 1960s Rare Solid Cocobolo wood frame with black leather sling s...
Category

1960s Mexican Mid-Century Modern Vintage Don S. Shoemaker

Materials

Leather, Cocobolo

Large Don Shoemaker for Señal Bookends in Solid Cocobolo
By Don S. Shoemaker
Located in San Diego, CA
A pair of solid wood bookends by Mexican-American designer Don Shoemaker for his company, Señal. Rendered in highly figured cocobolo wood, a species of local tropical wood with a sim...
Category

1960s Mexican Mid-Century Modern Vintage Don S. Shoemaker

Materials

Cocobolo

Don Shoemaker Rosewood "Sloucher" Lounger Chair
By Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Kalamazoo, MI
Solid Brazilian Rosewood lounge chair designed by Don Shoemaker in the 1950s. Unique organic forms and a combination of excellent materials provide a special seating experience. The ...
Category

Mid-20th Century Mexican Mid-Century Modern Don S. Shoemaker

Materials

Leather, Rosewood

Don Shoemaker Folding Leather & Rosewood Stool for Señal Furniture
By Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Don Shoemaker Folding Leather & Rosewood Stool for Señal Furniture
Category

1960s Mexican Mid-Century Modern Vintage Don S. Shoemaker

Materials

Leather, Rosewood

Don Shoemaker Sling Chair
By Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Carmel, NY
The iconic beautiful Don Shoemaker sling chair. Made for Señal S.A. Made from solid Cocobolo Wood with original brown leather. Made in the 1960s in Mexico in Santa Maria de Guido, ov...
Category

1960s Mexican Vintage Don S. Shoemaker

Materials

Leather, Cocobolo

  • Don Shoemaker Sling Chair
  • Don Shoemaker Sling Chair
  • Don Shoemaker Sling Chair
  • Don Shoemaker Sling Chair
H 27.25 in. W 23.25 in. D 26 in.
Don Shoemaker Sculpted Cocobolo Rosewood Bookends for Señal Furniture
By Senal, Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Don Shoemaker Sculpted Cocobolo Rosewood Bookends for Señal Furniture
Category

1960s Mexican Mid-Century Modern Vintage Don S. Shoemaker

Materials

Rosewood, Cocobolo

Don Shoemaker Sculpted Rosewood Bookends for Señal Furniture
By Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Don shoemaker sculpted rosewood bookends for Señal Furniture.
Category

1960s Mexican Mid-Century Modern Vintage Don S. Shoemaker

Materials

Rosewood, Cocobolo

Don Shoemaker Sling "Swinger" Chair and Ottoman, Mexico 1960s
By Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Camden, ME
A Classic 20th century chair and ottoman from one of the great craftsman's workshops of Mexico: Senal, S.A., Don Shoemaker's tropical paradise in Michoacan, Mexico. This iconic chai...
Category

1960s Mexican Mid-Century Modern Vintage Don S. Shoemaker

Materials

Leather, Cocobolo

Browse all Furniture from Don S. Shoemaker
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Don S. Shoemaker furniture for sale on 1stDibs

Furniture from Don S. Shoemaker are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive objects are often made of wood and designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Don S. Shoemaker furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. In-stock we have 99 vintage editions of these items, while there is also 0 modern edition to choose from. Many of the original furniture by Don S. Shoemaker was created in North America during the 20th century in the Mid-Century Modern style. Many customers also consider furniture by Michael Van Buren, Silleria La Malinche and Industrias Ruiz Galindo SA (IRGSA). Prices for Don S. Shoemaker furniture can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. The price for these items starts at US$250 and tops out at US$38,500, while pieces like these can sell for US$1,500 on average.

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