In Adolf Loos’s 1908 essay “Ornament and Crime,” he wrote that “the evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from objects of daily use.” We’ve borrowed Loos’s pungent title even though culture has evolved—to twist and circle, like the guilloche—in ways Loos never imagined. Ornament occupies a secure, if minor, place in contemporary frame design. For us, it’s most interesting when the ornamental element is the focus of the frame, not just an embellishment. We have used both egg and dart and guilloche borders in this way.
The guilloche is an ancient ornamental border that was often used in Greek and Roman architecture; it has shown up again and again ever since. It’s the only one of the most common border ornaments—such as egg and dart, bead and reel, ribbon and stave—for which we have no name in English. It can be described as a series of two ribbons or bands winding around a series of central points, which are often left blank.