Don Shoemaker designed and manufactured finely crafted wooden furniture in rural Morelia, in Michoacán, Mexico. The Nebraska native trained at the Art Institute of Chicago before immigrating to Mexico with his wife Barbara after World War II. By the early 1950s, Shoemaker had begun to produce furniture and accessories made from tropical woods. His company, Señal, would eventually employ over 100 workers, operating retail shops in both Morelia and Puerto Vallarta. He exported his products to the United States, selling them through department stores as well as smaller design shops, including the Los Angeles showroom of Jerome and Evelyn Ackerman.
Shoemaker’s expressive designs—which ranged from bulbous biomorphic chairs to boldly geometric stack-laminated tables—reflected the growing commitment to individual expression that characterized craft in the 1960s and 1970s. His work offered new interpretations of many classic designs, from Gerrit Rietveld’s iconic Zig-Zag chair to the time-honored folding camp chair. His Sling Chair provides a casual update to the butaque , making him one of many modern designers to pay homage to this traditional Latin American form.
Staci Steinberger, Assistant Curator, Decorative Arts and Design