Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Book Find: Designed for Living

Last night I was searching my bookshelves for a particular book when I came across this gem- Designed for Living by Lurelle Guild. (I have no idea who Lurelle Guild was, but with a name like that Mr. or Ms. Guild had to be pretty interesting.) Written in 1936 as a promotional piece for the Scranton Lace Company, the book is filled with lots of practical information on color, furniture placement, and furniture styles.

It's really a jewel of a book. There are no photos in this slim volume, only charming and colorful drawings. I love the breathy excitement that Guild conveyed when it came to the "modern" look. After all, it was the 1930s, and the average American was just beginning to experiment with modern design. And have you ever noticed that many of the old books include sections on Colonial American furniture and design? You certainly don't see that in books published today. That's a look that has fallen to the wayside.

Anyway, I think the book is so fun and wanted to share some of the illustrations with you. Sometimes it's the most obscure little books that can give you so much pleasure!

"The warm tones of this Sun Porch reflect the outdoor loveliness."

"Blending of period styles makes rooms of distinctive living quality."

"Modern architecture creates new character in decoration."

"A hallway in a Colonial manner with all the quiet perfection of the period warmed and made home-like by its lovely color scheme."


  1. looks like the type of obscure book that i find at the book thing!

  2. Jennifer -- I so agree about the Colonial part :)

    Do these colors not look great? Loving the yellow and turquoise-y hues!

  3. I'm loving that yellow, black, and orange deco foyer!

  4. i have the feeling from looking at these illustrations that the world was more beautiful then?! i find #2, #3, and #5 very inspiring ... love the yellow and turquoise-y hues too : )

  5. i have the feeling from looking at these illustrations that the world was more beautiful then?! i find #2, #3, and #5 very inspiring ... love the yellow and turquoise-y hues too : )

  6. Lurelle Guild--whom I mistakenly thought was a woman until the Internet came along--also designed one of the classic icons of American industrial design for Kensington Aluminum,

    which I picked up for two dollars at my neighborhood Goodwill store back when I was in college, and whose perfect geometries (along with the streamlined sleekness of Henry Dreyfuss' aluminum-&-enamel Thermos) later served as the inspiration for my previous apartment. I don't know why Guild has never received the attention that other designers get, but he was great and this book is one of my favorites, although I gotta say your copy looks to be in a lot better condition than mine is.

  7. Magnaverde- I assumed he was a woman with that name, so thanks for the clarification! Fascinating info on Guild, and fabulous compote too.

  8. It is so enjoyable to look at these period illustrations.
    Thank you for posting them.
    It is interesting that the modern room with the built-in banquette would have looked dated a few years ago. Now with a reinterpretation of 20th century design this room looks fresh again!
    Also, there is something about the hallway which is so classic...from the hanging lantern, to the wallpaper which today has had a revival. That stand in the corner would have originally been a candlestand.Don't you just love the Hitchcock settee?

  9. Anonymous5:50 PM

    Lurelle Van Arsdale Guild was born in Syracuse, New York 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 called Lurelle Guild Associates. With an eight person staff, the company made models and worked on product development. 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. Guild died in Darien, CT in 1986.

  10. Anonymous5:51 PM

  11. I LOVE these photos! Thanks for sharing! I have a great House and Garden book from 1953. I'm going to try to post some pictures from it tomorrow.

  12. Anon- Fantastic! I can't thank you enough for this information!

  13. Great information! What wonderful illustrations. Thank you for sharing Jennifer.

  14. What a great find! Love the illustrations.