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Michael Van Beuren (1911–2004) was born in New York and studied architecture at the Bauhaus under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Josef Albers until its closure in 1933. He moved to Acapulco at the end of 1936, where he oversaw the interiors of the bungalows at the renowned Flamingo Hotel in 1937, and quickly became a formative member of the Mexican Modernism movement.


By 1938, Van Beuren began focusing on furniture design, working with a fellow Bauhaus colleague, Klaus Grabe, to create modern and affordable pieces. Inspired by the local culture and craftsmanship, the duo applied Bauhaus design principles to popular Mexican mainstays, such as woven reclining chaises and wooden dining chairs. Their approach was a success; the pair was one of the winners of a 1941 competition organised by MoMA targeting teams from Latin America called ‘Organic Design for Home Furnishings’, which catapulted them to wide regard. 


In the following years, Van Beuren founded his furniture label Domus, which became synonymous with well-crafted, modernist design that garnered fans both in Mexico and America. Along with his own designs, Domus also produced work by Clara Porset, a friend and contemporary of Van Beuren’s. However, by 1951, the company’s move towards more mass manufacturing meant that Van Beuren’s earlier designs were no longer being produced.


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Photo: Interior showroom display with Van Beuren furnishings, circa 1941. Credit: Franz Meyer

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