PaperCity Magazine


Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 36 of 75

I n 1931, young Swiss designer Willy Guhl sent out postcards written in German with an image of sleek white porcelain tableware, saying, "Please come to my Christmas exhibition at the Kunstgewerbemuseum [Museum of Decorative Arts in Zurich]. You will find the perfect gift among my ceramics for even the most spoiled of tastes." He was 16 years old. Arguably Guhl's most famous design is the Loop, an iconic chair from a century crowded with them. (The Museum of Modern Art has one in its design collection.) A nonchalant model of minimal, low- slung chic, the Loop is considered a milestone in design history for its innovative production technique. Originally manufactured by materials company Eternit, the Loop chair was made from a single continuous ribbon of cement reinforced with asbestos. The material was formed into a loop around a wooden mold before hardening, resulting in a chair whose production had zero waste. In the late 1990s, the chair was reissued as the Guhl Stuhl, using asbestos-free fiber cement. They are still available today from Eternit ($960 retail). Guhl's interest in the strong and durable material of the Loop chair led him to develop a wide range of outdoor products, including planters, seating, and even doghouses. One of his most beloved planters was the Diablo hourglass design — two organic cones joined by an implausibly slender center section. At one point, these elegant planters were found in many public spaces in Switzerland and Italy, but fell from favor in the 1980s. Now, however, Guhl is experiencing a renaissance, and weathered Diablo planters, along with his blocky Cube planters and harder-to-find Handkerchief planter, are highly collectible in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, and have been popping up in the fields at the Round Top Antiques Show. Guhl went on to become a p i o n e e r o f industrial design in Switzerland, c o m b i n i n g i n n o v a t i v e p r o d u c t i o n m e t h o d s w i t h a passion for e r g o n o m i c design. In the 1940s, he and his brother Emil b e g a n t a k i n g plaster casts of the backsides of seated people, trying to find the ideal anatomical shape for a chair. Guhl used these casts in the design of his groundbreaking Scobalit chair, the first plastic shell chair in Europe. Scobalit chairs are nearly impossible to find on the market, as they were originally produced in a limited quantity due to production constraints in Europe in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Willy Guhl Biomorphic planter $2,400, Diablo Hourglass planter $1,200, and Tilted planter $1,500, all Swiss 1950s, from Susan Horne Antiques at Market Hill, Round Top. Hornet's nest $95, from Cottonseed Trading Company, Round Top. Willy Guhl Low planter, Swiss 1930s, pair $9,500, at M. Naeve Willy Guhl Handkerchief planter $2,400, Swiss 1930s, at M. Naeve 35

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of PaperCity Magazine - Round_Top_January_2021