Frank Guille: Geometrics

Frank Guille contributed to Baseline 60 with his graphic letter compositions. They have clear, concise forms and are created in natural, harmonious colour combinations.

'Geometrics' by Frank Guille. Baseline 60, 2011.
‘Geometrics’ by Frank Guille. Baseline 60, 2011.

Frank was foremost a furniture designer and later teacher and Head of Furniture Design at the RCA London. Born in 1927, he was taught by Robin Day and John Cole at the Beckenham School of Art. Following a spell of service with the Royal Navy, Frank was taught Furniture Design by Gordon Russell, also Danish designer Kaare Klint, who are amongst the most important ‘modern’ furniture designers. Following two years of experience with modernist architect Wells Coates he set up his own design company.

Guille’s furniture designs were led by his belief in function, utility and simplicity. His elegant furniture was visually simple and refined and he took commissions from Heals and Kandya Ltd. For the latter, he designed a re-style of a stacking chair – the Jason chair, originally designed by Carl Jacobs. The seat was constructed from a single sheet of beech laminate with a steel leg base, opposed to Jacobs original wooden legs.

The iconic 1950s Jason chair was originally designed by the Danish designer Carl Jacobs for Kandya of Middlesex, UK. These are the slightly later editions that Frank Guille re-designed changing the solid Beech legs to slim metal ones.

Guille’s line of kitchen furniture for Kandya Ltd was based on a modular system and gave customers a choice of different layouts for their units. There were options of sliding glass doors and large pull-down doors, painted in combinations of fresh earthy colours. His unconventional modern designs were showcased in the 1951 Festival of Britain. Nowadays Guille’s furniture is well sought after, sadly not many of the high quality items remain.

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‘Trimma’ cabinet unit for Kandya Ltd.

Kandya2

Baseline visited Frank Guille at his home, in a little hamlet in Kent, in 2011. Guille’’s quiet, polite and charming character created a welcoming atmosphere in his Kentish oasthouse. Although high in age his eyes were full of sparkle and he showed an interested in everything of quality craft and technical. Guille was very pleased with the design and the production of Baseline, his article and also commented positively on our brief introductory text. His geometric graphic shapes (‘Graphische Gestaltung’) have a similar visual vocabulary to that of type design.

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‘Geometrics’ by Frank Guille. Baseline 60, 2011.

Frank Guille at home

His holistic approach to design and quality was evident and present in the day-to-day objects and furniture throughout his home –designed and produced by Scandinavian designers such as Hans Wegner, Erik Magnussen, Tapio Wirkkala, Iittala, Ikea –– simple, minimal and functional a house was full of inspiration. We have been very fortunate to be able to draw inspiration from this great designer.

9 Comments

  1. This is to inform you that, sadly, Frank passed away earlier this July 2017. He is fondly remembered.

    • I am the celebrant who is conducting the funeral of this lovely man and I wondered if you would like to email me any memories you have of this man so I can share them in the service. I will need these by Saturday 5th August 2017

  2. I was delighted to chance upon this website and even more delighted to report to you that Frank is alive and just celebrated his 90th birthday this month. Some retro-furniture sites state that he passed away in 1997 and I have attempted to correct this information which originated from a Christie’s 20th century furniture sale.
    Frank was one of my teachers at the Royal College of Art and later became a colleague when I joined the staff. When I was appointed to succeed Robert Heritage as professor in 1985, we became quite close and I still visit him about once a year.

  3. hi there, big fan of his work, Do you know if he’s still alive at all, I’m almost 100 percent sure I’ve seen this house in a village near my local area

  4. My name is Steven Jacobs I am the yougest son of Carl jacobs. I would like to reach out to Frank Guille if that were posibble. Please forward him or his family my email below

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