Collection inventory

Special Collections home page

Lurelle Guild Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: DW
Date: Jan 1980

Biographical History

Lurelle Van Arsdale Guild, born in Syracuse, New York, was an American architect and prolific industrial designer. Shortly after graduating from Syracuse University in 1920, he and his wife relocated to New York City and Guild started his own business, Lurelle Guild Associates, to design and market home furnishings and decorative arts. The company, which became hugely successful, produced designs, drawings, models, prototypes, and worked with manufacturers on product development and marketing. Guild's usual method was to invent or develop the new product, patent it, and then assign the patent to the manufacturer, charging a fee and royalties. Guild also played an active role in product development and marketing: placing samples of his products in retail shops, surveying potential customers, even trucking refrigerators into a local neighborhood in order to poll the residents.

Aluminum and glass Kensington Ware bowl, ca. 1934[Photo at right: Aluminum and glass Kensington Ware bowl, ca. 1934]

Guild is particularly known for his long relationship with Alcoa. In the early 1930s Alcoa, actively searching for new market opportunities beyond utilitarian cookware, hired Guild to design a giftware line for them. "Kensington Ware," as it was known, debuted in 1934 and featured Art Deco items in five categories: table and service, decorative pieces, drinking glasses and accessories/barware, smoker's articles, and desk accessories. In the fall of 1935, Alcoa began advertising Kensington Ware in various popular and women's magazines, including Vogue, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, House and Garden, Country Life, and Time. Kensington Ware sold very well and is still collected today. Guild continued to design new products for the Kensington giftware line until it was discontinued soon after World War II.

Lurelle Guild was also a capable interior designer. He designed the Kensington showroom in Rockefeller Center in New York City and the permanent "museum" at Alcoa's New York offices, which displayed individual products as works of art on modern display tables of extruded aluminum, skillfully lit.

In 1947, Alcoa again looked to Guild, this time to design hardware/aluminum furniture. Guild modern designs included chairs, tables, consoles, vanity desks, bed headboards, night stands, chests and a glazed cabinet. Alcoa sold over 400,000 Kensington and Wear-Ever chairs before discontinuing the line in 1952.

In addition to Alcoa, Guild's client list grew to encompass many of the major manufacturers of the day: Aluminum Cooking Utensil Company, Allied Chemical, American Airlines, American Locomotive, Burgess Battery Company, Philip Carey Manufacturing, Chase Brass and Copper, Colgate Palmolive, Congoleum, Corning Glass Works, E.I. DuPont, General Foods, Gulf Oil, IBM, International Silver, Kensington, Miller Metal, Monsanto, Pitney - Bowes, Pullman Cars, Remington, Revlon, Schick, Servel (Electrolux), Sylvania, Union Carbide, and Westinghouse. He designed a vast range of products, including clocks, dishes, railroad cars, vacuum cleaners, typewriters, and gas stoves. Guild became so well-known that his name and photograph were even used as marketing material.

Guild died in 1985.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The papers of Lurelle Guild consist of eight series. General files contains correspondence with clients regarding product design, development, marketing, advertising, etc. Financial records includes bank statements and both paid and unpaid bills that span the years 1932-1965. Shop drawings comprises technical drawings for most of the clients mentioned in General Files. Within Design work there is an alphabetical list of the drawings, finished designs and assorted swatches Mr. Guild or his associates used in their work. Photographs contains photographs of many designs of Lurelle Guild's as well as those of other designers. Printed material includes books, magazines, pamphlets, etc. Memorabilia comprises notes, scrapbooks, photographs, books owned by Guild and various other personal items. Models includes serving dishes (of silver, various alloys, and glass), food molds, chairs, coffee pots, and a railroad car.

Material within each series is arranged alphabetically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Guild, Lurelle.


Industrial design -- United States.
Industrial designers -- United States.
Painters -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Appointment books.
Bank statements.
Blueprints (reprographic copies)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Drawings (visual works)


Industrial designers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Lurelle Guild Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents

General files

Financial records

Shop drawings

Design work


Printed material