Descanso Line – “Descanso” Coffee Table and Lamp Tables

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When going through the literature on American furniture designers from the Mid-Century I found interesting similarities between the lives of Don S. Shoemaker and Wharton Esherick, known as the “Dean of American Craftsmen”. Both started their artistic careers as painters, both were designer-craftsmen pursuing their own unique visions striving towards perfection in craftsmanship in a time when this was already considered to be a relic of the past. Both chose to establish their studio/home in remote areas, Wharton in the Pennsylvania hills, Don in a small uphill village overlooking the city of Morelia. Despite an isolated existence both  were always up to date on what was going on in the world and absorbed influences from emerging movements into their designs. As Wharton Esherick did, Don also developed over the years a following of devoted customers who became addicted to his work, returning year after year for another piece.

During the late 1950’s and the 1960’s we saw the upraising of Brazilian furniture designers Sergio Rodrigues with his “Poltrona Mole” and Jean Gillon with his “Jangadá”. Don´s “Descanso Set”(*) was highly estimated by his Brazilian counterparts, as long as he was an absolute perfectionist and went even further by adding to his “Descanso Line” a matching Descanso Coffee Table and a pair of Lamp or Side Tables:


(*) Check my post on the “Descanso Set” from 2010

The Descanso Coffee Table with its two Lamp/Side Tables was produced with parquetry top in solid cueramo hardwood, Zebra wood or for the more demanding tastes in cocobolo. The cocobolo Coffee Table depicted here belongs to my personal collection and I use it together with a cocobolo “Descanso” Lounge Chair and Ottoman.

Another interesting feature about these Coffee Tables and Lamp and/or Side Tables is that the table top is detachable. I have included a close up on the table´s legs for you, a delightful design.

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

Don S. Shoemaker Design Lines – the “Descanso” set

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Thanks to the support of Dick Shoemaker I was able to get a vintage SEÑAL, S.A. catalogue from him including Don´s  most recognized design lines. I am presenting today the catalogue page of Don´s famous “Descanso” set.

The “Descanso” design dates back to the 1960’s, it was produced in zebra wood, cueramo or cocobolo, the leather upholstery was usually black, but you could also choose it in brown. The pictures shown below correspond to my personal collection and show the wearing of at least 40 years. Please click on the pictures for further details on each piece. A matching coffee table and two side tables made the perfect combination, however, I will describe these separately.

Please pay attention to the side leather armrest covers, the wadding has graciously loose fitted to the armrests through the years. Of course brand new copies are stiff and stand vertically! Pieces were always labeled and it is almost impossible to find a set that not even one of them carries the decal studio label.

Back in the 1960´s Sergio Rodrigues with his “Poltrona Moleca” or “Sheriff Lounge-chair“,  Jean Gillon and other Brazilian furniture designers created similar models. Beware of the provenance of these pieces whenever they are referred to as the “Brasil” model. Forgers have the idea that Don S. Shoemaker called them this way, the title in the catalogue proves the original name of the model.

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

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