Karl & Franz Gude
“Create from out of the nature of the task with the means of our time. This is our work”
Mies van der Rohe
Gude production shop 1930
As a master grinder his skills were devoted to the finishing of the raw forged knives made by various guild member houses. Attention to detail was central to his craft’s skill for handle construction, blade finishing and sharpening.
During the closing decades of the 19th century several German houses had been producing a variation of the French Sabatier to counter the growing popularity of the French knife. These German copies were a marketing response to essentially counter French blades with a standard German culinary knife handle. Especially in England. As a guild master it is likely that the Gude workshop had finished versions of these kinds of knives for their customers.
The link with France was also the result of several of the larger German houses who had subcontracted their overflow production of German knife production to the knife makers of France. This had been going on since 1880’s. This business was substantial because the records of the French guild indicate that German production during the last decades of the 19th century helped slightly to stabilize French production capacity.
In light of the 1095 collection it is clear that Karl Gude understood the design aspects of the French culinary knife. His response was to incorporate features of the French knife into the typical German style Chef’s knife. Creating the first hybrid of the two traditions ever made, quite possibly the only hybrid of these two traditions, given that no one produces the Gude style while the French blade German handle is still produced today.
Yet the Gude family’s approach to innovation did not stop with the concept of fusion, it continued and resulted in what we now refer to as the Bread Knife created by Franz Gude Karl’s son. Franz’s innovation was the result of creating a unique grinding stone that ground the scalloped edge of what we know of today as the bread knife.
The Gude Family, while not well known, has left a legacy of innovation which is still valued after 100 years of use throughout the culinary world at home or in the professional kitchen or baker. 100 years of use not driven by marketing but by design value.