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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
$1,743
Styles
Materials
Pair of Rosewood Table Lamps by Don Shoemaker for Senal, Mexico, 1960s
By Senal, Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Pair of rosewood tables designed by Don Shoemaker for Senal, Mexico, 1960s. They pair have been recently rewired and include custom wax covered parchment shades with a waxed string d...
Category

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

Materials

String, Rosewood, Parchment Paper

Midcentury Bowl by Mexican Modernist Don Shoemaker 1960s
By Don S. Shoemaker
Located in San Diego, CA
Bowl by Mexican Modernist Don Shoemaker. Retains original labels from his workshop in Señal Mexico. Designer Don Shoemaker ( was born in Nebraska and studied at the Art Institute...
Category

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

Materials

Wood

Don Shoemaker Large Marquetry Box with Scallop Trim for Senal
By Senal, Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Los Angeles, CA
A large Rosewood box with geometric pattern by Don Shoemaker for his company Señal, c.1960s, Mexico. Shoemaker is known for the marquetry in his work, which is clearly visible in the...
Category

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

Materials

Rosewood

Don Shoemaker for Senal S.A. Cocobolo Rosewood Leather Sofa, Mid Century
By Senal, Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Vienna, AT
Rare rosewood and leather sofa, very comfortable and in great condition, Don Shoemaker A stunning vintage 75" safari sofa in solid rosewood and leather. US- born Don Shoemaker has...
Category

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

Materials

Leather, Rosewood

Don Shoemaker Exotic Wood Inlaid Decorative Briefcase for Señal, circa 1970
By Senal, Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Exquisitely crafted slim decorative briefcase designed by Don Shoemaker for Señal of Mexico. Taking advantage of the expertise provided by Mexican artisans, shoemaker founded Señal...
Category

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

Materials

Jacaranda, Rosewood, Cocobolo

Don Shoemaker Exotic Wood Inlaid Tray for Señal, circa 1970, Large Size Version
By Senal, Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Signed and exquisitely crafted rectangular shape tray designed by Don Shoemaker for Señal of Mexico. Taking advantage of the expertise provided by Mexican artisans, Shoemaker founde...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Don S. Shoemaker

Materials

Jacaranda, Rosewood, Cocobolo

Pair of Original Don Shoemaker Leather Sling Chairs
By Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Mexico City, CDMX
Pair of original vintage sling chairs designed and produced by Don Shoemaker for Señal S.A, solid Cocobolo with original black leather sling seat, circa 1960, includes original label...
Category

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

Materials

Wood

  • Pair of Original Don Shoemaker Leather Sling Chairs
  • Pair of Original Don Shoemaker Leather Sling Chairs
  • Pair of Original Don Shoemaker Leather Sling Chairs
  • Pair of Original Don Shoemaker Leather Sling Chairs
H 27.17 in. W 23.23 in. D 27.17 in.
Rare Mexican Modern Chair by Don Shoemaker
By Don S. Shoemaker
Located in Round Rock, TX
Incredibly uncommon chair designed by Don Shoemaker. This beauty was designed in 1960 and referred as silla “Tubo”. Made from cocobolo, leather and tubular steel stretchers that fit ...
Category

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

Materials

Steel

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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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