Guillerme and Chambron produced over 2,000 models for Votre Maison during the latter half of the 20th century,
and left an indelible stamp on design during the 50s, 60s and 70s
The Votre Maison company was founded in 1949 by two men, Robert Guillerme and Jacques Chambron. The pieces of furniture designed by ‘Guillerme et Chambron’ are easily recognisable thanks to their distinctive functional designs and materials used: waxed oak, either lightened or darkened to the same few tones.
The story of Votre Maison however begins in 1940 in East Prussia. United by the absurd consequences of war, two men from different worlds meet whilst imprisoned by the Germans, and bond over, among other more obvious things, their shared passion for design! Together, they fight a daily struggle to live and keep their dignity – which they believe is essential. To keep up moral, they plan future projects together until the Winter of 1944 when the war comes to an end. They return home where there are war restrictions, ration tickets and rebuilding.
They both resume their former professional activities. Robert Guillerme had studied design and architecture at the École Boule, graduating in 1934, so after the war he moved to Lille, where he decorated homes and designed furniture for the well regarded Rogier workshops. Then in 1948 Jacques Chambron left his work as a painter and decorator on the Rue Nollet in Paris, and relocated his family to join Guillerme in Lille.
In 1948 the pair discovered Émile Dariosecq, a master cabinetmaker who had a shop in the city and was willing to produce their designs. One year later, Votre Maison was born! The association was destined to be as influential as it was prolific. Not only did Votre Maison produce over 2,000 models during the latter half of the 20th century, but it also left an indelible stamp on design during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The company’s output served as a model for a vast field of liveable contemporaneous design.
The soul of Guillerme et Chambron’s work was in the company’s name ‘Your House’. Their focus was as keenly attuned to functionality – furniture’s use in daily life – as to the creation of innovative design. For the two designers a home was envisioned as a place where a family could live both comfortably and in aesthetic harmony.
Robert Guillerme, who designed most of the work, possessed a limitless creative ambition, producing designs for everything from grand dressers and sideboards to the smallest elements of a space, such as pedestals, shelving, benches, and lighting. This steady output of beautiful furniture bucked convention, not merely in the equal emphasis Guillerme placed on function and aesthetics, but in the almost paradoxical creation of a consistent style that was as staid as it was arresting. While his work was in many ways distinctively conservative and recognisable from project to pro- ject, both in form as well as in medium – his wood of choice being waxed oak – Guillerme’s pieces also possessed an unusual flare. He incorporated elaborately detailed tiles and unusually bright fabrics, both of which could be used interchangeably in a variety of pieces.
While Robert Guillerme designed most of the pieces, Jacques Chambron focused on décor and client relationships. Working with stores and individuals alike, the decorator filled homes throughout Europe with small and intimate lines of furniture created to address each room’s particular and varied needs. He had attended the School of Applied Arts in Reims, but he was a remarkably charismatic man, unusually befitted to the work, and amply capable of evangelising Votre Maison’s unique and groundbreaking conception of décor.
Votre Maison continued to produce furniture right into the 20th century, with Jacques’ son Hervé Chambron – a designer and graduate of the Ecole Boulle – having taken the reins in 1983.
With thanks to Maison Gerard Ltd. New York (www.maisongerard.com)