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Willy Guhl

Swiss, 1915-2004

Decades prior to the mass popularity of neo-industrial cement floors and furniture taking shape, there was Willy Guhl. The Swiss creative is considered one of the first “industrial” designers in his home country. He pioneered a rugged, organic style of modern furniture and decor — stylish planters, shapely seating and lots more — that remains widely coveted by many today.

Guhl was born in 1915 in Stein am Rhein and worked as a carpenter before beginning studies at the Zurich School of Applied Arts (known today as the Zurich University of the Arts), where he would go on to teach for nearly 40 years.

While Guhl is well-known for his range of provocative garden elements as well as his patio and outdoor furniture, today’s legion of mid-century modern enthusiasts are likely familiar with the designer’s iconic Loop chair (introduced in 1954). For this sculptural seat and other furnishings, Guhl tended toward industrial materials, which he bent and shaped into organic forms for a striking juxtaposition. Much of his work is crafted from either concrete or Eternit, a mixture of cement and asbestos developed by the Belgian company Etex, which, in the 1950s, commissioned Guhl and his students at the School of Applied Arts to conceive planters in the material. The resulting vessels — some hourglass-shaped, some in the form of handkerchiefs, all suitable for indoors or exteriors — remain some of Guhl’s most collectible pieces.

Guhl’s affiliation with the Swiss “neo-functional” movement centered on the idea of simplifying design without sacrificing form. According to Guhl, his mission was “achieving the most with the minimum of effort.”

In addition to his work as a designer, Guhl left his mark on subsequent creatives through his 39-year tenure at his alma mater, where he was instructor to the likes of Robert Haussmann, Kurt Thut and Bruno Rey. Modern-day shoppers at IKEA owe Guhl a debt of gratitude too. He was an early advocate of flat-pack furniture, championing its ability to make good design more widely accessible.

At its core, though, Guhl’s work was inherently human-centric: “At the center of my efforts, I put people and their living requirements,” he once said. “My products must be useful to people.” Guhl died in 2004 at the age of 89.

Find a range of vintage Willy Guhl furniture and decorative objects on 1stDibs.

Average Sold Price
$2,712
Styles
Materials
Iconic Designs from Willy Guhl
Explore timeless pieces that have earned their place in history.
Spindel Planter
Spindel Planter
Loop Chair
Loop Chair
Marmite Cauldron-Form Planters Designed by Willy Guhl
By Willy Guhl
Located in Woodbury, CT
We are huge fans of Willy Guhl garden pieces and have three “Marmite” planters with two different patinas available. Two have a lightly patinated natural surface (#2 and #4 from left...
Category

20th Century Swiss Mid-Century Modern Willy Guhl

Materials

Other

Triangular Footed Planters by Willy Guhl, 1960s
By Willy Guhl
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Sculptural triangular concrete planters by Swiss Architect Willy Guhl. Each planter has a concrete leg at each corner of the planter which allows the planter to float a couple of inc...
Category

1960s Swiss Modern Vintage Willy Guhl

Materials

Concrete

Willy Guhl Pair of Diablo Planters
By Willy Guhl
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Willy Guhl pair of Diablo planters for Eternit Hourglass sculptural garden vessel Clean lines, modern design, timeless Classic Lovely patina with rich texture Some surface wear a...
Category

Mid-20th Century Swiss Mid-Century Modern Willy Guhl

Materials

Concrete

Small Willy Guhl Ribbed Planter
By Eternit, Willy Guhl
Located in Woodbury, CT
Designed by the iconic Willy Guhl in the 1960s and made of strong and lightweight fiber cement by Eternit, SA of Switzerland, this square planter has a natural unpainted patina and i...
Category

Mid-20th Century Swiss Mid-Century Modern Willy Guhl

Materials

Other

  • Small Willy Guhl Ribbed Planter
  • Small Willy Guhl Ribbed Planter
  • Small Willy Guhl Ribbed Planter
  • Small Willy Guhl Ribbed Planter
H 10.50 in. W 12.25 in. D 12.25 in.
Willy Guhl Loop Chair and Side Table
By Willy Guhl
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Willy Guhl loop chair and side table, Switzerland 1950s. Original vintage with stamp and serial number on the chair. The chair can be purchased individually for $7000. The side table...
Category

Mid-20th Century Swiss Mid-Century Modern Willy Guhl

Materials

Cement

  • Willy Guhl Loop Chair and Side Table
  • Willy Guhl Loop Chair and Side Table
  • Willy Guhl Loop Chair and Side Table
  • Willy Guhl Loop Chair and Side Table
H 21 in. W 36 in. D 21.5 in.
Willy Guhl for Eternit Tall Handkerchief Planter
By Willy Guhl
Located in Wichita, KS
Wonderful Willy Guhl for Eternit vertical handkerchief planter with great condition. Great scale for indoor or outdoor. Great vintage condition. Only one available.
Category

Mid-20th Century Swiss Mid-Century Modern Willy Guhl

Materials

Concrete

Willy Guhl Handkerchief Planter, Cast Stone Modern Sculptural Jardinière, France
By Willy Guhl
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Willy Guhl handkerchief planter, cast stone modern sculptural jardinière, France. Monumental sculptural assymmetrical sculptural form with extremely rare original painted finish in R...
Category

Mid-20th Century Swiss Mid-Century Modern Willy Guhl

Materials

Cast Stone

Willy Guhl for Eternit Large Rectangle Concrete Outdoor Handle Planter
By Willy Guhl, Eternit
Located in Los Angeles, CA
This designer on-trend architectural 27.5" long rectangular concrete planter is by Swiss architect Willy Guhl for Eternit, crafted circa 1968, Switzerland. This special low-profile a...
Category

1960s Swiss Mid-Century Modern Vintage Willy Guhl

Materials

Concrete

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Willy Guhl Sellers

Orange Furniture
5.0
The Elemental Garden, LLC
4.9
Doctor Decorum
4.9
Open Air Modern
4.6
Puritan Values
5.0
Elephante
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Willy Guhl furniture for sale on 1stDibs

Willy Guhl furniture is available for sale on 1stDibs. These unique pieces are often made of stone, and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options in our Willy Guhl collection of furniture, although gray editions of this piece are particularly popular.. We stock 288 vintage versions of these items, while there are 3 modern editions to choose from as well. Many original furniture by Willy Guhl were created in Europe during the 20th century in the Mid-Century Modern style. If you are looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Ludwig Walser and Eternit. Willy Guhl furniture prices can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. The price for these items starts at $395 and tops out at $38,500, while pieces like these can sell for $2,400 on average.

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