D.M. National: The Furniture of the Mexican Miracle

The history of industrial design in our country, has its own emergence, development and characters. Among them, the figure of Antonio Ruiz Galindo, whose vision and work led the furniture to strengthen this new discipline related to architecture, interior design and comfort.  


Antonio Ruiz Galindo was born in Córdoba, Veracruz, in the san sebastian neighborhood in 1897; raised by his mother who had to wash outside to support him, he quickly joined the ranks of the Revolution. Having militated with Candide Aguilar took him into exile in the United States for some time and when he returned he had to find a way to stay and find an activity in which to move forward.

In this way he began in the field of sales with the company General Fireproofing Co., and later with the Commercial and Distributing Co. which were his first contacts with steel furniture. But it was until 1929 and with the amount of ten thousand pesos that he obtained thanks to the mortgage of his room, that he founded Distribuidora Mexicana (DM) dedicated at that time to the sale of imported steel furniture for offices. In 1932, accompanied by thirteen workers, in a modest workshop on Gorostiza Street in Mexico City, he decided to start the manufacture of such furniture in the country.

To start with this small company Ruiz Galindo contacted the people with which he dealt in his time as an importer. Unfortunately, this first plant was completely burned down in 1937, but not everything was lost, as this gave him the opportunity to create a new one in the northeast of Mexico City. The place that Ruiz Galindo chose to install his new factory was located on land of what was then the town of San Juan de Aragón, in an area of 450 thousand square meters, which was inaugurated in 1940.

During the early years of this decade everything was a bonanza for the new D.M. Nacional. The furniture he produced became a staple of the decoration of public offices and government institutions. Thanks to large contracts and agreements, he was responsible for furnishing the waiting rooms of the imss, of the sept, all kinds of public and private offices and in general, to equip the entire bureaucracy of the long Mexican Miracle. In addition to the new factory, the company of Ruíz Galindo had a colorful exhibition hall on the Paseo de la Reforma, very close to the columbus roundabout and another in Ghent Street in the Historic Center, designed by the architect Juan Sordo Madaleno.

This important expansion of his negotiation allowed him to inaugurate in 1946 the National Industrial City, a vast unit of work and room that had very unique characteristics. Designed and performed to raise the worker's standard of living in a real and effective way, the industrial city provided staff, in addition to other services, with social services such as canteens where meals were made free of charge and based on a highly nutritious diet monitored by doctors; clinics and medical services; kindergarten and elementary school, also with food service; technical training school for workers; library, market, gym, sports field and swimming pool; housing unit for workers and transportation.

For the years when Ruiz Galindo inaugurated his industrial city, the importance of furniture in relation to spaces was also beginning to be debated among the architectural guild. There was already talk of the trend towards integration in architectural or industrial design, of furniture as a functional object, but at the same time with an aesthetic value appropriate to the place that houses it. Thus, the furniture ceased to be an arbitrary object and became an architectural element, with essential interactions and that had to speak the same language as its building.

Similarly, the design of the furniture was considered to share the main characteristics of architectural design, such as "the consideration of fluidly continuously spaces; the indistinct use of natural or synthetic materials; the release of geometric rigidity; the rhythmic use of modular units"; among others. In general, it all depended on the space in which it was to be used, the furniture had to be contingent on it and in a placement that did not obstruct the movement of the body or the view, and that always tended to create real spatial amplitude or feel of it.

Over time, Ruiz Galindo's company would not only produce house or office supplies, but also begin to manufacture the great equipment that hotel entrepreneurs generally had to import from the United States because there was no one here to manufacture them. Ruiz Galindo had the turn to choose a niche that was not developed in Mexico and this gave him the possibility to enter the market significantly, to avoid competition and to innovate in many ways.

At the end of 1958, on the twelfth anniversary of the opening of the Industrial City and as a sign of the dominance that the company's workers had achieved in the technique of manufacturing furniture and steel equipment for office, D.M. Nacional presented its new line of furniture called Line H, which was considered the most revolutionary in the matter: "designed with funny aesthetic expression, according to the time and the international trend of functionalism" in addition, the novelty of the colors chosen to harmonize with the decoration, as well as the multiple possible combinations to suit the specific functions of each office, business, etc., summarized the mastery that the company had achieved over 30 years of furniture manufacturing.

Ruiz Galindo would later found Industrias Ruiz Galindo S.A., another furniture factory but domestic and non-institutional, which was characterized by hiring budding designers and architects such as Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, and reinterpreting models of foreign designers such as Charles Eames or Eero Saarinen. Today D.M. Nacional is considered a fundamental reference in the history of Mexican industrial design, in the birth of Mexican industry and in the economic growth of the country.

by Paulina Martínez Figueroa

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