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Michael Van Beuren

Michael Van Beuren

Michael van Beuren was born in New York, on March 18, 1911. He arrived in Mexico in 1937 looking for new horizons and the possibility of working as an untitled architect. First he spent a season in Acapulco, and took over the construction and interior design of the Flamingo’s Hotel bungalows, then headed to Mexico City. His first jobs in the capital were a series of houses that would carry numbers 1, 2 and 3 on Liverpool Street.

Once attached to the country, Van Beuren realized that it would be difficult to practice without the title of architect, but with his skill and knowledge acquired in the Bauhaus, he could venture into the furniture industry and provide Mexican society with a new offer of design, more in line with the new times, and that would adapt to the modern architecture that already stood out in the panorama.

In 1938 he began to design furniture with his colleague of the Bauhaus, the German designer Klaus Grabe, in this way they created a small company that operated under the name of Grabe & Van Beuren.

Subsequently Michael van Beuren created Domus, his first brand and probably the best known. With that name, the first store would be opened at number 40 on Hamburg Street in the 1940s; this company served as an umbrella for various brands that flooded the Mexican market with interesting designs and a much more international and modern approach, leaving behind the “Mexican style” that intellectuals and artists had tried to put on fashion in this frantic search for an identity national.

In 1941, Van Beuren participated in the Organic Design for Home Furnishing contest, organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This contest for the first time included Latin American designers in its call. That occasion the pair formed by the marriage of Clara Porset and Xavier Guerrero and the trio formed by Michael van Beuren, Klaus Grabe and Morley Webb won an award. It was then when the chaise loungue that Michael had named as Alacrán began to be sold in Bloomingdale’s at a price of 69.98 dollars.

In 1950 Fredderick T. van Beuren, Michael’s brother, went on to take care of the production part of the workshop, with the intention of making it more efficient, to grow it with a view to turning it into a real factory. With his brother in the organization chart, the business ceased to be called Domus – although the brand was retained – to become Van Beuren S.A. of C.V.

Towards the middle of that decade, Van Beuren, S.A. of C.V. He was already able to produce in series, which allowed him to make several lines at the same time and also preserve a great quality.

In addition to Domus, Van Beuren produced other lines that were very successful and came at a time when Mexico was looking for a transition towards a more international aesthetic. Such was the case of the Calpini brand, which is reported by Espacios magazine in 1951, and Decapóls (1961), which, with a strong Bauhaus influence, was one of the most popular during that period and came to be a great success. sales in stores like The Port of Liverpool.

Michael van Beuren continued designing and retired to live in the city of Cuernavaca where he died in 2004. Today his furniture represents one of the most fruitful moments of furniture production in the country, and has become an important part of history of design in Mexico of the twentieth century.