Hector Guimard was born in Lyon, France. After studying for three years at the École des Arts Décoratifs and for four years at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris (without formally graduating), he established his own practice.
His early work (the Hall of Electricity at the Universal Exposition of 1889) was unexceptional, but the radical ideas expounded by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc concerning the expressive and natural use of materials like iron and an 1895 visit to Victor Horta's Hotel Tassel (Tassel House) in Brussels, with its flexed masonry and sinuous lines, spurred him to reassess his own designs.
Aside from his very public designs for the Metro, Guimard's practice was largely limited to private houses and apartment buildings for the haute bourgeoisie.
He remained faithful to Art Nouveau even after it passed from fashion, ca 1910.
In the shadow of the coming war, Guimard emigrated to New York City and died there in 1942.