Equipale Furniture

This unique and interesting furniture is still
 manufactured by hand, much the same as it was 
during  Pre-Hispanic times,
with roots in Aztec culture dating back to the 1500s

In the town of Zacoalco de Torres, about an hours drive from Guadalajara Mexico, more than 300 families  manufacture this furniture for shipment
throughout Mexico and the United States.

The town has no factory.  
The Equipales are made by families in make shift tallers or workshops. 

The pine frame of the Equipale is joined together 
with cactus fiber known as ixtle.
and the seats are usually made from pigskin, 
which it is porous, allowing air and moisture to circulate, 
thus making it last longer.

Equipales can be found in a variety of artistic and rustic products and techniques, including tree bark, branches, weavings,
 palms and decorative paintings.

Equipale furniture is considered a part of the cultural patrimony of Mexico.  
These are things or objects that give a distinct identity to the country.  
Many of Mexico's cultural museums 
have coordinated exhibitions of Equipales 
to protect intact antique collections.

A chair, left outside can last at least 20 years.  
How about that for rugged patio furniture!

This set, I found on Ebay for $500 dollars.  
The owner stated that they purchased it in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, in 1985 
and have used it continually since then.
The patina seems to be more beautiful as the chairs age.
You can also paint or oil the furniture.
 My personal love for this furniture started in the early 80's 
when my husband and I took vacations to Cabo San Lucas 
and stayed at Palmilla.
 All of the hotels and restaurants had Equipale furniture.  
 It is really comfortable to sit on, 
especially after a couple of margaritas!
 Early California ranch houses were often furnished with Equipales.
 Will Rogers and his family lived in one of these wonderful ranches 
in Pacific Palisades.
 The Will Rogers Ranch is now a State Park 
and the house is open to the public for tours.
Wow... that is a rather large "dog" in the living room!
This traditional Mexican furniture pairs beautifully 
with Native American weavings

 Thomas Molesworth furniture
 vintage camp furniture
 and Old Hickory

And here is another bonus...Equipales are inexpensive!

A chair typically runs about $200 dollars

I recently purchased a set of 4 chairs 
and I can't wait to see how many different ways I can use them.

These may not be for everyone but they are unique and different.
I doubt we will be seeing them in the Pottery Barn catalog
...well then again,
never say never 


  1. Hi Kelley!
    Big Dog? I think that is a baby Brahma in the living room! They are supposed to be gentle. I know, I know...rodeos and all...but any cow in the living room? Would make a great P.E.T.A. poster!! LOL! Love the post...Love Cabo...Lots of stories...
    Hugs, Chris

  2. Kelley, These are so wonderful and I really love the bench!!

    Art by Karena

    Be sure to enter my Giveaway from the Artisans at Novica!

  3. Someone at Pottery Barn is probably reading this right now and calling production to get them made in China.

  4. Hey Chris...I was thinking it was a cow of some sort!

    Karena...the bench is great , I agree!

    Nita...you are so right. We will have a good laugh in about 6 months right?

    xo kelley

  5. What beautiful furniture! The patina is stunning. I have never seen or heard of this so I just learned something new. Great post!

  6. I have seen these before but never knew the history behind them!
    Thanks for the lesson.
    I love the look and also love how leather gets better with age. Great post!
    Glad I found you this evening through Boho Farm and Caroline.

  7. I have always loved Equipale chairs and tables! I knew you were a girl after my heart, and you continue to be!! Great post and great history lesson!!!

  8. Kelly, I have never seen Equipale furniture. I guess it is not something you see on the east coast. I really enjoyed your post and got to learn something at the same time. I am sure that your chairs will look amazing with what you do. Very cool! Lori

  9. In my travels, I had seen this furniture before, but was totally unaware of its origins. Thank you for sharing...it's fascinating. Love the photos of the old California ranch houses...and the Will Rogers photo with the "dog". Can you imagine having a bovine as an indoor pet?
    Have a wonderful weekend...
    Jane (artfully graced)

  10. I guess it is time for me to unsubscribe to this post, not through any fault of yours. In my very hard-working, creative, artistic life, $200 is not an inexpensive chair...$20 is! It's not healthy for me to constantly be exposed to the lovely things and experiences only wealthy people can have. I have chosen to teach small children who struggle to learn, and that profession is not respected by the American culture, therefore, it is not well-paid. But I have a joy-filled colorful home and yard made from cast-offs, hand-me-downs and goodwill purchases. I best stick to those blogs who inspire without breeding discontent within me. Once again, not your fault...mine.

  11. Hey there Anon: I totally understand. I think we all would be lying if we didn't read a blog now and then and feel funny about certain things. I must admit that there are certain blogs I simply cannot read because they make me feel inadequate.

    I too try to live a creative and artistic life. Many of the posts I write have nothing to do with with expensive furniture or living in a big trophy house...in fact quite the opposite.

    I find joy in planting a seed packet in my garden that costs a couple of dollars. I also love to go to the goodwill, thrift sores and yard sales. I love to buy vintage clothing too. Some of my favorite things are the weird and wonderful "finds" from 20 years ago...that I got for pennies.

    I also think you are wrong to think that Americans do not respect your work and the value that it brings to the children of this country.

    I hope you will change your mind and stop by again...I like to think that maybe there is some joy in reading what others do and think about and how they spend their time.

    I do agree that 200 dollars might be expensive but the culture and history of the Equipale chair is important and the families who make them are proud of their work. When you buy a chair like this you buy a bit of history...much better that buying something from a catalog.

    Thank you for your comment and please do not feel bad, there is no fault in expressing how you feel.

    xo kelley

  12. I can't wait to see how you use these, I know it will be fabulous.

  13. Thanks for sharing the history of this furniture! I saw it here and there as a kid in California...but most recently saw a lot of it on a mission trip to central Mexico in 2005. Cool!

  14. I recently acquired a 1940s set of 11 pieces in really great condition. It was well cared for by a family that acquired it in the 40's and is part of a small group of surviving vintage sets left. Id sell it, but a really good vintage set like this would be priced in the $5-6 thousand range because of the rarity of intact quality sets. So the new prices seem reasonable to me. We recently had a 300 lb guest who could not believe how comfortable and sturdy the barrel chair was!

  15. I recently acquired a child size table and chairs. They are so cute! Your blog popped up in my Google search during research. So far you have the best information I have found. My son watched a documentary on this furniture recently and said the vintage pieces were quite valuable. I'm thinking of asking $350 for my set. Do you feel this is a fair price?! Thanks in advance for your response!


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