Lurelle Guild, FIDSA

Lurelle Guild, FIDSA
(1898-1986)

Lurelle Van Arsdale Guild was born in Syracuse, NY in 1898. He attended Syracuse University where he studied painting, as well as some freelance designing. After graduation he and his wife relocated to New York City. He was a student of 17th and 18th century design and crafting methods. Using his training in art and mechanical drawing, Guild worked in art industries, namely home furnishings and decorative arts.

Prior to 1934, when he was featured in a Fortune magazine that introduced the new profession of industrial design, he wrote five articles per month for women¹s magazines, and turned them into 200 books and pamphlets.

Guild started his own business in 1924 called Lurelle Guild Associates. With an eight person staff, the company made models and worked on product development. In 1928 he renamed the Business "The Guild of Industrial Design". He also started Dale Decorators, which was a door-to-door decorating service. This enterprise employed over one hundred women who marketed wallpapers, curtains, and carpeting. Guild scoured the country for antiques and sold them. His early interest in crafts led him to study Chauncey Jerome, New Haven clock maker who was one of the fathers of mass production. Guild moved an entire early American village from New Hampshire to Darien, CT.

Guild played an active role in product development and marketing. He designed about a thousand products per year. He placed samples of his products in retail shops and surveyed potential customers. In one instance, Guild even put refrigerators, including those of his competitors, into a truck and drove them into a local neighborhood in order poll the residents. When Guild invented a new product, he patented it and then assigned the patent to the manufacturer, charging a fee and then royalties. One of his clients was Alcoa Aluminum, maker of Kensington Ware kitchen utensils. Guild responded to the company's needs and requests for certain types of products and improvements to some already produced. This explains why so many derivations of Kensington Ware items are in existence.

Lurelle Guild was also a talented exhibit designer. He designed the Kensington showroom in Rockefeller Center in New York City. Indirect lighting was used from below display shelves. The walls were painted so that they graduated from dark blue-green to white and the linoleum floors were color schemed to match them. He also designed the permanent "museum" at Alcoa's New York offices, which displayed individual products as works of art, utilizing modern display tables of extruded aluminum and z-shaped window treatments that eliminated glare and allowed daylight to enter the room at various angles.

In 1937 Guild designed the Model 30 tank-type vacuum cleaner for Electrolux in dramatic Art Deco style.

Not much is known of Lurelle Guild's later years. In 1979 he was asked to provide some information for an Art Deco exhibit in Pittsburgh, assembled by the American Society of Interior Designers. He offered to lend his own Kensington pieces for the exhibit, but unfortunately many of them were lost when the cook at his Bermuda home passed away, taking with him the knowledge of to whom he had loaned the Kensington Ware.

His most famous design was the 1937 Electrolux cleaner.

Guild died in Darien, CT, in 1986.