Who: Martin Grubman
What: P.E. Guerin - Custom Decorative Hardware
When: Since 1857
Where: Founded + Based in New York City
And Today Has Foundries + Showrooms Internationally
It's been said before that 'knowledge is power and convenience is costly.' A wise statement that holds true in everything from the food we eat to the car we buy; and where could this be more true than in the homes we live in? It's one thing to purchase the cheap products, materials or furniture we need to get us through the moment, but it's another to just get sucked into the cycle of purchasing more and more new throw-away's rather than saving, researching and educating ourselves on the best way to invest in the space we want to be in, that will last for the long run. Sure, change is inevitable, but truly thoughtful investments in the home are sure to not only enhance the personal experience of the space, but also it's monetary value.
|A P.E. Guerin Louis XIV hardware compilation.|
Spanning 150+ years of existence and four generations, P.E. Guerin maintains every component of the traditional process of artisanal metalwork in decorative hardware, whose precedent example was set by its namesake and renowned talent, French immigrant Pierre Emmanuel Guerin, a pioneer in his craft. Many of Pierre Emmanuel's original work can still be found throughout New York City, and still in all it's luster and quality. So, despite the trends and culture of immediate gratification and now that rules so much of the consumer mindset today, this company has managed to stick to its guns in believing, to its core, that the production of something special that will last you for generations to come, should still be well thought out, intricately detailed and finished with expert precision.
|A stellar example of Guerin's abilities, as seen in many top shelter publications today.|
Martin Grubman, who has been with P.E. Guerin for over 25 years now, has become a true advocate for the process and the product.
Martin even noted that in common manufacturing of, say, bathroom hardware or faucetry today, there's been a mass decision somewhere along the line to attempt to alleviate skews and alter knob and lever creation (and their valves) so that each one goes a different direction. This is actually commonly practiced so as to have one less thing to do in production, saving manufacturers costs, but not necessarily creating a product that will last a lifetime.
"We recently had a homeowner call us, who'd taken over an old family property in Pennsylvania, a house built in 1926, that had Guerin hardware in it," Martin notes, "They sent it to us to have us refinish the items and add a few new valves, then we sent it back to have it re-installed- it looked as incredible as ever. Actually, same thing also happened with an old hotel in San Francisco a few months back. It's all still immaculate."It's impressive to say the least, and certainly no surprise Martin appreciated this moment in his work with Guerin. Having originally worked in the high-end building industry, Martin had seen a thing or two in the design + build process of high quality homes, and intimately understood the process when he met Andrew Ward, the fourth generation CEO and President of P.E. Guerin.
|A Louis XV Decorative Paumelle, gold-plated hinge|
|Incredible detail on this tiny Lilypad + Dragonfly|
"We'll take on someone new from time to time, and if they show aptitude in a certain part of the process, have them apprentice with one of our older artisans who's been with us a long time." Says Martin of the team. "But most of us have been here for decades."And P.E. Guerin, like many of the artisans we've spoken with, bring the process of design development and active collaboration to the table as they engage their designers, architects and homeowners in creating the perfect hardware for each and every project. But beyond being simply beautiful, nice 'things' used to decorate a space, they are both high-quality, functional assets, as much as they are a joy to look at, with products ranging from bathroom fittings and fixtures, to custom furniture and furniture hardware. And it's no wonder all of the products that come out of Guerin are meticulous and perfected, they are handled with care by highly trained, master craftspeople who are in fluid communication with one another (and have been for some time).
|A photo of the original P.E. Guerin team in front of their [still current] home in|
New York City's West Village. A copy of which still as it hangs in their office.
|This custom Hippo faucetry goes from modeled mock up to priceless perfection.|
|A Guerin Artisan Chases a custom doorknob in their New York Studio.|
|Jacqueline, one of Guerin's long time Master Artisans hammers away at a clients custom monogram detailed doorknobs.|
|Some of Guerin's incredible history is sure to be tucked away in their archive.|
Each product may be of a different material, but can also be finished in a myriad of materials and styles. From buffing, polishing or brushing anything from bronze, nickel or pewter, P.E. Guerin informs on the best products for specific use as well as recommended maintenance and care (which is often quite simple). Each of these distinct differences and are part of a selection process that will still ensure a long lasting product, it's more about an educational component to the program, rather than a blind selection and purchase. And in line with the educational moment in P.E. Guerin's tour, Martin also always likes to laugh and quiz any visitors he may have, asking:
"Do you know what the main difference between brass and bronze is?" Sometimes there are good guesses, but few know the answer: "Brass has more than 12% Zinc, Bronze has less than 12%..." Martin smiles.
|A Louis XIV Doorknob with incredible detail.|
Having gotten to know so much more about the process of creating something magnificent that lasts, and also how open so many of these artisans and custom ornamental professionals are to informing their customers, it is a breath of fresh air to know we can get on board and learn as much or little as we like at any time. After all, investments take research, interest and a desire to learn (or even simply, to know what it is we're paying for, and why it may be a good or bad idea). And again, if we're seriously thinking about investing in our homes, what better place to start than with some of the details that top off and complete each space and will make them our own.
But beyond all the wonderful new insights we've learned and the incredible work we've viewed by Guerin's artisans, if there's one thing Martin Grubman would like to leave us with it is also the reminder:
"We do everything- Modern, Transitional, every period imaginable, Deco, Nouveau, (after all we did live through that period)... We don't soley specialize in 18th Century ornamentation." Martin speaks of the process, the stock and the custom abilities, "Some people don't realize how tactile it all is, what a treat it is to look at everyday when it's all said and done."We can't argue with that. When we purchase our first property, we know exactly who to call for the hardware. We think it's well worth saving for.
|A whimsical bathroom will get this Swan Basin set in Pewter and Gold.|
|A fantastic marine and nature inspired basin set from Guerin's recent "Whimsy" collection.|
|A fantastic stepped set of Art Deco inspired hardware.|