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